Friday, July 11, 2014

Change is in the Air

Kids grow so fast.  Josiah will be three in October.  That means he ages out of Early Intervention (EI).  His services (physical therapy) will be switched to the rehabilitation center where he received OT (occupational therapy) and Speech.  EI will also prepare Josiah for transition to the public preschool in town. 

We were determined to send Josiah to the same preschool that his brothers attended.  EI (early intervention) assumed the path of the public preschool.  After all, Josiah has Down syndrome and is granted an automatic spot in their program.  We didn't know a lot about the program but we initially railed against it.  It wasn't personal.  I guess we didn't like the idea of something being presumed for our son.  We didn't like the idea that he would be 'singled out' because he has an extra chromosome.  His big brothers didn't go there; why should he?

Acting on intelligence, and not simply emotion, C & I decided to take a tour of the public preschool classroom.  We were so glad we did that!!!  We brought an entourage with us that day.  C & I had Josiah as well as my best friend (who is a preschool teacher at another location).  The EI worker met us there, as well.  The assistant principle was taken aback by the amount of people with us.  The fact that we brought Josiah (something they encouraged me not to do) also may have thrown her.  However, if he was to attend there - we needed to see how he would react to the environment.

We were accompanied to the preschool classroom and asked to sit against the wall to 'observe.'  After about ten minutes, Josiah couldn't contain himself any longer.  He wanted down.  He wanted to play.  The lead teacher graciously allowed him to join a small group of children who were playing with blocks.  He sat in the group, like a pro.  He stacked blocks, was mindful of other children, and even used a few signs to communicate his wants and needs.  He fit in just fine.

We watched small groups of children move from 'station' to 'station,' always with a teacher.  The classroom was organized; Teachers were amazing.  We sat stunned.  Suddenly, our feelings about preschool changed.  There are only 10-12 children per classroom in this public, integrated, preschool.  We couldn't tell the 'peer children' from their counterparts.  

We walked out of the school with the realization that what we 'plan' isn't always the best plan.  This preschool program quickly proved to be the best option for Josiah.  When you are able, and willing, to be open to possibility - God shows you the best path to take.  He certainly had His hand in this one!

The teachers have since been to the house, to observe Josiah in his natural environment.  We learned that the teacher has two deaf children, of her own.  She is fluent in sign language and knew every sign Josiah used to communicate with her, even his approximations.  We were thrilled!!  Josiah took a liking to his new friends.

When the school year resumes in September, the IEP meeting will be scheduled.  Josiah will attend preschool Monday-Thursday, two-and-a-half hours per day.  A bus will pick him up at home, and return him after school.  He will receive some services at school, in addition to those he receives at rehab.  

I am nervous about sending him 'out' in the big world but have faith that he will grow and learn.  I know it will be good for him.

C & I will suddenly find ourselves with 3 hours per day where we are kid-free.  That will be a new experience for us.

In the meanwhile, we will spend our summer experiencing life with our children.  We will excitedly prepare for what's to come.  We will continue to be grateful for the many blessings in our life.

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