Dar’s summer has officially begun. What’s it mean?

We had his IEP during the last week of the school year. You know, where they talk about his progress on goals, and then we make new goals. My goal is to present both sides of that – uh, in the next few weeks. Thanks for checking, loyal readers!

His annual IEP used to be scheduled around his birthday in October. Regular readers know that it was usually a disaster. They would say that he had achieved maybe 2 out of 14 of his goals. They often used the summer as an excuse, saying that he forgot everything they had taught him. Last October, we had an idea: what if we held the IEP in June? Wouldn’t that best reflect the school’s work?

It’s possible we’re making it too easy on them. But we don’t want them to have any excuses. It’s the same reason that we finally enrolled him in the district’s summer school, a.k.a. Extended School Year (ESY). In the past, we said no to summer school because we figured it was better for Dar to have 1-on-1 coverage at home. After all, we qualify for 25 hours a week and we don’t use them, except over the summer. After signing him up, I learned…that ESY is only four hours a day (8:30-12:30). So we couldhave combined 4-hour school days and five-hour therapy days during previous summers.

Oops.

Anyway, we’re doing it now. Anything to get the school to be able to say “we did everything we could.” And in fact they seemed to be in quite the agreeable mood. I added a bunch of stuff to Dar’s IEP at the last minute, and they took that entirely in stride. Next time I ask for a new car.

What about the rest of Dar’s summer?

Some kids go to camps. For example, this will be Dar’s brother’s first summer in a day camp. We still can’t quite imagine Dar at summer camp. Basically we can’t imagine him without an adult nearby whose full-time role is to watch him. I hope that changes. Right now, no.

Dar has already hit the Six Flags two-fecta. We went to Hurricane Harbor (formerly Waterworld) in Concord, where Dar very happily splashed around for a day. We also went to Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I had never been to the latter. I thought it was all roller coasters. Which is the reason I should have gone. I thought it was all roller coasters and surly teenagers. Which is a reason I shouldn’t admit. Well, it’s neither. And there’s a whole lot of family stuff.

It’s a good thing Discovery Kingdom has several of those water areas, you know where the little geysers spurt out from under manicured concrete? Dar can pretty much do those all day. Dar wants to GET WET all day. The hard part is getting Dar to do anything else. Another hard part is standing in line. Dar hates it. I know what you’re saying, humble reader: I do too!Right, but you don’t shriek like a banshee after thirty seconds in a queue. (But I want to!) So, basically, we can only take Dar on rides where we can rush him on at the last minute. The last minute is not when you want to learn those height and chaperone requirements. Oh, also, Dar doesn’t like every ride.

But he does like many. I have a video of him smiling and thrilled on “Nairobi’s Look Out Balloons,” a ride that hoists your car up maybe 30 feet high and spins you around in two overlapping circles. I would show you this video, but wordpress hates me. Suffice it to say the video is a great comfort. Sometimes you hang on to very little. Like a fake African hot-air balloon. Or a video of one.

I have been thinking of Discovery Kingdom, and a recent trip to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, as “rehearsals” for our So-Cal trip in July, when Dar will be going to Disneyland and California Adventure and Universal Studios Hollywood. He’s going on 9 and this is his first time at any of them, so this ain’t exactly early. I wonder what he’ll think of California’s premier amusement parks? We’ll probably never know. But we have to do this. We have to have pictures of Dar as a kid at Disney, before he grew up. (And let me tell you, he’s growing like a weed lately!) One reason to have those pictures is one of the reasons to have that Nairobi balloon video: we have to remind ourselves that we tried. We tried to give him a childhood.

How about the rest of Dar’s summer? Well, let’s just say our mailbox hasn’t exactly been jam-packed with birthday party invitations. And I don’t blame the parents or his fellow 8-year-olds. It’s not like Dar can or will play with his peers.

At least we’re now in the season where Dar’s preference to be naked actually makes sense some of the time. So that’s something.

For the next two weeks, I won’t be linking to the IEP on Facebook, it’s just for you loyalists who come here whether I post the Facebook link or not. You know who you are. I love you. Really. Happy Solstice, and have a great summer. GET WET!

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