Friday, May 4, 2012

School Time!

This week, my husband and I went on a tour of our local elementary school. As Cameron's 3rd birthday is quickly approaching, he is "aging out" of early intervention services. That means, he will lose his therapists. For a child having an Autism Spectrum Disorder, change... even the smallest change, can be overwhelming. I am terrified for him. So far, we have worked on changes...
like when his hippo therapy sessions get cancelled due to weather or whatnot. I can watch videos of him and tell you whether he had hippo therapy that particular week or not... simply in his behavior patterns.
So, even though he will lose his therapists from Early Intervention, there are other resources available. I can't speak for every child, but the next solution for us was to see if he was eligible for the special needs preschool that is state funded and mandated. It runs though his "home elementary school"... yea, the brick and mortar building that most send kids to that first day of Kindergarten... 
He has to be "tested" and "qualify" for the program, regardless of diagnosis. We will do the first part of "testing" in abut a week and a half. Although I am pretty confident we wont be turned away, it just reminds me once again the EXTRA steps that have to be taken with an Autism diagnosis. You can't see it, like you can with Downs Syndrome or more severe cases of Cerebral Palsy. The only external "proof" of his condition may possibly be how unbelievably HANDSOME he is.
 I find that kids on the spectrum are more visually appealing than the average bear, so I am just going to go with that... :)
So, the school recently got a grant to expand the preschool services and improve the PPCD program. The hallway where kindergarten, preschool, and special education services is just 8 feet shy of 2 football field lengths. In the course of 1 day, my child will go from 1 end of the hallway to the other... with speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, sensory rooms, technology rooms, reading rooms and activity centers. I walk in during the tour and spot a child playing on an iPad. They utilize those for nonverbal children... FANTASTIC!
I have been saying for quite some time that I think it would help with Cameron's verbal skills (or lack thereof). In a nut shell, I was impressed. My husband also expressed his concern with our son having a summer birthday... We had always thought, even before diagnosis, that we would actually hold him back a year before kindergarten. We were pleased to find out that they have a "transitional room" where instead of hanging out in the "threes" then getting shipped off to the "fours", he can have up to a whole year in transition... a "three-to-four" class. Our school is one of 2 schools with this possibility. EXACTLY what works for our son and our decisions. If he needs to start in the fours classroom at age 5, then it also doesn't go on the record as a "retention". How awesome is that?
So, as much anxiety I have over him going to school, at least I feel like he is in the right program. It has given me more confidence when it comes to dealing with the meltdowns and tantrums that will inevitably follow.  When that does happen, maybe I should go back and read this post.... :)