I am suffering from a little information overload right now. It plays over and over in my head so much so that I feel like I've told everyone about the recent goings on until someone asks, "So how did that appointment go?" And then I think - I have to talk about it again? I feel like I've been talking about it all day! When the reality is that it's just on repeat mode over and over in my brain.
So I'm going to talk about it again. (kind of).
We went preschool shopping again yesterday. This was the second of two special needs classrooms we were to tour.
Preschool Option 1:
We walked to school. It's a block away. It's also the school Gabe went to. It was cool that morning and Christian was coming off of a rough night. So Christian definitely wasn't in the mood for preschool shopping.
We were guided into what was the definition of a preschool classroom. It was bright and noisy, there were small tables which held centers of arts and crafts, finger painting, preschool activities. And there were a lot of kids running around, being noisy preschoolers. The classroom is integrated with normal children and special needs children, however, I didn't see many kids with special needs. And if they were there, they were underlying because, with the exception of one child, all of the kids were ambulatory.
I met some of the teachers and helpers and saw some of the activities they were doing. I met the physical therapist and asked questions, but I left feeling like it might not be right for Christian right now. I get the whole argument that integrating the kids allows for more influence on each other and the benefits that come from that but I just don't think that's where Christian at this stage. I mean to benefit from social interaction with a bunch of other kids his age. Honestly, I don't think he cares much for noisy children right now. Maybe someday, but not today. Besides, he has one and her name is Lola and that's about all he can handle.
That being said, I was trying to keep an open mind. I really didn't have anything to compare it to anyway. I mean except for my fantasy special needs school, which is basically a cross between the NAPA center and a preschool, which may be why, I thought, I might have some unreasonable expectations.
Preschool Option 2:
This school is a little further away and the classroom I observed isn't actually a preschool classroom. It's really a classroom for special needs children of all ages who have severe impairments.
All of the kids are different ages and none of them are young like Christian. When I observed the classroom they were all outside. There were children with helmets on (usually for either cranial abnormalities or for kids who have drop seizures), there were kids with various disabilities, and I have to admit...I was scared. I'm not even going to apologize for being scared. The realization that this is where your kid belongs is scary.
The classroom wasn't loud, it was quiet. The main teacher came right over and engaged us immediately. She ran back and forth around the room trying to find a toy Christian might like. I was a little quick to judge her at first with her nose ring and heavy east coast accent. And nothing against either, it's just not what you typically see when you think of a teacher in southern Arizona. I soon learned she was the director of The Blake Foundation in Rhode Island for three years and worked for the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind for years.
She explained that sometimes some of the students have a hard time sleeping (um, Christian!) and so they have areas where the kids can sleep if they need to. There were therapy balls and standers and wheelchairs all parked nice and neat like a little wheelchair parking lot. She told me about touch screen computers they use with the kids to get them engaged and learning. There were light boxes and beads (um, Christian again!) and a special needs adapted tricycle like the one we used at Euro-Peds.
We still haven't made the final decision but I'm pretty sure Preschool Option #2 has what Christian needs at this moment. And if we feel like he's ready for the other integrated preschool class next year, we can move to that one. But I'm not going to force the situation just to make myself feel good. It's about where Christian belongs and what is going to be the very best for him and where he is right now.
Finding out where we belong - where Christian belongs - is a lot like this whole journey. Where did he belong? I know I didn't feel like he belonged in the first classroom. And when I got to the second classroom I was scared that he did belong there. But, as I said, there was a realization that he did, in deed, belong there. You learn, you accept, and then the choice is pretty clear.
The second classroom is Christian's world. And it's our not-so-new world. It's where he belongs. And I'm not scared anymore.
There was another important appointment regarding the VNS implant and I'll share about that next time.
But I ain't skeerd of that either.
March for Science
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