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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Kindergarten for Christian!

Kindergarten is on the horizon! 

(Can you believe that? Because I can't. He's still a baby!)

We're done with IEP meetings and goals and I've toured two kindergarten classes and two schools.

I have to admit that touring the kindergarten classes was a little overwhelming. It is definitely way different than the kindergarten I attended. I went in to see kids maybe in circle time or coloring. What I actually saw were kids learning on iPADs and projects involving butterfly chrysalis (I had to google that spelling. Maybe I should go back to kindergarten.)

If I'm being honest, it's hard for me to envision Christian's place in a classroom like that. But I also remember feeling that way when I toured the preschool class and the preschool experience has been an amazing adventure for Christian. He just loves being around all the kids and they love him so much! They greet him every day, in fact, just today his little friend ran up to him and put his picture of a fireman in Christian's face to make sure he saw it. And yesterday I found a little folded up picture in his backpack. When I pulled it out, I saw this:

That's Christian's little friend. She drew him a picture of herself holding hands with him. That's his wheelchair with all four wheels. 

Be still my heart.

We'll miss preschool so much but kindergarten is ahead! And we've made the final decision about where Christian will go.

Luckily, our district has what is called a cluster program. This allows children to join in mainstream classes when they can and then break out for individual learning and therapies. This is what Christian will do. He'll probably join in for everything social like music and library and then break out for PT and OT. This is the best of both worlds. 

I briefly thought about looking into the type of program that is primarily for children with special needs, however, for as long as it's right for Christian, I'd like him to have exposure to typical children as much as he can. He thrives off of it and I think it's really good for the other kids, too. I think we'll know when and if the time is right to move him.

The school we chose is a block away. I can hear the morning announcements echoing from my bathroom window! And this school has a long history of being the first elementary school in the district to have a special needs/integrated/cluster program. They also get a brand new, handicap accessible playground for the kindergartners! We met the incoming director of the special education classroom and she is genuinely interested in really getting to know Christian. I'm so excited for him and I feel really good about this.

School has been one of the best things for Christian and his progress. He has become more tolerant of noise and action, he really enjoys being out and about now, and he has become more vocal! I think it has a lot to do with being around noisy friends at school.

And Christian? He is doing so well. It's more than I could have asked for. I just wanted him to smile and the rest would be extra. Now he's not only smiling but smiling in response to what we say or what we do. If we show him something he likes, he'll give us his half smile. If I tickle his leg or his cheek, he smiles. The other day I told him Lola brought his stuffed frog with her to pick him up, I showed it to him and he smiled. His daddy picks him up and bounces him around, spins him in his chair, and he smiles. He has even done what we think might be laughing when he gets spun!

He's also "talking" a lot! For a kid who was completely silent for months then only cried and sobbed for years, vocalization is like...well...a miracle! It is like music to my ears waking up and hearing him making sounds in his bed. Even better is when he vocalizes in response to when someone talks to him. 

Just when I think that's all he's got, he shows me more...almost four years later! He is such a lesson in hope and never giving up. Never underestimating. He is just amazing.

"Motherhood is about raising-and celebrating-the child you have, not the child you thought you would have. It's about understanding that he is exactly the person he is supposed to be. And that, if you're lucky, he just might be the teacher who turns you into the person you are supposed to be." 
~The Water Giver~

(Courtesy of my friend, Sarah's, emails. I think about this quote every time Christian teaches me something. Which is pretty much every day.)


Lauren {at} Life.Love.Lauren said...

Yay for Christian!

lucilovesraspberries said...

Ahhhhh - reading about you always makes me so happy Christian! But kindergarten?? How can you be old enough for kindergarten?! Impossible! Love, peg

Rachel said...

So interesting. In Montgomery County, Maryland, the school system considers itself the best in the nation, and it is a VERY large system. But with its largeness, you lose the individuality of programs that Christian seems to be getting. The system is always afraid to give any kid extra, lest the whole population start suing in order to get the same, expensive thing. This "world class" system has been decreasing programming options for special needs, and most classes are too large to look at inclusion or mainstreamin as an option that the classroom teacher will accept with grace. Before we moved, Colin's kindergarten class was 16 children, because the school we were in had a lot of non English speaking families. When we moved mid year, his class had 24, and his first grade was 26. With all the data collection required for general Ed, teachers don't want to have to be creative with a special needs child. It's a shame, isn't it?

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