Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The State of the School Address

As many of you know, I've been a blogging slacker over the past several months. It's not that I'm totally lazy, though. There really hasn't been a ton going on for me to blog about. Nolan's at a cruising altitude, so to speak. No major milestones, no surgeries (thank the Lord!), no big events. He's keeping busy with preschool three mornings a week, and little adventures here and there, but nothing especially newsworthy. It's been good.

But! I do have a new development to report. After this year of preschool, Nolan will be making a transition in his education. He will have progressed out of his current school, and is ready for the next step. If he stays in the school system he's currently in, he will move to a larger, much further away special education preschool that we considered (and declined) last year. Instead, we have recently made the decision (and established plans) to send him to a private preschool less than a mile from our house. Yay!

This decision has been months in the making. I actually met with the private school last Fall to get the ball rolling. It's a Christian elementary school that offers 3-year old and 4-year old preschool classes. It is NOT a special education preschool. Because they don't have special education services in their preschool (they do starting in kindergarten), they require all preschoolers to be potty trained. There is a good possibility that despite my efforts, Nolan will not be potty trained by the Fall. (Potty training is a delayed skill, like many skills, in kids with Down syndrome.) So, this is a planning hurdle we had to overcome. Also, being the only kid in his class with special needs, there was a concern if he'd be able to keep up.

Fortunately, after a multidisciplinary meeting at the school yesterday, we learned that the school will not only be accepting Nolan, but will also be providing him with a 1-on-1 aide! Which means he will have someone assigned to just him, to change his diapers, or help him use the potty, and give him extra support in any other areas he needs. This is HUGE. In fact, in planning and dreaming of Nolan's next preschool situation, this was my ideal scenario.

"Inclusion" is a popular term in the special needs community. Inclusion means a child with special needs is in a regular classroom (not a segregated special needs class), and is given the extra supports (like a 1-on-1 aide) to function and thrive in the typical classroom. Everyone talks about inclusion. Everyone wants inclusion. There are great benefits to an inclusive environment, for the child with special needs, as well as for the other classmates. Unfortunately, it can be hard to find a school that offers a truly inclusive education. (And, side note: even though it's the special education ideal, an inclusive environment doesn't work for every kid.) So, I'm thrilled that we've found a wonderful school (so close to our house!), that is committed to giving Nolan the educational opportunity he deserves, and provides a Christ-centered education as well! This school has been a huge answer to our prayers.

This past Fall, I had a really hard time sending Nolan to preschool. It was a tough transition for me and I doubted often if we were making the right decision. I now know that we did. It's taken me (and Nolan) a while to warm up to the preschool game, but now we're big fans. There's no denying Nolan loves school. It will be hard to say goodbye to Nolan's first preschool, his teacher, and his friends, and start all over. But, I know we can do it, and it will be worth it. For the Fall, Nolan is all set to attend the 3-year old preschool class (even though he'll be 4), twice a week (I'll be glad to have him home more!), with a 1-on-1 aide. He will even still receive speech therapy and occupational therapy, provided by the state, AT his new school! It really is an ideal situation. I went home from our meeting and had to pinch myself. 

Since we're on the topic of school, and many of you (especially Nolan's grandparents) may be curious as to how he's doing, I'll let you read for yourself. We received Nolan's report card earlier this week, and here's what it said (word for word):

Social Emotional Development:
Nolan greets familiar adults and his classmates with a smile, a sign, or a "hi." With unfamiliar people he is quite shy. Nolan's interactions include looks, expressions, signs, laughter, and touches. He is a great helper and assistant during circle. He has favorite activities/songs. He can pick a song, hand out the materials, do the motions, and put the materials away. He wants to assist others too. He always picks the counting activity.

Fine Motor Skills:
Nolan really enjoys "working" at the fine motor table. He and Daniel usually work together. They help each other and encourage each other. They also take turns and trade activities. Nolan is able to work independently once he understands the "job." He has an appropriate attention span and focus. He especially likes puzzles. He will do every puzzle that is available. He is beginning to do simple interlocking puzzles.

Nolan understands what is expected within the routine. He is able to follow commands, one step and two step directions. He has also followed novel directions. He can point to multiple objects and body parts. Nolan uses multiple signs. He is beginning to use words for those signs. He uses words in imitation and spontaneously. He and Daniel have their own language interspersed with words. They carry on conversations.

Large Motor Skills:
Nolan is beginning to participate in group activities in the sensory room. He observes until he is comfortable, then joins in. He prefers the interaction to be only with a familiar adult, but will accept Daniel. Nolan likes ball play, swinging, and bouncing on the tire. Always lots of laughing. He will climb on the jungle gym and steer/drive the ship then slide, usually multiple times. With the teacher he will play the ramp mat game.

Self Help Skills:
Nolan likes a variety of foods. He can make choices by pointing at them. He may also name his choice when prompted. Nolan can use a spoon, fork, and is beginning to drink from an open cup. Nolan is able to remove his hat and also put it on. He can take off his backpack, put it in the basket, unzip and take off his coat, and hang it up by the hood! Nolan cooperates with toileting. He is sitting on the toilet for 10 count.

Nolan is very comfortable in the classroom. With something new, he is shy and needs some time to "adjust" and then participates fully. Nolan's favorite area is the housekeeping area. He gets all the dishes out onto the table, usually with Daniel's help. He pretends to cook and then eat and drink. He always cleans up, putting everything in its place. He really enjoys Pete the Cat/Buttons song.

And, in case you've forgotten what Nolan looks like, here are a few recent pictures:
Nolan and Jetta moping together because I told them to leave me alone so I could make dinner (they're both clingy when hungry). :)

Nolan assisting Jetta with a phone call on the calculator.

My butterfly boy!

Have I mentioned he likes ice cream? And that he can now open the freezer?

Charming, as always.

Hallelujah! Spring's comin!
Thanks for reading!

1 comment:

  1. You, Nolan and Adam are always in my prayers, May you always be a happy Christian family, and may Nolan bring you much joy and happiness as he grows up.