Day 3 and 4 of Preschool is done. We survived...all of us.
Day 3 was a mess. A true mess. Caleigh woke up at 5:30 that morning. She stooled 3 times and puked up her morning meds. She told us that her tummy hurt, but after probing more we decided it was nerves. Even with a day off to recover, Caleigh was emotionally raw. I give her huge gold stars for even letting us walk back through the doors. The plan was for me to leave her for the first hour, but as soon as I said we were leaving she broke down in the saddest, defeated cry. The teacher asked me to stay.
From there it was one emotional break down after another. A sound she didn't like, a request she didn't like, a kid looking at her the wrong way, mentioning Daddy, the teacher talking to her. All made her break down and then some.
The planned iPad training was invaded with every therapist that you can imagine. It ended up taking place in the middle of the block center on the floor with Caleigh whining and losing it occasionally. In hindsight we should have taken the group to a conference room. Oh, well. I handed out outlines of our Proloquo2Go setup and explained positioning, testing methods and basically how everything boils down to creativity and thought.
We left class an hour early with an exhausted Caleigh in tow.
Today went better than any of the previous days. Caleigh got up at 7am which is typical for her. She woke up happy. I've been asked to stay with Caleigh full time for the next several weeks. So I stayed and acted as Caleigh's one on one aide for the full three hours. Not another person touched her the whole day. They observed, but didn't touch her. Caleigh did get a little uncomfortable when one of the little girls in kitchen center tried to get her to "eat" a pretend slice of pizza. Caleigh also told me that she needed to go potty. We went into the bathroom and she went. I'm proud of her for that.
There were areas of frustration for Caleigh that became more apparent to me today. Patience, taking turns, waiting for her turn, boredom. Bottom line - Patience. I spent the entire morning explaining to Caleigh why she needed to wait, who needed to do what before it was her turn, etc. Basically talking her off the agitated crying ledge.
Another issue is that Caleigh is more advanced than the current pre-school curriculum. I spent the other parts of waiting time pushing her further than the current question to keep her interested in the task. For instance, the children were counting yellow and red dots. The teacher was going around individually and helping the kids count the 5 dots. I asked Caleigh how many dots there where. "5." I asked her how many yellow and how many red. "3 & 2." I asked her math problems with the numbers. Finally it was her turn and she told the teacher "5." It kept her involved. Am I going to get that out of a teacher's aide? Maybe, maybe not.
I've been preaching socialization, patience and socialization since the very first phone call. That is why Caleigh is in school right now.
Because of my reasoning, creativity and preparing Caleigh for what was going to happen; she had a good day with a lot of smiles.
We are also working with the school nurse to schedule Caleigh's fluid doses during transition times instead of interrupting whatever is happening during class.
I, myself, was also more clear headed today. After brainstorming last night I felt like I was more confident to go in and basically tell everyone what we expected. The words that kept coming back to me are that they are trying to re-invent the wheel here. We know Caleigh like no one else. We know what she needs and when she needs it. We should be cutting the time and frustration and letting them know exactly what it is Caleigh needs.
After this first week and the time that I have put in, one thing is extremely clear now; Caleigh needs a one on one aide. Now most of those that are completely into inclusion would flip out at the idea of a one on one aide. Inclusion to me isn't a one size fits all mould. We will do what is best for Caleigh. She needs someone who can read her, make sure she can talk with her iPad at all times and can help her participate in all activities. It's hard work. My biceps hurt and my back is sore. Harder work than $8 an hour entails.
So I plan on meeting with the teacher early next week to go over some ideas. At that point, we will decide about calling an emergency ARD meeting or not.
This week has been nothing short of a challenge both physically and emotionally for Caleigh, Eric and I. We are hoping for a calmer more integrated school routine for the next few weeks. I hope for break throughs and ah ha moments for everyone involved.