Well, we heard back from the Principal and the decision was granted---MJ was to be allowed to skip the 5th grade all together and enter 6th grade this coming fall.
Although it made sense academically to skip MJ, it was a bit of a social no-no. Really it isn't that great to skip regular kids into a higher grade at times, let alone skip a child with Asperger's Syndrome, someone who was already a social misfit?! How could we?
It took a long time for us to come up with this possibility. MJ was very very smart. The schools and doctors had tested him and shown us even more than we thought at how smart he was. Yet, here was this kid with poor social and processing skills, and who was awkward, clumsy, had poor handwriting, and slow speech, and he didn't always show his smartness right off. It really wasn't fair to the poor kid that he had all this intelligence inside him but could never get it all out in time to prove it.
Over the years as we figured out his Aspergers, we found ways to work with the school to accommodate him so that he was able to show his talents. With his 504 Plan, teachers gave him less written assignments, more oral, allowed him extra time to write, gave him social cues, and little things here and there to help him adjust. It was working quite well mostly, but he was still way above the other kids academically.
We had hoped he would figure things out socially, yet he was not. And with Aspergers, would he ever really fit in the social circle? We hated to see him so miserable and bored both socially and academically. So, we had to choose at least one to be happy in. With Aspergers, who knows if we can help with the friendships and social acceptance, but at least we could help him enjoy school more and feel challenged. They had tried in 4th grade to allow him to go back and forth between grades, but it had been a big mess. Schedules never quite worked out and MJ was always left an emotional mess. We knew he needed to be challenged, but he also needed stability in a set schedule and one main teacher. We agreed to the skip.
But now the worry.....how really would this work? The workload was surely to be more advanced, and would a new 6th grade teacher be willing to accommodate a child that not only had skipped a grade, but had the issues of Asperger's on top of it? And plus there was to be a new principal this year. What if she didn't agree with all these accommodations for MJ?
All summer we worried and waited until it was close enough to school starting that we could set up a meeting with MJ's 6th grade teacher.