Joseph will turn six in March. He watched the six year-old kids leave his preschool at the beginning of this school year in order to go to kindergarten. Now he has decided that this is what he will do, as well.

But not next fall, when school starts. Now.

He gets that it means leaving his beloved preschool. We sat in on a kindergarten classroom at the local public school, and he understands that he would go there. And he still wants to go. Now.

Our OT has pronounced him kindergarten-ready. Our RDI consultant said he could manage it. The school is being really open, kind and welcoming.

The classroom he’ll probably end up in is the one that has a very high-functioning ASD girl already in it — and an aid. This aid could help Joseph as well, and all I hear are raves about her and the teacher.

Maybe Joseph is kindergarten ready, but I’m not. What keeps running in my mind is:

He can’t go to kindergarten — he still has autism! When we started RDI they told us that they aim to have the kid indistinguishable from typical kids by kindergarten time. He’s not indistinguishable! So he can’t go!

Sigh. As if the autism isn’t bad enough, now he is going to go to a school where he’s the new kid, where everyone else has the routine down pat, where he’ll be the object of attention — or, if you believe my mind, the laughing stock.

These kids are already writing words. Joseph can’t write words yet; he is still learning to write letters.  I asked our OT, “But what will Joseph do when the other kids are practicing their words?”

You’ve gotta love this reply. She said, “He’ll practice his letters.”

So very practical. So very devoid of fear. This is the difference between an Occupational Therapist and a mother.

Joseph is full of surprises, as usual. This boy keeps me on my toes.

He’s so funny right now. It’s around 40 degrees outside during the day, but whenever we go anywhere in the car, Joseph insists that we keep the back windows down. This is so that, when we pass anyone walking or riding a bike, or perchance someone else with a car window down, he can yell out, “HI!”

I love it. Sometimes it makes someone’s day to have a kid putting out so much energy to greet them — and with such enthusiasm!

The most promising thing I’m seeing developmentally is something that no one but a trained professional or a parent of an ASD kid would see.

It’s that Joseph is starting to — how do I say this — let other kids in more deeply. In little fits and starts, he is sharing snickers with other kids when something’s funny. When the little girl next to him in the pool started blowing bubbles, he looked at her and blew them too, sharing the fun. He’s saying “Hi!” to kids as well as adults. Or even, “Hi, Sarah” — using the kid’s name.

It’s such a small step for mankind, but such a huge leap for Joseph.

And all of a sudden he started side-skipping. Over the years I’ve learned how we look for physical changes like this as a sign of development. This is a really good one.

I thought that he could make all of these developmental leaps while keeping things nice and calm at his familiar preschool. What is it with this kid? Haven’t I taught him that, once you’ve got it good, you should just sit there where you’re nice and safe? 😉

But no —  he’s going to shake up his life incredibly by going to kindergarten.

And I’m going to let him.

In terms of what it is — starting late in the year — it’s the best possible set-up. I’ve visited nearly every private and charter school in our area, and all doors seem to be closed except for this school. And the principal of this school — who happens to also be the special needs coordinator for the region —  has opened the door wide. God bless her.

So keep those seat belts buckled. Just when we thought that things had calmed down a bit, Joseph has decided to jump on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.

Let’s jump on with him, shall we? No doubt we’ve got some stunning twists and turns ahead of us.