Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Happy Birthday. Now, Get out.

Today, after school, as I was unloading the boys and the stuff from the trip home, Christian came over to my side of the car, holding a dandelion wish. He had no idea what it was, so I told him, "All you have to do, is close your eyes, make a wish and blow! Your wishes float up to God and they may come true." I demonstrated, by closing my eyes and wishing, Please, God, let Elijah end up in the preschool program that is right for him... and then I blew the "wishes" into the air. Christian got very excited and ran to grab another dandelion wish. He closed his eyes, paused and then blew the wishes into the air.  I couldn't resist. "So, what did you wish for?"
He said, "A race car bed and to go to Magic School."
Those are awesome wishes. But, my wishes these days are usually not for me.  I have dreams and I have silly wishes too, but I tend to spend my wishes on my kids these days. At least when it's when wishing on a dandelion weed.

Yesterday, I toured possible preschool programs for Elijah. Frankly, it's depressing. Elijah has been in an AMAZING center-based therapy program since September this year. He has blossomed. He has been interacting and socializing with other kids. There is a 1:1 ratio, a Physical therapy gym, an Occupational therapy gym and 10+ therapists who care deeply about the success of the children who attend this program. It's a dream come true. ....And then there is the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). As soon as Elijah turns 3...and I mean, literally ON HIS BIRTHDAY, he must leave his current program and be transitioned into LAUSD, where he'll receive (hopefully) the services he still needs support from.

Happy Birthday. Now, get out.

I spent the morning crying over the options we'll have. I couldn't quite put my finger on the reason for the tears at first. It's certainly partly that Elijah is growing up quickly and already about to begin preschool (I also cried when Christian began preschool. Then cried when he started his second (and last) year of preschool. Cried when he graduated. Then cried when he began Kindergarten. I'm seeing a trend here...) So, there's that. But, it's also because the options for Elijah are greatly reduced. On the tour yesterday, I looked at a class at a nearby neighborhood school, and frankly, there is no way that Elijah is ready for that. Those kids were fully self sufficient, and there weren't any obvious diagnoses. I'm thinking mild speech delays might have been the extent of it. Elijah WILL get there, eventually. He's just not there right now.

We went to one school who had been on my "Avoid-this-school-radar", and I had very low expectations. The class we looked at is called a Preschool Intense Class...which sounded kinda scary and limiting, but when we walked in, I saw a very upbeat, positive and loving teacher who was engaged and engaging with her students. My first thought was, Elijah would LOVE her!!! Unfortunately, I also saw the same kind of class with a teacher who seemed cynical, down beat and slightly negative. Her tasks were ridiculously ill-suited to her students, and as a result, the kids' diagnoses seemed more severe. They weren't engaged. In fact, quite a few of them seemed a little "checked out." And, frankly, I didn't blame them.

Over the next few weeks, we have scheduled assessments which all lead up to a final IEP (Individualized Education Plan). As of  April 20th- Elijah's 3rd Birthday- he will be booted from the current placement he is in, and begin a school placement that is purely about "Accessing the Curriculum" and not necessarily what is best for Elijah. Like I said,

Happy Birthday. Now, get out.

So, I'm using all of my Dandelion wishes on my kids right now, and because he needs it, especially on Elijah. My own wishes for "me" will be saved for after that 3rd Birthday. Although I did get a little "me" wish come true this week- no dandelion weed necessary. A client sent a little Thank You gift for a job well done.  Just a little Michael Kors handbag to say, We appreciate you. It left me thinking,

"Get out??!!! Happy... Birthday!!"


P said...

Love your gifted style. Bolstered nicely by Michael kors apparently!!

But uhm doesn't Christians inclusion school have a preschool?!!! It SHOuLD try try try to get one with those options. I feel your pain daily and am 5 months away from switching to some scary or GREAT choices for Kinder.

I have older sibs & know the local school. It's just getting him to the right spot and knowing (I do, odds of success--and without strife / damaged bridges & high risk? Uhm zero or DIVINE INTERVENTION -- Cue Mathew Sweet!).

But I have a few walking & living & loving life miracles at my side to prove my point.

Faith love peace hope. You probably COULD get the good teacher but what about the next two or so years? Why isn't the school addressing her weaknesses???!!!

It will work out. Don't settle but widen the search if you can at all--don't fear lack of readiness, challenges are okay with the right appropriate accomodations to fit the school to HIM (quoting club 21 Tools for the Journey 2013 here). The too much class sounds more like inclusion -- PERFECT if the speech models are decent. It is the tail end of the year, I'd bet those same kids were NOT talking much in Sept. I've seen it twice and the non-talkers 18 months ago are proactive chatty sweeties.

And it might be a child with DS--one DEFINITELY was says his mom (he's a year older so I saw the change but only at occsssional overlapping plsydates the 3-4 year.

As that child fought leukemia & has weekly audiologist appointments to check hearing. He's a huge clear enough understood first grader who chats away proactively or responsively.

A case that isn't the average DS but I think it's a larger percentage than we may assume.

I'd get back & scrutinize SPEECH therapists. Might be tough to get scheduled but a teacher with good control in a decently engaged class but a school that AcTIVELY earnestly & with a passionate speech therapist ON BOARD to using all options PROMPT (videos on YouTube) and PECS and iPads (prologue...?) or will consider them all.

Dreaming here LAUSD but enough of those (highest prompt training of a speech therapist that fits with YOU best ranked first)

You can do it. With tears and angst & GNO/book club cocktail or 12 or 23 hour getaways

Please share so we can use your tips and move to your area if you find a gem or polish up or inspire a diamond in the rough.

P said...

Ask at the center which option is the best fit. Always return to this magical place to help fundraise periodically but also to get advice. You have 10+ advisors, ask them all! But the teacher/director/or admin maybe therapists will know the reputation of schools.

Verify this rep with TODAYs intelligence via connections & networking. Check with parents at the local parks or spec needs anything (and they pop up at the parks about every time/every other visit that you start a chat

When that is all obviously impossible just remember you can switch; go into debt going private a year or two; or skip class. But communication is key in good or tough spots, persistent questions & adjustments and new IEPs mid year or speech only mini IEP with therapist ' teacher.

Debt to pay extra speech. Toooo $$$$$ but an option but not really.

Only a miracle can save us now! History of the World. Mel brooks

P said...

I adore these plants too, what a life cycle! & demand my wishes be true (happy healthy family!!) ASAP especially for serious business like those seeds. And the patiently dried for ages chicken breast wishbones or unicorns & rainbows