“Transition” is the word that I have often heard said as an explicative as well as through tears. It is a simple word really.
Transition: noun --the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.
However, “transitioning” is not so simple. A parent of any child worries from the minute they first hold that small miracle until, well, forever. This is true for all parents. But when they child’s still being alive is a miracle, when the worries are about tube feedings, immune deficiencies, upcoming surgeries, and seemingly insurmountable communication delays, the worries are magnified.
How can the next school or teacher possibly know everything they need to know for my child? Will they learn how to use their communication device? How to tell the difference between the in pain cry and the tired and sick cry? Will they know how important it is that they get 10 minutes of sensory input before being asked to sit? Will the teacher or school communicate with me? How will they? Will I know what my child is doing during the day? How will I know if my child is getting their needs met? Will the IEP be followed or changed?
This cycle of questioning starts at the beginning of the year of transition and continues until the next year and into the fall. The teachers such as myself ask very similar questions as we are also attached to the child we have taught, laughed with, calmed, cried with, and loved. Knowing the professionals at the next site always makes it easier as the questions are answered, and yet, for me at least, I still know that my class will change. Each child brings their own personality and those personalities combine to create that class.
As I prepare for the changes, the families, students, and next school or teacher are also preparing. I watch the families I have spent hours and many emails talking to struggle and wish that I could ease their fears. What I have learned is, the professionals receiving the child are all good and wonderful people with various levels of experience and various philosophies but they are good people. They will love the child as I have, but in their own way. The thing that the parents and I can do is make certain the current setting a welcome place for visiting and collaborating.
I recently had an Eligibility (Triennial) IEP for a student who I have been fortunate enough to work with for the past 6 and ¾ years. The special education teacher and speech pathologist for the middle school came to the meeting. Additionally the teacher and I had collaborated on ideas for the goals prior to the meeting. We were a team and so, the transition was in some ways, already completed. It was a small step but it gave everyone who has worked with this student this year the chance to ask questions, think trough possible concerns, and, most importantly, begin talking to each other.
Did this stop the parents’ questions? Of course not! Their child hasn’t stopped growing, changing, trying new things. There will always be questions, but at least now they have someone to ask for answers. It is a small thing, but something.