My son is happy. I see it in his smile when he comes home from school, in his quick 'debrief' with me, his endless teasing, his spontaneous hugs. At 12, he is still happy to give his mom a bear hug.
He's in 7th grade in a large middle school. He's an aspie. By all rights, happiness is not part of that mix. But he is happy.
So what have we changed that could create such a dramatic difference from just a month ago? Have we started him on some new powerful medication? No. Has the school suddenly expelled all the bullies? No. What has changed is so small, so easy, that I hesitate to attribute anything to it.
For the past year and a half, middle school lunch has been like decending into the ninth circle of hell for my son. He's had money extorted from him, he's had his food stolen, he's been kicked out of his seat, he's had his lunch dumped to the floor, he's been told, repeatedly, that he's stupid, a jerk, not liked, not wanted.
I've been talking about lunch and PE to his school team since the start of middle school. Finally, at this years' team meeting, the team came up with an alternate lunch option that was nothing short of transformative for my son. The 7th grade social studies teacher has an open invitation for certain kids to have lunch in his room. It's not a 'SPED' thing, just a group of interested kids and a teacher they respect. It's not always the same mix of kids, though my son has lunch there every day. And it's been incredible.
He feels as if he has a place where he belongs--where the kids accept and enjoy him. A safe, predictable place.
Total cost to the school district: $0.00. Value to my son: Priceless.
As for PE--that's another fight for another day.