Life with Coco and Gigi... and Jack-Jack too!

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I posted in my "looking ahead" post about the girls attending preschool and I thought I might elaborate a little bit. What happens (at least in New Jersey) is kids are eligible for services through Early Intervention through the age of 3. At 3 a child in many school districts is they then enter a special needs preschool if they still require OT, PT or ST services. Thankfully the school district we moved into is one of the best in the state (coincidence??? I don't think so :D).

What happens next is in February we submit an application for each of the girls to be assessed by the school system to see if they qualify for this program. It is funded by the state (thank goodness) if we qualify. It is a 5 to 6 month process so it should make for a fun uphill battle. There will be a series of meetings, both in our home and at the school, where the girls will be thoroughly assessed by psychologists, OT's, PT's, ST's, preschool teachers and administrators to determine their eligibility and needs. (Ok, is it just me or is this starting to sound like the most fun you've had in years???) The hope is that they will both qualify and their therapies will be continued. The therapists in the school system would have access to the EI records and would have a very good idea of what each of the kids needs.

From what we are being told Abby is a shoe in and Gracie will very likely be eligible. The whole thing frankly scares the hell out of me. It is a half day FIVE DAY A WEEK PROGRAM. That means I have to put my three year old babies on a bus at 9 in the morning and we away from them until after noon. When I say this I realize that I sound like every other Mom out there who has to send their kids off to school. Here are the differences, as I see them.

1. I have to do this when they are three.
2. My kids spend every day with me. No daycare, no babysitters (except grandparents) and rarely more than 3 or 4 hours without me.
3. It is five damn days a week.
4. I know my kids needs. I know that Abby can't step off a curb without falling. I know that Grace can't say "f" or "s" or "z" or a bunch of other sounds. When they need to go to the bathroom or they're hungry or they fall down I WON'T BE THERE. That kills me. It kills me because if they were "normal" I would not send them until they were 4 and that would be one of those two day a week for two hours preschools. Not every single day. I would have a choice.

It might not sound like much but it isn't going to be easy on any of us. You spend your life trying to protect your kids and meet their needs without smothering them and overprotecting them. I try to walk this line every day. I try to make sure that just because they have special needs they are still "normal". This just doesn't feel like normalcy to me. It feels like a sort of punishment. My kids are "special" and so they have to be away from me even more than "normal" kids. I wish their were more options but unless we win the lottery this is the best shot at getting good therapy for each of our girls.


Lindsey Fescoe 10:38 AM  

WOW that does sound like a lot of hours for a 3 year old to be in preschool! I know you'll do what's best for your girls though, you always do :)

ferfischer 11:12 AM  

Hugs! Isn't it possible for them to attend a traditional preschool with services added in? In our district, we have a special school, but that's for pretty severe kids (like Cici) and most other kids attend other preschools with those services on top. Our EI stuff ages out at 3 too, so we'll be transitioning this summer as well, and working with the school district. Even though Penny is neurotypical, she will be able to go as well with Cici, also state funded (yay! for small victories!). I'm not sure how many days they attend. Also, it should be possible for YOU to drop off the girls directly at the school and bypass the bus. I would totally do that - the bus really scares me, especially for a 3yo! As for 5 half days, if you drop them off yourself, and get over the first couple weeks of adjustment, they'll be ok. You can volunteer in the classroom, and get to know their teachers better that way. Max started full-day, 5 day a week preschool (my choice) at 3.5yo, and has done GREAT with it. Penny has always been home, so that will be a bit more difficult! But, I understand part of what you talk about because Cici's special school requires 5 day a week, full days, and I really wanted her home for some of it, but I didn't have a choice. She's also doing amazing, so maybe it was harder on me. Anyway, I do understand! Hugs!

Christina 1:33 PM  

I know you, and I know you'll get through this, just like you have gotten through so much in the past! *hugs*

Anonymous 1:06 AM  

No, that's a big deal. Worthy of worry. Proceed with stressing.

Hopeful Mother 5:24 PM  

I hear you. We are starting the thought process for what we will do for preschool with Car.sten (neuro-typical) and Al.ex (anything but typical!) when they turn 3 in October. Al.ex's evals will begin in April and I don't look forward to them.

Here in California, we are looking at two options - a standalone Special Day Class or an integrated inclusion-type class with a SDC teacher and typical Head Start preschool kids for part of the time. (The 3rd option, a private preschool, with services "on top
we don't feel is appropriate for Al.ex at this time.) These 2 programs are 3 h/day x 4 days a week, but would not include Car.sten.

And we are thinking about not sending Car.sten this first year since he is pretty advanced, and the Head Start wouldn't be an appropriate placement for him.

There may be some new inclusion options at private preschools next year, but they're not sure yet.

Our EI ages out at 3, but I suspect that Al.ex will continue to qualify for services under our Regional Center due to cognitive delays. :-( And he will hopefully continue to qualify for CCS where he is getting his PT and OT twice a week on top of everything else.

I don't think we'll use the bus either. It is not a problem for one of us to drive to the preschool, and I am not comfortable with that yet either.

I don't look forward to the evaluations either (and in your case, for two children) but I do look at it as a good thing as far as getting more therapy from more professionals, so that is a good thing. It is hard to let go!



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Over 8 years we have struggled through 3 IUI's, 6 rounds of IVF, several RE's, hundreds of appointments and the loss of three little angels. Now we find ourselves the proud parents of two perfect little girls and a wonderful little boy!!

Both of our girls struggle with some disabilities but that won't keep us down. Each day has it's own brand of insanity but we love it. Most days I am more monkey wrangler than mother but I do the best I can. Todays goal - getting to tomorrow.

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