A Blank Canvas – Transitioning to a New Class

Lindsey Hughey by Lindsey Hughey Additional Needs

Lindsey Hughey

Lindsey Hughey

I am a mom to a wonderful 3 year old girl with CP and Epilepsy. She is our only child right now, so she is our world.

School…. the love and hate relationship is a true struggle for all parents.

Our daughter is three years old and has cerebral palsy, epilepsy, cortical visual impairment, and eats primarily by a g-tube.

She is globally delayed, has little fine or gross motor skills, and is in a wheelchair.

She uses a speech device that is auditory because it was the only augmentative device option given her visual impairment.

I tell you all of this, so that you can get an accurate picture of how difficult it is trying to find a daycare that you can trust and that is willing to take on all of this.

It is basically impossible.

However, we are very fortunate that she was accepted into a preschool that teaches both traditional children and special needs children of all diagnoses and spectrums.

It also incorporates all types of therapies as part of their daily activities, and the therapist trains the classroom teachers on each child’s individual needs and requirements.

My husband and I both work, so school is necessary for our daughter.

And while we are so blessed to be given this opportunity, it doesn’t make the yearly mid-August transition to a new class any easier.

This year makes the third time we have transitioned to a new class since starting at this school, but experience doesn’t seem to make the change smoother.

I’m sure other parents of children with special needs can agree, that although change can be good, it is very hard on our kiddos who crave and thrive in their daily routines.

For us, it felt like we’d just gotten used to our other set of teachers, the kids in the class, the class rules and structure and our new daily family and school schedule.

Then you blink and it is all different.

I find myself struggling most with the unknown.

Since our daughter is non-verbal, I can’t fully understand how the changes affect her.

I wonder if she misses her old teachers, does she think they abandoned her?

I wonder if she is confused by who the new people in the class are and if she realizes the room has changed and she is in a different space.

As for me, it took a good two weeks to remember not to walk into her old classroom and it is a big adjustment learning the way the new class operates. I am inexplicably relieved that our daughter doesn’t meet a stranger and so she doesn’t have separation anxiety when I leave.

But I see other parents battle this daily for weeks and sometimes months until their children adjust to the new setting.

And my heart goes out to them.

I do remind myself though, that as with most things, there are both positives and negatives.

I see a lot of good and growth that comes with these changes every year.

At some point our kiddos are ready for a new challenge (even if we parents are not).

And although our daughter loves her routine, she enjoys being around people more.

Each year, her new classroom setting gives her an opportunity to meet some new kids, and she gains four new teachers to love all over her.

A new school year also tends to bring our family hope that there are new possibilities for our daughter on the horizon.

We get to set new goals and add more people to our team to help achieve them.

These new people tend to bring different perspectives to the table, and sometimes different is what our daughter needs (someone that will look at her situation from a new angle).

But more than anything, it gives us more people to share in our daughter’s successes.

As parents of special needs children, I think tend to dread the end of a school year because we know our norm, just like our child’s norm, is about to change with the transition to a new class.

But a new school year also brings a blank canvas, and sometimes our kids need that more than we realize.

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