Quinn's tests for public special-ed preschool were a classic example of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
The way these tests work, if a child fails three consecutive challenges in a given area, that test is over. Quinn typically hit that threshold very early, indicating very serious delays. He is missing many of the basic, basic building blocks - not surprising for a child who spent his first 16 months in an orphanage with little stimulation. BUT, if you skip over the baby stuff, Quinn has many skills of a child his age or older. He knows his letters and numbers, can figure out how most anything works, knows which key goes into which lock and has memorized countless books and songs.
So how to score him? If the test results take into account his more advanced skills, he would not qualify. If they focus on his lack of basic skills, he would certainly qualify.
His therapists all agree that he will benefit from this program, and want him in it. So after much discussion we decided to follow the rules to the letter: When he failed three consecutive challenges, test over. They all agree this is fully ethical, and best for Quinn.
So that's what we did. And he qualified. He will attend preschool for two hours four days a week, and will get 30 minutes of speech therapy every week and 30 minutes of occupational therapy every other week.
We visited his assigned school yesterday, still unsure if this is the route we wanted to go. We were convinced in about two seconds. The atmosphere was fabulous. We arrived during "free choice" time. A little girl in a smock was painting a picture. An occupational therapist was playing a game with a few kids. The teacher was filling the kids' backpacks with goodies while chatting with each one. One aide was helping kids build a tower while another aide played "snack time," helping kids cut and serve a plastic pizza cooked in a toy microwave. Quinn headed straight for the train table and stayed there - sometimes playing on his own, sometimes with other kids - until it was time for clean up and circle time. He knew just what to do when the Barney "clean up" song came on - and when it was over he headed over the CD player and started it up again (Mrs. Schreiber is going to have to move that CD player!). Much to our amazement, he plopped down in a chair for circle time and participated in the song and hand movements.
We are SO excited about this school and the opportunities it holds for Quinn. Aug. 23 can't come soon enough!