What we did and when we did it. Sometimes.

What we did and when we did it. Sometimes. People, places and events to remember.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Let's Talk Preschool (1)

Oh, the drama!  Before having Ben, I was completely unaware of the process that children with disabilities go through before starting school.  Now I know (and we are only at the very beginning).  

To put it simply ... it's complicated.
The federal government provides Early Intervention (EI) services until a child turns 3.  If a child has a demonstrated need (or diagnosis), the school district becomes responsible for providing therapies and services for the child on his/her third birthday.  In order to determine what services the child should receive, the school district evaluates the child.  For Ben, this involved three separate sessions (one with a speech therapist, one with an occupational therapist and one with a physical therapist).  I also had an interview with a diagnostician, and then filled out a separate evaluation form.  Ben's current EI therapists (OT and PT) and his case manager submitted evaluations as well.

After the evaluations, it is time to determine what services the child will receive.  I do NOT understand all the complexities of IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), but basically, it provides for each child to have an IEP (Individualized Education Program).  

This is a formal document that directs educational services including 
  • therapy (what kind, how often, etc) 
  • supports (a one on one aide, modifications to curriculum, etc). 
  • location (in the resource room, in a typical classroom in the special education classroom)
It is intense!

Since Ben turned three in July, we've been trying to figure out what his school year might look like.  Here were some of our driving thoughts/concerns:

(1) Evan and Corrie both went to a small Christian preschool 3 mornings/week when they were three and four years old.  I stay home, and that was just the right amount of time for them to be in the classroom, have fun time with other kids, and still get lots of time with me.  And it's a wonderful school!

(2) The school district provides a 5 day/week special education preschool with a great teacher/student ratio.  Right now, there is one teacher, two aides, and less than five kids.

(3) Ben is predominantly nonverbal.  He has one definite word: UP!  He also knows 200+ signs and is a pretty effective communicator, even without words.  

(4) Ben scored near average on the assessments.  There were some distinct areas of delay (notably, speech) but other areas where he is close to his age in cognition. 

(5) We haven't really started potty training yet.

(6) Research shows that inclusive classrooms (with typical kids and kids with special needs) produce better results for ALL the kids.

(7) Ben, Corrie and Evan would get a kick out of going to school together.

In anticipation of Ben's third birthday, those thoughts have been rocketing around my brain for the past year.  We want to get Ben off to a good start.  What does that look like?
To be continued ...

 Dropping the big kids off on their first day ...

 Putting shoes on with Corrie before she leaves for school.


  1. He is simply adorable! Praying the Lord gives you His wisdom!!!

  2. This all makes my stomach hurt...just thinking back to when we walked in your shoes. You are doing all the right things. Ben is so blessed to have a Mom who is diligently and tirelessly working on his behalf. :) Things will likely change for Ben, over the years, according to his needs and what you see is working at the time...so be flexible. It may take some time to figure it all out. I will be praying for you guys, especially on Wednesday. He is just precious!

  3. Gosh...he's getting so big! School?! I can't imagine that right now. It gives me anxiety when I think about what we are going to do. It sounds like Ben is doing awesome and I can't wait to hear how school is going!