Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Matt starts school!
Today was Matt's first day at his playschool. He will be going twice a week for 3 and half hours in the morning. I was quite emotional about it - not because I have any concern about him going, but rather because it is a significant milestone. Matt's world is expanding beyond my care, my guidance, and my intervention. Up until now I have always been in the background as he explores new people and places. I try to let him have his freedom, but I am always watching for the moment when I need to partner him in engaging the world - whether it be to explain something new to him, or to help others understand his signs.
School is now his place...where he has to find ways to communicate, to contribute, to build friendship...all without me. And that is really good. I know he is ready. So my heart is at peace, but my heart was still sitting in my throat as I left him this morning - in recognition of the significance of it all.
When I fetched him I was told that Matt had not been upset, but rather had enjoyed exploring and watching and also choosing to engage where he felt comfortable. His teacher was positive about Matt's experience and felt that Matt was able to make himself understood.
Here is a photo we took just before we were about to leave this morning. I am not sure how much of the idea of school Matt understood at this stage, but he sensed it was a special day (and he really liked wearing his backpack).
Finding this playschool has been a real answer to many prayers. In South Africa there are no state run early intervention programmes for kids with special needs. In our city there are only one or two preschools that cater specifically for kids with special needs. I have been unsure about whether these are even the right place for Matt. I think I spent most of last year with this knot of anxiety as to what steps we would take in terms of Matt and formal education.
This year two unrelated people recommended this playschool for different reasons. I was told the classes are small, the teacher, Debbie, is a Christian, is very gentle and focusses on each child as an individual. What's more she used to teach at a school for kids with autism so she is familiar with signing and using pictures to communicate with non-verbal kiddies. When I contacted Debbie, she shared how she had recently come across our blog, and so was familiar with Matt and me. How amazing is that!?! And she would be delighted to have Matt in her playschool. Matt and I popped in for a visit and I knew immediately that it would be a good fit, especially because Matt was so comfortable in the environment. We made a video of Matt and Lloyd making Matt's signs so that she could familiarise herself before Matt started.
I am so thankful that God cares about every detail of Matt's life and that I can trust him with all the other uncetainties and unknowns that lay ahead in Matt's future. I am so proud of Matt and the person that he is. I look forward to see how he is going to grow in response to this new environment, and I look forward to see what impact he is going to have on this same environment. I have no doubt there will be mutual benefit!