Made of Gray

The School Visit

Holly D Gray9 Comments
Last week Eric, Caleigh and I loaded up and headed down to what will be Caleigh's pre-school. In Texas, children with special needs transfer out of Early Intervention Services at the age of 3 and move into the school district. It's called PPCD and it is not a required move.
AprilPod
The school has only 3 & 4 year olds. One side of the school is a pre-k based on financial need. The other side has a class for special needs children that are not mobile. There is another class that is blended. Mostly children with autism, & speech delays.

Our therapists have been encouraging us to visit the school. So I made an appointment. The school isn't too far from our house. We showed up during the change of classes. There is a morning class and an afternoon class. The children had just gotten off the bus and the teacher and 2 aids were getting the kids out of their wheelchairs and changing their diapers. Wheelchairs are left out in the hall during class time.

We met the teacher, the PPCD coordinator, nurse, PT & ST and both classroom aides. They were all very excited to meet Caleigh.

There were 4 children in the class and 2 were absent. All of the children were not mobile or verbal. There was one little boy who repeatedly blew raspberries and Caleigh thought it was the most hilarious thing and laughed and giggled every time he did it. She was already chumming up with the class clown! Everyone thought Caleigh was adorable with her giggles.

If we send Caleigh to school when she turns 3 she would get PT, OT, ST and Music Therapy throughout the 5 day week. She would go for 3 hours each day. They go on field trips, play outside and have gym time daily. They also work on brushing teeth, potty training and they have every piece of equipment you could imagine. Basically pre-k stuff, colors, numbers, animals. Stuff that we are doing here at home + life skills.

Eric and I enjoyed visiting the school. It was a positive experience for us. The teacher was wonderful and we've heard great things about her from numerous sources. You can see the love for what she does and that is very special.

Now that I've said all of that, here are some cons that we have to consider.

After meeting with the school nurse, Eric and I feel like we would need to send a competent individual to school with Caleigh. We haven't found that person yet. The school nurse is just that... "a school nurse" the nurse for the whole school. She doesn't have the experience with central lines that we would feel comfortable with. She is proficient with g-buttons, but they did question the fact that Caleigh is hooked up 24 hrs a day. Most children just get bolus feeds.

Germs.

The moment we walked in the doors everyone was all over Caleigh. Touching her cheeks {yes, I know they are super squeezable}, patting her on the back, getting right up in her face to talk to her. All completely normal things, but for Caleigh it adds another level of protection that we must provide. We've spent the first 2.5 years of her life protecting Caleigh from being sick. As this past weekend has shown us, a little fever can totally ruin 5 days and send us to the ER. A stomach bug can set her back on feeds and up the amount of TPN she is on. A set back. It's just a lot to think about.

The second problem we have with the classroom setting is that none of the children are mobile or verbal. They are integrated with the rest of the school some of the time, but probably not enough for our liking. To get the socialization that everyone raves about, Caleigh would need to have peer models in her class. Ideally, at least one child that is more mobile than her and at least one child that is more verbal than her. It's just not in this classroom. At this point I feel like I can get together with a couple of my girlfriends that have kids around Caleigh's age and start a play date to get the "socialization" that is often used as a key point to sending your 3 yr old to school.

It's only 3 hours a day and both Eric and I agreed that if Caleigh didn't have the medical stuff that she does; we would be sending her to school in August. As of right now I think we will be waiting another year to take on that adventure.

Caleigh will be evaluated for the school system in June. We will continue with the process because there is another option that is very hush hush in the school district. Homebound Education. If medically necessary, per a doctor, a teacher will come to your home to teach and help with ideas. Obviously the school district doesn't want this to happen. So we will continue on through the IEPs and ARD meetings to get Caleigh the services that she needs.

As of right now that's the plan. The scary school decision has been made. The decision I have been dreading since Caleigh was 8 months old and I found out about school at the age of 3. It's really not that scary after all. It's progress. It's a new leaf.
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