Monday, January 28, 2013
Our vacation and the beginning of special ed
This was at the new pirate museum in Galveston. It was pretty neat for the bigger kids. Jacob had no interest in it at all.
Jacob loved all the lights at the Kemah boardwalk carnival. He didn't ride any of the rides, but loved to watch the other kids.
This was our first mini vacation with the entire family. It was a much needed break away for our family and boy did we have fun. We just went away for one night and one full day, but it was packed with fun for the kids. Cret and I were so happy when we got home because Jacob did well enough that we know we can occasionally go places like that with him. Its important to us to be aware of Jacobs needs while also letting the other kids experience some normal fun activities. We feel so blessed to have had some time away.
Today was the beginning of our adventure with the public school system for Jacob. Jacob will begin special education in the fall of 2013. I have been very nervous about the whole thing because I have heard so many stories about budget and teachers and parents that I just did not know what to expect. Today's meeting was an informational meeting to introduce us to the team that will be working with Jacob doing his evaluations and placement and our ARD meeting. I was nervous to meet with these women because I didn't know how they would treat us and Jacob. I was fearful that decisions would be made based on budget rather than Jacob's individual needs.
When we came into the meeting they began to give us information on the different programs offered by the district. I asked them about the differences in programs and after they explained them it seemed obvious that Jacob will likely qualify for the more intensive programs. The programs offered in Humble Independent School District include
Speech Therapy-this is for children with only some speech problems and you go by appointment
STEPS-This is for children whose receptive language is on target but they need help with expressive language
PPCD-This is for children with different disabilities
STEPS PLUS- This is for kids targeting their expressive and pragmatic skills, such as social issues and initiating and requesting
SPEAK-This is a specialized program for children with ASD
SCD-This is for children with a severe communication disorder
Mindy, Jacob's ABA therapist suggests that Jacob should be in SCD. After discussing what each program does and what aspects are necessary to qualify a child for a program my husband and I also agree that SCD is appropriate for Jacob. I hadn't realized how severe Jacob was until I asked about the STEPS PLUS program. A friend of mine had her non verbal autistic child in that program and loved it. They said that program would help with initiating speech and making friends. Well, I knew right then that Jacob couldn't do that because he has no idea what a friend even is. He doesn't know what a cup is. Regardless, as I spoke with the ladies they assured me that their evaluations are very detailed and they will place him exactly where he needs to be. They also highly suggested that I let Jacob take the special bus to school. They said that it comes to our front door. Two adults are on the bus at all times and there are car seats and seat belts. I immediately said, "I plan on taking him to school. I am a home school mom at heart, so the idea of putting him in school is hard enough much less sending him away on a bus." The idea of sending him on the bus at this age is kind of heartbreaking to me. I also don't know how long his commute will be if they have to pick up a bunch of other kids. They told me that the school bus is not only fun for the kids, but a new learning experience and a way to transition the kids. They highly suggested I let him take the bus instead of driving him to school. Does anyone have experience with this? I love to hear moms opinions both ways. Jacob currently does not have transitioning problems, but I can see how maybe the bus is another good social experience for him. At this point I do not see myself sending him on the bus.
So as a friend suggested, we were very open and honest and not afraid to tell them our real feelings. At one point Cret asked if the budget was considered in deciding where they would place Jacob. They told us absolutely not. Its scary to think that the education your child gets may be based on financial issues, but of course it has to. I told them that we were very involved parents and this was not a day care for us. Some teacher friends of mine told me that some parents use special ed as day care and don't really care about the program at all. I explained that we intended on helping the teacher in every way that we could. I told them that I would be room mom, or bring crafts, or snack or anything needed. They asked me about my education and how Jacob got diagnosed so early. They told us how important it is for children to get early intervention. Right about then, Cret started getting very emotional. Its hard to explain how it feels to be at this point with your baby. All of a sudden its all very real. Anyways, he was thanking them for their dedication to our son and then they told him how nice it was to see a couple so united and getting along so well. He grabbed my hand and told them that it was all thanks to his wife. Well, as you can imagine, that made me start crying. I told them that this has been an emotional journey for us. They all were just so sweet to us and I couldn't be happier with the way the meeting turned out. I think I am ready to for the evaluations.
Our next step is a health exam at Hidden Hollow Elementary School. In March we will begin his evaluations, which will take place over a few days. Afterwards, they will meet with me to discuss the program that they plan on enrolling Jacob in and then we will have our official ARD meeting the week of his birthday in June. He will begin school in August.
Please be in prayer for the teachers and that their tests will sufficiently diagnose and evaluate Jacob. Please pray for Cret and I as we begin the special ed process and for our other children who I know will be confused as to why Jacob will be leaving the house each day. Please also pray for Jacob, that he will continue learning and growing and developing and that the transition into school will not be too tough for him.