Back to School High

Iz is in high school. A rather awesome public high school, if you must know. (It was chosen for its combined excellence and diversity to kick off Education Secretary Arne Duncan's upcoming Education Drives America bus tour.)

I can't believe it either. She was in preschool when I started this blog in 2003. So those of you parenting tiny people right now, hold them tight, and take lots of pictures + copious notes. Parenting mental fog plays tricks with how we track time, and if you don't pay attention, that scrumptious tiny person will disappear and be replaced with a great big person -- and if you ever want to spend time with the mini version again, you'll need your records to reproduce them.

That doesn't mean I want tiny Iz back, because -- idiopathic, random, yet stereotypical teenage bershon behavior aside -- she is still the warm-hearted, thoughtful, intense, amazing kid she always has been. But just so big! She's almost as tall as me. She has ... distinct ideas about how to dress, what to read and listen to and watch, and they don't always sync with our nerd family hive mind. Which is fair. But. But.

Leo also restarted school, this year in 6th grade. He was also tiny -- not even three years old! -- when this site started, now he's nearly as tall as me when we sit next to each other on the couch. I think Leo was pleased to have school resume after a one-month break, as much as he enjoyed our constant excursioning and hiking and visits to CalAcademy, plus a week at camp. School is consistent, school is reliable, school means constant 1:1 attention and extra-close attention to requests and needs. He was generally in a good mood this summer, but has been even more cheerful since his school van resumed picking him up every morning.

His school also remains the best possible place for Leo -- the staff so responsive and intuitive, so firmly behind our boy, in terms of believing in him and understanding what he needs to succeed and keep learning. I just wish that it didn't have  ongoing funding worries, like so many CA schools and sped programs.

I also remember when school for Leo was ... not so good. So we've been running a back-to-school series at Thinking Person's Guide to Autism, and I recommend reading the last two entries: Autism & Back to School: What Do You Wish You Knew? with advice from several TPGA contributors from parent and student perspectives, and Autistic Students Need Autistic Role Models, on how autistic self-advocate Karla Fisher helped get an autistic student out of crisis so he could succeed in school. Karla has excellent points about how just about any program for autistic students can benefit from autistic insights.

Mali was the last of our three to be summoned back to class. Third grade! She didn't even exist when this site started. But I am constantly grateful she's here, even though her on-the-fly parenting needs suck up my energy disproportionately (anyone who's hung out with her in the last few months can attest to her OMG social supernova factor).

We've decided to keep her in Spanish immersion, even though Iz's former GATE school offered her a spot. Bilingualism and biliteracy are huge gifts, plus I've observed Iz's friends who completed the program through the years -- they're certainly not at an educational disadvantage compared to Iz's GATE classmates, quite the opposite in some cases. And Mali seems to grasp not just the opportunities but the fun of being bilingual. It's a good choice, for her.

Back to school is a good choice for me, too. My brain fell out of my head the moment classes ended in June.  I've only attended to items that were on fire for the most part, in the interim. So it's good for us all to be back. And I hope those of you also in the thick of back-to-school are feeling the goodness.



Leo's dad has an iPad now, too. Which means that Leo can completely control one of his favorite scenarios, which is to have a preferred video and a preferred app going, simultaneously. Happy boy. (Talented boy.)


We've been busier than busy this summer, this year, for just about ever. Hence the lack of documentation. But the kids start rolling back into school tomorrow. Expect tears, of regret and of relief.