Friday, February 24, 2012

It's Been a Very Long Week!

This week has been a week of anguish and frustration as well as elation and celebration. In the last 7 days, we daytime urine potty trained Music Man (and if you aren't familiar with nearly every detail of that process, you obviously have NOT been reading my posts lately), took Ballerina to the developmental pediatrician for a scheduled review, received and read the updated reports about her current status and situation, and sat around listening to the results of her being observed by our cluster representative to determine kindergarten placement (already completed for Music Man). Yes, it's been a busy week.

You see, Ballerina's placement meeting is on Wednesday (February 29) and we will be making a decision at that time and we need to consider what the experts have to say as well as think about where we know her to be. We have been addressing her ADHD issues for a while now with mixed success. She has been having some difficulties in school lately as well. And the only thing I've been able to think of is, "NOT NOW!!!!" You see, my husband and I both made up our minds which program we wanted to see her attend next year, and if these behaviors continue, I can see her not receiving the recommendation which means we need to work harder in the meeting to convince the team that she belongs there. And I also received these reports that pointed out the many issues we are familiar with. Once again, I was getting the feeling that she wasn't going to receive the recommendation.

Well, today was the day. The cluster rep was coming to observe her and tell the team what she believed is the best program option for our Ballerina. Earlier this afternoon, I received a phone call from the team member from the Autism Office to share those recommendations. What she told me was that Ballerina would "likely succeed in the home school model".

First, let me just explain quickly, when they say "home school", they aren't talking about "home schooling". They are referring to the school that a child would attend under normal circumstances. Our home school happens to be down the street from our home. Big Brother walks or gets driven to school daily because we live too close for him to be bused. And, we are lucky that our home school offers a special education program called the "Early Learning Center". This is the program that Music Man has been recommended to attend next year and we were hoping for the same for Ballerina. So, this is what I assumed they were referring to.

As we were talking though, I realized something. She said "home school model". She didn't say "early learning center at her home school". HUH?!?! So I asked the obvious....."Are you saying that she is recommending Ballerina attend a typical kindergarten classroom?????" Her answer...."YES"!!!!!!

I'm in shock. When we first learned Ballerina and Music Man were on the spectrum, we decided we would do whatever was necessary because we wanted them to enter a typical kindergarten classroom when the time came. But when Big Brother was in kindergarten and I saw what these classes looked like, I modified that goal to the Learning Center, feeling that mainstream kindergarten was asking too much from them. And it looks like we have met that goal. I'm almost speechless!!!!

This weekend, Dad and I need to do some soul-searching. We need to decide what is best for her. Is she ready to handle the stress of being in a classroom (with just one teacher) with 15-18 other students? Yes, she will continue to receive speech and OT, but what is the best environment for her?

But one thing seems certain right now. Ballerina will be attending our home school for kindergarten. And so will Music Man. They will join Big Brother and all 3 kids will be in the same school. That is a huge victory all by itself!!!!!

And I plan to celebrate it. Long and hard.

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