|The little blonde girl with the little green walker...|
Did the new teacher read her IEP yet?
Not exactly. Her new general teacher is overwhelmed right now - it's her first year with an inclusion class and she seems...a bit freaked out. This teacher also has 25 kids in one class - in this inclusion class! - and I think she's a bit understaffed (a temporary situation that I was told about) and she's managing all the things that go with a new year. I walked into the open house last week and immediately launched into questions. Mistake. Open house, I learned quickly, is not the time for in-depth discussions nor for freaking out a teacher. Oops. She said she'd looked at the IEP briefly and basically told me to talk to the special education teachers. Which I did - and they did read it and were pretty knowledgeable of my kid. It will be OK.
Did the staff set up a meeting with the rep from the talker company yet?
One of the special education teachers did! She said she was the only one who could make it but it's so much more than I'd hoped for.
Is there a new physical therapist all set and ready to go?
Yup. And apparently she was VERY impressed with all that my kid can do, including not only going on a swing but pumping appropriately! So now we can set a baseline and just move forward. Exciting.
Who will carry her talker?
Everyone seems to take turns. It's fine. We switched out the initial backpack I sent for the thrifted laptop bag we'd been using at home. There is some trickiness that I may get into in a future post, but the logistics seem to be OK.
Who will make sure she gets her special (IEP-mandated) mid-morning snack?
They're on it. Last year we did drinkable yogurt, but it seems this year that refrigerated snacks are more difficult (and I am not a fan of the sugar in drinkable yogurt anyway) so we are going to be sending other things instead. I hope to eventually wean her off this need, but for now it really does make a difference in her behavior for the rest of the morning.
How exactly will she get to that tricky inaccessible-until-you're-on-it playground?
Well apparently I underestimated my girl. On the first day, they did have a wagon ready for her, so they could bring her quickly to the playground (which she can then navigate). However, teachers and the principal told us that she's actually going up and down the stairs very well and nobody thinks the wagon will be necessary after a while. Awesome!
Will they understand just how smart she is and let her express that while also managing her outbursts?
One of the aides told me on the second day that if she could just work with my kid for the rest of her life, she'd be happy. My heart sang. Everyone seems to get what's going on, at least so far... On the other hand, on day three she reverted to one of her basic attention-seeking behaviors - tipping her milk over, followed by tipping her salad dressing over - giant mess. It's a very deliberate choice that she makes to do this (I've watched her look right at me, pick up her cup, and dump it onto the floor with a laugh), and I found out it happened - as always - because she had decided she was done with her lunch and nobody was noticing this. It's a behavior we struggle with at home, and I let her aide know that - and that we all need to work together to stop it - she needs to learn to wait. I'm hopeful that it's just her usual testing phase and that once she learns she's not getting away with it, she'll quit it. I hope. It's frustrating for us all - including her!
Plus, after seeing drop-off on the third day of school, I was reminded that there are neurotypical kids who are handfuls-and-a-half too. It's just...kindergarten.
The rest of my "what ifs"...well, we'll deal with them. It's early early days.
Friday morning was the first Community Circle of the year (where the kids sing songs and announcements are made - there was even a faux-flash mob where the teachers got up and danced, which was very cute). We were in the corner and watched my daughter walk in with her class. She pointed at us and said aloud "That's my mom and dad!" and then she essentially behaved herself. She clapped, she sang, she stood (with help - I watched to make sure that went smoothly and it did) for the Pledge of Allegiance (in English and Spanish!). At one point her main teacher turned to give another kid a thumbs up and my daughter saw and LIT UP and gave a thumbs up back - and her teacher's face lit up too, and I got all choked up.
I didn't really want my kid to be a trailblazer yet again - part of a teacher's first inclusion class again? Really? We did this once before and it was rough. But it seems like this time around there's more support for the teacher. Mine is the only kid on wheels in the school as far as I know, but it seems like accommodations are being made quietly - we were told that a railing will be put in on a certain set of stairs, for example, and I have a funny feeling we'll see some new ramps here and there too.
And meanwhile my daughter is taking more and more steps - I think we're up to eight at a time - and her longtime PT suggested that she not even use her walker at all in her classroom, so I've passed that along to her teachers. She can cruise, crawl, or, yes, step. Her PT said we need to teach her to view herself differently now - as a kid who is upright and who can walk. The fact that every time we turn our backs she's laughing and walking (and falling) suggests to me that we're on our way.
So for now, I choose to believe that we will have a very good year. But I will keep on updating along the way.