Ben turns 3 at the end of April, so he will be transitioning from home-based early intervention to having his therapies in a preschool setting. In our county, most kids with significant developmental or behavioral disabilities go to a designated “special needs school”. I understand that a lot of parents and educators disagree with this approach, but we think it’s the right one for Ben at this time.
Earlier this month (the same week as our vehicular fiasco), he had a formal evaluation at the Center. He first had his hearing and hearing aids checked briefly by their audiologist. Ben is difficult to test using behavioral cues, so the audiologist was relieved to learn that he’ll be having a detailed ABR under general anesthesia tomorrow morning.
Then we all went to a different room, and we met all the therapists that Ben would be working with in school, as well as the school psychologist. The physical therapist went first, and she put Ben down on the mat to watch him roll, crawl, sit up and stand with support. We were pleased that we’ve already met Ben’s therapist – she filled in for our usual physical therapist a little over a year ago when she was on maternity leave. Ben did very well.
Then they sat Ben in a little chair and tested how well he was able to manipulate objects with his hands and arms. Ben sat very well and cooperated with all the tasks. The school psychologist asked whether we wanted Ben’s IQ tested. We consented, and she did her evaluation. Through the entire process everyone asked us lots of questions about Ben’s routine, his likes/dislikes, special abilities, personality, and what our goals were for him.
We generated his IEP for the year, and read over and signed it. Since the preschool operates year-round, Ben could technically start attending as soon as he turns three, but we all agreed to keep up home-based therapies a little longer; until August. We asked questions about the preschool itself. We learned that the classes are typically small (6-8 kids per teacher), kids work individually with the therapists at different times during the school day (or rather half-day), we are able to communicate back and forth with Ben’s teacher and therapists daily using a notebook, and at least once a month, his teacher will do a home visit to meet with us and discuss any concerns. Ben will be continuing PT, OT (including working on oral feeds), ST, and will periodically meet with teachers for students with visual and hearing impairments.
The prospect of sending Ben to school fills us with anxiety, but at the moment we feel a little reassured after our IEP meeting. For now it does appear that his educational needs will be met in this setting; we’ll see how things actually work in a few short months.