Sunday, October 16, 2011

eSpecially Parents September Edition: Denise's Story

Luke and I are new to the public education system in Texas. Beginning soon after Luke’s birth, we had ECI come to our house several times a week for PT, OT, deaf education, and swallowing therapy. I was able to sit in on all Luke’s sessions and knew exactly what to work on with him. Since turning three, Luke’s case was handed over to the public school system which seemed to complicate things a bit.

Since Luke’s birthday is 10 days before the end of the school year, we were able to enroll him in school and get our feet wet with the preschool program for children with disabilities (PPCD). Luke is deaf and wears a cochlear implant for hearing. Because he also has other delays, he doesn’t meet the qualifications for the deaf ed program and is in a class with kids who have all different types of disabilities. One of our biggest concerns with Luke’s development is his very limited communication. Unfortunately, none of the other children in Luke’s class are hearing impaired so it’s hard to know if Luke is in the ideal setting to promote his oral communication.

Another frustration is the change in staff. Last year I was able to sit in on a class and meet with his teacher to discuss his learning plan. Everything was going well. His teacher seemed to be patient, caring, experienced and on board with trying to develop Luke’s speech with total communication. She also gave me detailed accounts of his day and progress. I was sad to learn that this teacher was leaving just as we were getting used to her and excited to start a new school year with Luke her classroom.

Illness has also been a struggle for us since school started four weeks ago. Luke has never been in daycare before so he catches everything that is going around. The illness also passes to everyone else in the house so getting everyone, including myself, well has been my main priority this year. I’m hoping this will all level off soon so I can focus on getting Luke better settled into his new preschool program and get myself more involved in the classroom.

Now that our family seems to be feeling better it is time to get down to business. We are trying to schedule an ARD meeting (not really sure what it stands for) to sit down with the school therapists and administration. From what other families have told me this can be a very intimidating process. We’ve been through one before but had our ECI professionals attended on Luke’s behalf. I know we need to fight for more speech services since Luke can clearly benefit from this daily through the school. Right now he gets only 15 minutes twice a week. Hardly enough time to settle down an active toddler and minimize other distraction to really focus on the therapy.

We do receive speech privately for an hour twice a week but because of his poor communication skills, Luke is starting to get frustrated and has resorted to banging his head and having tantrums. I’m not too worried about OT/PT service since Luke receives more than 90 minutes of eac,h weekly through private therapy. He is also walking and has fairly
good fine motor skills.

Even though we clearly have some issues to work out, I’m glad that Luke is able to go to preschool this year. I’ve met with his teacher and she also seems very caring and focused on getting these children to learn.

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