Big Changes Lie Ahead for Our Angel, but We’re Prepared

Sabrina Johnson avatar

by Sabrina Johnson |

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preparing Angelman child for school | Angelman Syndrome News | Juliana smiles as she receives an embrace from her teacher

Sabrina L. Johnson

Juliana receives a warm hug from her teacher. Ms. McDonald will be Juliana's last elementary teacher before she begins middle school next year.

“Do you know what middle school Juliana is going to next year?”

“Nope,” I answer, shaking my head with a smile. Juliana, my 11-year-old Angel, will be going to middle school next year. I’ve spent some time catching up with friends recently, and I’ve been getting this question a lot.

Moving to the middle

We will learn about Juliana’s school placement as we get further into the year. I know things will be different and we will have another learning curve, but her coming transition to middle school isn’t causing me to panic.

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For one reason, we are not new to this now. We have been through this process before. Juliana may scream her head off the first day of middle school, but I know she’ll adjust soon enough.

That’s what happened the day we dropped her off at her prekindergarten class. When she realized we would be leaving her, getting her calm seemed impossible, and her screams filled the air. I vividly remember the anxiety I felt then.

It’s bad enough when you feel anxious in the face of a big change, but it takes a true effort to quiet that fear when you’re raising a child with Angelman syndrome. I’m thankful the teaching assistant stepped in and told us that we could leave and that Juliana would be OK. And you know what? She eventually quieted down and had a great first day.

Leaving our comfort zone, setting goals

Of course, I have some concerns about Juliana going to middle school. It will take her and us some time to adjust. She has been in the same school for the past seven years, and this will be a complete change.

But I know that everything will fall into place. It always has. I can rely on past experiences to help me prepare for our next big thing, and I know we will always do what we must to make sure that Juliana has a good school experience.

It also helps to define my goals for Juliana’s middle school transition. Doing this helps me to be mindful of what we are striving for. I want her to feel safe and comfortable in her environment. Good communication with her teacher will be a must. Finally, I don’t want to lose momentum with her current Individualized Education Plan goals. It’s a simple list that is quite doable.

preparing Angelman child for school | Angelman Syndrome News | Seated in a walker, Juliana embraces the face of the school mascot

Juliana cuddles with her school’s mascot after attending an event with her classmates in pre-K. (Photo by Sabrina L. Johnson)

It seems that time moves quickly when you’re raising your kids and everything is always changing.

Change is something we all face, and it can overwhelm you if you resist it. Sometimes, you are faced with outcomes you couldn’t have predicted, but when I know I have done everything in my ability to bring about the best outcome, it feels like I can navigate the transitions I’m facing more easily. I’ll do the same for this next big milestone in our life.

It’s time for our next chapter, and we must do our best to prepare for it.

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Note: Angelman Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Angelman Syndrome News, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Angelman syndrome.

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