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Archive for April 23rd, 2010

School days, school days,
Dear old golden rule days.
‘Readin’ and ‘ritin’ and ‘rithmetic,
Taught to the tune of a hick’ry stick.

There’s much ado about school in our house these days.  Everyone wants to know where J will be going to school next year (his current school doesn’t go past Kindergarten).  Everyone wants to know if the triplets are going to school in the fall.  All these questions, not so many answers.

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J really has such complex needs, and the truth is that he will not be served well in the public school system, as appealing as the price tag (free) is.  It happens that we live in an area with some of the best public schools in the country – and with very good services for children with special needs… provided that the children fit into the profiles that they serve well.  The problem is that in order to have the county assess and commit to needs and services for him, he has to be currently enrolled in the county school system, and the odds are good that it would take about 6-12 months to get a solid plan in place – and that’s only if they determine he has the needs that we know he does.

Well, we found a really excellent school that can accommodate his needs in a very streamlined fashion.  They can provide his therapy (speech therapy and possibly OT) on campus, so that we wouldn’t have to continue juggling our evening schedule.  He also just doesn’t function as well in the evening as he does during the day – so he would likely have much more success with the therapy than he’s having now (ST has done wonders for him, but he has inconsistent success and often has to take breaks from therapy in order to be productive again).    The class sizes are small, the support staff is excellent, and while it’s a school catering to special needs, it is a very mainstream school (our original concern was that it would be too mainstream, but fortunately we don’t think that’s going to be the case).  He’ll have the “scaffolding” that he needs in the classroom, and we’ve found even just through the admission process that the school has incredibly good communication with parents, and they are very flexible.  (For example, I couldn’t go in for a parent interview due to bed rest restrictions, which was a mandated part of the admission process, but they had no issue with me having that interview over the phone -not all schools were that accommodating, even under the circumstances)

But there was a downside:  The very high level of educational excellence came with a very high price tag.    No, really, it’s exceptionally high.

But last night, we finally got word that we’d have significant assistance covering the tuition, which was the biggest relief I’ve felt in a long time.  Frankly, the only better news I could have gotten last night would have been “congratulations, you’ve delivered a healthy baby!”  But since that wasn’t in the cards, the news that we weren’t going to have to seriously compromise on J’s academic options was as good as it gets.  Bed rest, shmed rest, I wanted to jump up and down with joy.  (I didn’t.  I faithfully kept my butt in bed, but I did do a little happy dance)

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But, that’s not all the talk about school that’s going on these days.  The triplets have been getting services through our county’s early intervention services since they were six months old.  But early intervention ages out at age 3 (though there is now a program for extended services… but it requires a different level of qualification, etc.).  As such, since we’re about 6 months out from the triplets’ third birthday (OMG!  Time flies when you’re having fun… or at least when you’re sleep deprived!), we’re going through all kinds of transition assessments, transition planning meetings, testing, and discussion going on.  The girls have nearly caught up to age level – and the needs they have left are likely to resolve very soon.

Sam’s another story all together.  He has weird gaps in his cognitive skill set, he’s still very speech delayed (though he has plenty to say when he can), his motor planning skills are extremely poor, and we’re left scratching our heads a little bit.  I’m still waiting for the formal reports/test results from the assessment team, but it’s clear that he will qualify for extended services.  We’ll have our choice between sending him to “Part B Services” – which essentially means sending him to a county-run special needs preschool class four days a week for three hours per day or doing “Part C Services” which is essentially an extension of what he’s getting now – no school, but a special educator twice a month, speech therapy 4 times per month, and probably PT and OT 2-4 times per month.   I’m inclined to believe that he’ll benefit more from the daily interaction of the preschool setting (and they will pull him out for individualized therapy as needed).

I have very mixed feelings about this – On the one hand, it’s great that we can get him the services he needs.  It’s wonderful that the girls don’t have those same needs.  It’s outstanding that we have such great resources available.  Obviously, we’ll take advantage of whatever resources there are available to him.    We have to have an IEP meeting for him – which is where everything went kaplooey with J’s services three years ago – but we have more clear cut needs this time around, so I’m hoping it won’t be the disaster that J’s IEP was.

What’s so odd about Sam is that he has really odd gaps in his skill set.  His cognitive skills aren’t great, yet he can do things that J couldn’t do until he was 5 (no joke).  Sam recognizes numbers (and I think a couple letters) – and it’s not just that he recognizes them in context.  Sure, when we’re reading a counting book, he remembers what’s on what page – but he (and his sisters, for that matter) recognize numbers out of context – if he’s playing with my cell phone and types a bunch of sevens on the screen, he’ll get all excited and exclaim “Seven!  Seven!  Seven!  Seven!”    I handed him some of those wooden alphabet blocks that are sort of ubiquitous kid toys – they always have a side with numbers on them  – and he correctly identified the numbers on the blocks.  No joke – J couldn’t do that until he was five.  Of course, it’s unfair to compare – they have very different learning profiles and very different special needs.  It just came as a shock to me – we’d known J had issues with dyslexia/decoding symbols (aka letters/numbers), but I guess I’d never really absorbed *just* how atypical he was at the time.

Obviously, we’ll do whatever we need to do to set both of our sons up for success.  The last thing we want to do is sabotoge their academic (and social) success.  It’s  just a lot to absorb all at once.  And sending Sam to preschool does leave me in a bit of a conundrum regarding the girls.   I really had no intention of sending any of the triplets to preschool just yet.  They don’t turn three until mid-September, which means they’d go into a 2 year old preschool class.  While J definitely needed preschool at age 2 (and he was a true 2), the girls do not.  They’ve got plenty of socialization (not just among themselves – anyone who thinks that triplets are automatically socialized doesn’t understand the difference between sibling interaction and peer-to-peer interaction), they’ve got good skills, they’re able to function well without the additional structure of school, etc.  But I also don’t want them left with no flexibility in their schedule while they’re catering to Sam’s school schedule, etc.  I’d like them to have things to do – but I’m not inclined to send them to private preschool just to come up with things to do.  The county recreation department does have some classes we can enroll them in, and there’s library story times and such, so I think we’ll be okay, but I just want to make sure their needs aren’t ignored.  Just because their needs are less pronounced than the boys, doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to be appropriately addressed.    So we’ve got our work cut out for us.

(Yeah – anyone who thinks that bed rest means I’m just laying around doing nothing needs to spend a few hours dealing with all this stuff and see how much fun it is)

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Anyway, so there’s much ado about school in our house right now.  Hopefully it will all calm down soon.

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