Ethan attended orientation last week, got his schedule, books, and student ID. He said it went well and saw people he knew. I asked him if he said, 'hi' and he replied, 'I think so.' Very Ethan. He told me that he still ate lunch alone (of his own accord). I do worry about him interacting and taking social interest with other kids. We'll keep encouraging him to try and connect with a little more than the superficial. There will be kids that he knows both from elementary and middle school, and I've also talked to him about the idea of making new friends. It continues to be the biggest issue of his autism: the lack of social interest. All the other things, like 'scripting' and lack of visual referencing, odd tactile seeking behaviors, etc. are small compared to the overreaching detachment from social situations.
He had a good summer vacation and even attended a 2 week overnight camp. The other day we were out with a group of friends at an amusement park and his detachment was evident. He's part of the group, goes on the rides, eats together, takes photo ops together, but he doesn't interact or contribute to the conversation in any meaningful way. There's an esoteric difference between the way the other boys and my younger son interacted compared with Ethan. I think summer camp was much the same way. He's there, in the group, participating in games and activities, but he's not craving any kind of deeper interaction or friendship.
I'm optimistic that what we have put in place with the IEP will support him and that teachers/staff will execute it. I always worry about communication and education at the beginning of the year. Schools are so understaffed with huge class sizes and case loads that I tend to micromanage these first few weeks, communicating Ethan's core behavior, issues, tips and trick, IEP goals,etc. with teachers and staff. I work on a one-sheet that puts all the key info into one convenient place. I've encouraged his schools so much that his middle school ended up using the format for most of their special ed included students. It's truly beyond helicopter parenting. I joke I'm the black hawk of helicopter parents. I'm more stealthy. I get in, do the job, then get out.
I'm less worried about academics, but this year the level will get higher. The math, English, and Biology classes will be more challenging, but I felt that way about the transition to middle school, but he ended up doing so well and far beyond our expectations. I guess I've also set the bar a little higher now. I never used to. I think that's a good thing.