On the bright side, when he melted down at bedtime on Tuesday night, he was actually able to explain to me what was wrong. Not perfectly, granted, but well enough for me to be able to fill in the blanks by asking questions. Two years ago we would not have been able to have that conversation, since his language skills would not have been up to it. The parent of one of the kids involved with a personal space issue was incredibly kind and asked her son to explain what went wrong to me so that we could use it as a teaching moment. Very helpful since no adults were nearby at the time and we can't explain social rules if we don't know which ones were broken. Then the parent of another child in the class was good enough to ask her daughter the same sorts of questions for me, but it apparently took 45 minutes to get straight answers since this child is so fond of Thing Two that she refused to tell her mother anything that might potentially get him in trouble until her mother explicitly explained that we only needed the information so that we could help him.
The best part was the reaction of the school social worker, his case manager, when I called her Thursday with my concerns. She has been supervising my son's IEP team since he was three, and it was a while before I felt that I had her measure as a person at the beginning since she is very quiet and not in the least warm or fuzzy. With eight years of working together under our belts now, however, I can confidently say that she is one of the best things that has ever happened to my son and that I am beyond blessed to have to the working relationship with her that we have built over the years. By the time we got off the phone ten minutes later, she had plans to talk to his teacher and observe him in his classroom and was already considering potential modifications to the program for next year. She also made some very interesting suggestions for things we can do both now and at the beginning of 6th grade to smooth his transition to middle school, particularly in the Language Arts class that is going to be his bete noire simply by virtue of the way his brain works.
So in a nutshell, I guess the best way to put it is that it may be a bumpy road off and on, but there are a lot of things I can be grateful for at this point. He is undoubtedly making a lot of progress, and there are good people around us to help us along our road. I'll take it.