Wednesday, May 7, 2014

School: decision time -Part Two

Another Option

About three months ago, I wrote Part One of this little adventure we're still on. At that time, Adam and I had decided that sending Nolan to special education preschool in the Fall was not the best decision for him, and we would keep him home another year. We have recently been presented with a similar but slightly different option. We are now considering this new option versus doing home preschool (without any state-provided services).

For some unknown reason, no one really considered this new option for Nolan before. The new option is to send him to special education preschool, but at a different school than the one I had previously toured. It's actually the school where he attends his playgroup now as part of his home community program. It's a smaller, more relaxed school environment. One of the reasons we ruled out the larger school was because of the large class size of 24 children. This smaller school has a class size of 6-8 kids. Another reason we didn't like the larger school was because of the location: about a 25 minute drive. The school we drive to for playgroup is about 12 minutes away. A third reason we were against preschool at the larger school was the lack of a part-time option. As I said, the smaller school is more relaxed and flexible, and it sounds like they will likely allow Nolan to attend part-time (less than 5-days a week).

Since some of our major deal-breakers are non-existent with this smaller school, we are forced to reconsider the pros and cons of special education preschool for Nolan. Even with some of the deal-breakers out of the picture, we still have some major reservations. So, we're back to having a big decision to make, after I was so content with our previous decision... But, I guess it's good to explore all of the options!

The three aspects of special education preschool to consider for Nolan are 1) education, 2) speech/language, 3) socialization. I feel confident, and have been reassured by professionals, that I can successfully meet Nolan's educational and speech/language needs for the next year, if we keep him home. I can teach him shapes and colors, and work on signs and speech at home and through outpatient speech therapies. The area that I can't adequately work on at home is socialization. And, socializing is a struggle for Nolan. For this reason, we are strongly considering the potential socialization benefits of sending him to preschool.

Even though we'd like to see his socialization skills improve, I question whether it's something we really need to be pushing right now. Yes, Nolan is very shy and struggles to interact with other kids. He gets very skittish around them -kids are unpredictable, I get it. But, I expect he will out grow some of that. And, some of it may just be his personality. Maybe he's an introvert like his mama. :)

We toured the classrooms at the smaller school before Nolan's playgroup last week. Nolan sat in on three different circle times with the different classrooms. He was entirely overwhelmed and after the first one, just completely shut down. I could tell he was scared and overstimulated. I've seen him get that way before. He just stared blankly and didn't respond. Despite our attempts to get him excited about the songs, or sign along, he just sat there in a trance. This reaction makes me sad. I'd like him to feel more comfortable around other kids, but maybe he's just not capable of much more right now. I understand he's very sensitive -I don't think a lot of people get that about him. He's very intuitive and observant. He is deeply affected by what's happening around him, which contributes to him becoming overwhelmed easily. I'm not sure if the answer is to attempt to socialize him more, or allow him some room to feel safe and secure. Right now, I'm leaning toward the latter...

Our biggest reservation about sending him to school in the fall is still just the idea that he's not ready. He's only going to be three in August, and in many ways he's developmentally younger than his three years. His poor communication skills is another major concern. He signs, but really only with me and Adam, and it's hard to understand his signs at times. So, we have a lot of factors to weigh before we make our decision.

Our IEP (Individualized Education Program) meeting is in 5 days. Instead of feeling pressured to make a decision by then, I'm trying to view the meeting as more of a jumping off point -a chance to dialogue with the professionals who know and care about Nolan so we can explore our options and talk about what's best for Nolan.

To be continued...

Oh, and here's what Nolan's been up to lately:
Important phone calls on lighter-phones.

Lots of walks with over-sized walking sticks.

Mowing down lilac bushes.

Making speech therapy faces.

And swinging at the playground.
Thanks for reading!

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