Last Thursday we had Joshua's transition meeting. We brought him with us since his EI (early interventionist) had said that he would be in one room getting an evaluation while we were in another. Well it turned out they didn't evaluate him, she said later that now they are only doing that for children on the cusp, who may or may not qualify for services. So we were in this tiny little room with only a round table and chairs around it and Joshua hated it, I'm not sure how much I heard, I mostly had to deal with him and eventually went out into the waiting area to get him a toy which calmed him down.
Basically the meeting was about us signing papers and for us to ask any questions we had. They provided very little information when we did ask questions. The woman who ran the meeting is the psychologist who it looks like is in charge of special education for all of our school district. I went to a mom's night out on Saturday and met with some other moms who had children in special education in our school district and they too deal with this woman, most did not have good things to say about her it seems she is rather inflexible with her rules. I am not looking forward to having to deal with her and frankly why would I want to start now if I don't have to? She has a big fake plastic smile and was very fake with us, smiling her fake smile the whole time she talked to us. Saying things like well he would go to school 5 days a week (he goes 2 days a week now to the program he attends). Yeah, we know that already.
So we go to leave and have to make an appt. for a hearing & vision screening, supposed to be later on this week. We make the appt. and leave. Talking on the way home and thinking about it more, why do we have to do this when we're not sure we are even putting him in the program at 3 or later on in the school year and I find out from the EI if he doesn't go now or sometime during the year we will have to repeat the hearing & vision screening as it is only good for a year. So why am I doing it now when we haven't decided if he's going?
Why am I hesitating? Joshua goes to a wonderful preschool program right now that he can continue to go to until he turns 5 if we want. It is the only one in our area and through word of mouth has become full this year. I learned about it through our local organization for families with children with special needs (who sets up our mom's night out and other events) Family Connection. I was assigned a parent through their support group and she told me about it, turns out she lives just blocks away from the preschool. It is for children with and without special needs, so he goes to school with typical developing children as well as children with a range of disabilities. There is no formal IEP (Individualized Education Plan) which he would get before he got into the school district's program. Yet we do have an individualized plan with goals and it is much easier to change and it is followed. There is one head teacher and 2 other teachers plus an aide and at most there are 9 kids in the class. The teachers love their jobs and care about the children, you can tell, it is a wonderful loving environment. Joshua is happy there! Sure it took some time to get him adjusted but he loves going to school and being there! What more could I want?
The school district's program is strictly for children with special needs/disabilities. There are no peer role models (typically developing children) such as he has now at his school. He would have to have an IEP right away. There is only 1 teacher and 1 aide for each class, the class size is the same (although at his school there are rarely 9 kids in the class and he does get individual time). He would most likely get group therapy, not individual therapy like he gets at home and in clinics he goes to. He could still get outside therapy though but he would be going to preschool 5 half days a week (we would want mornings, he goes in the morning now and he naps in the afternoon). I take him an hour + each way to OT/cranial sacral therapy now on Monday mornings, not sure I could take him out of preschool to do that if I did he would only go 4 days a week. I have no idea what we would do with him in the summer. At his current school they are only out 2 weeks at a time, in the summer it is for only the last 2 weeks in July.
So I told the EI that before we set up any more evaluations (they want to do hearing & vision right away and a psych evaluation) I'd like to see a classroom. The psychologist said she couldn't just show us a classroom, she would need to see where he would fit and then she would show us that classroom but in order to do that she needs to know where he would fit so we have to do the hearing & vision eval and a psych eval. But if he doesn't end up going we have to do those evals all over again and possibly others (they want current OT, PT & speech evals from the past year) before he attends. We have the OT & speech, have to get the PT but we would have to get them all over again next year if he doesn't go this year and if we didn't have them they would do their own.
I want to see the environment because frankly they have a lot to live up to to be anywhere close to where he goes now. I can tell they are not going to make it easy for us to do this. The psychologist told the EI that we should call her ourselves, I do not think she will be any more flexible with us. You may think just do what they ask but you don't know Joshua very well. He will fight the hearing & vision screenings, we've done it before but not in the past year (it was early last summer). It will not be a pleasant experience for any of us and why do I want to put him through that when we may not even need to? I knew and I told my husband when we left the meeting that they would not make this easy for us. That we have to do things their way, just the way they said. We have to do all the evaluations and then we could see the classroom. If I didn't have a choice then I would probably do it all but I do have a choice so why do I need to change that right now?