God doesn't give children with special needs to strong people; He gives children with special needs to ordinary, weak people and then gives them strength. Raising a child with special needs doesn't take a special family, it makes a special family.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Well I survived....with only a few (okay about 5 or 6) meltdowns. Yesterday was Brenden's eligibility/IEP meeting with his soon-to-be preschool. I should mention that Brenden only qualified by 1% point! For special needs kids to start pre-k at 3 and receive therapy, there has to be 25% delay in two different areas. We knew he would qualify for gross motor since he's not walking, running, etc like a typical 3 year old, but we weren't quite sure about the other areas. There was no delay in social/emotional (surprise, surprise!), 9% cognitive delay, 21% adaptive skills delay, and 26% speech delay (since he has some articulation issues). Had he not qualified I'm not sure what we would have done, as we can't afford all the therapy he needs.
Our Birth to Three team was there (minus one!) to support me and make sure we were able to get all the services Brenden will need in school. I am so thankful they were there because I really wouldn't have made it through without them! Last month we met with Brenden's teacher for his testing, and I was less than impressed with her. I didn't get good vibes and for the last month, I have had so much anxiety over this. This teacher was out yesterday, so another teacher filled in for the IEP. She was actually the teacher I requested initially, but her class is full in the morning. But seeing such a huge difference in her and the other teacher we had met, really made me realize how uncomfortable I was for Brenden to be in his assigned classroom.
The meeting went well, we were very pleased with the frequency of therapy and pretty much everything else. After all paperwork was complete, the school therapists, teacher, and coordinator left and I had some time to talk with our Birth to Three team about my dilemma with this teacher. Long story short, the transition coordinator came in and listened to my concerns with the teacher. She reassured me that things would be ok, but that if after Brenden's first few weeks I was still not happy, we could try for another classroom. We also discussed another option....there is a head start collaborative class, which has 10 'typically developed' kids, 8 special needs kids, 2 teachers, 2 aides. Since Brenden really doesn't have much delay in other areas, this would be a great option for him as it would be more academically challenging and he would be around more kids. Only problem, this class was full, but would be an option for next year. So we left, I agreed to give things a chance.
Well of course God is on our side.....as I was standing in the parking lot talking to everyone, the coordinator ran out yelling for us to wait! She just found out there WAS an opening in the head start collaborative class...in the morning (Brenden still naps so afternoon pre-k was not an option!). So back in we went, sat down with the new teacher who I LOVED, and decided this would be a great fit for Brenden. She took me in her classroom, I met the aides, and for the first time, I felt such peace with Brenden starting school. Now don't get me wrong, I am still having anxiety over him going....I mean he is only 3 and he has NEVER been left in a strange place with people he didn't know. But feeling comfortable with the teacher is such a weight off my chest. Since it's part head start, I will be allowed to come in the classroom whenever I want, I can volunteer, etc. Wonder if that means I can just go to class with him everyday....:)
The big day is March 8th since he has a few appointments at UVA right after his birthday. Luckily, Jonathan is off that day so I won't have to do the drop-off alone...because I promise, I will be a wreck. I haven't slept much for the past few weeks because I lay awake at night worrying about him starting school. I can't get it off my mind and my brain races with 'what if's.' I know I'm not the first mom to take my kid to preschool, but this is a really big deal for me. I'm terrified quite honestly (and not just about all the germs he's going to bring home). For 3 years he's been in a sheltered environment and I was always here for him.
I know....you are all sick of my posts talking about how much I am worried about him starting preschool, but 'til March 8th, that's all that I'm thinking about. But in other news, Brenden continues to amaze me!! He has pretty much become a pro at pushing his walker himself, he has learned how to turn it, how to back up with it, and is now apparently a pro at climbing/crawling up the stairs. We have no steps, but yesterday after the IEP meeting I went to get the kids, who were at my parents. I was sitting in the living room talking to my dad when we heard Brenden yelling "I made it, Mommy!" My dad and I went to see what he was doing, and sure enough, he had made it up the first set of steps and was getting ready to go to the next level. While walking out of Target yesterday he also discovered the automatic door and what makes it open......
God gets all the glory for Brenden's progress lately. I am so in awe at the amazing work He is doing in Brenden's life and just wish that I knew 3 years ago what I know now. When I think back to this time last year and setting Brenden's therapy goals, I don't think I really believed they were reachable. I'm disappointed in myself for doubting, but they seemed so big. I've learned my lesson, though. I try to instill a 'can do' attitude in both Brenden and Madelynn, and I need to carry that attitude myself. Brenden is a constant reminder that all things are possible. So we keep on fightin', kickin' SB and the devil with every step he takes!!


Cassie said...

Girl, it is okay to be scared! This IS a big deal! I wanted to throw up when Caleb started school at 3. I held it together when we dropped him off but bawled like a baby as soon as I was in the car! I think I've told you before that those 2 years of school before he started Kindergarten were essential, it would have been a huge disservice to Caleb not to have had those 2 years under his belt. But truthfully, I don't think it gets easier. I was sick over Caleb starting Kindergarten this past fall. And I still struggle with anxiety over it and over school in general. Worry Worry Worry! I'm the Queen of Worry!

Gina said...

You vent all you need to...we are here for you!!! I had tears in my eyes as I read this, 1) because I am right behind you thinking about Avery starting school and 2) God is SO amazing!!!!! Love you guys and I will be praying for you!!!!

Aunt Barb/Uncle Larry said...

Please never feel you are talking too much about your children. This blog keeps us connected. We want to know. We pray you find complete peace in this new avenue of your journey, and sleep like a baby. It is always good to hear you say God is in control. He is in control and always near. This new phase of Brenden going to school sounds exciting, It's all going to be ok.