Saturday, August 20, 2011

Plan B

After much negotiating with the principal of the preschool I've been trying so hard to get Quinn into, she agreed to take him on a one-month trial — provided I came along with him. So I got my schedule all worked out, and then ... she called and said they've decided they want us to come again for a "visit" — and that visit won't be until two weeks into the school year. At that point, he may or may not be invited for another visit. And at the end of all this, he may or may not be accepted. 

What it comes down to is, I think, is they just don't want Quinn at their school. It's grant-supported, and in these tough economic times I think they're quite desperate to show that every kid improved with their curriculum. Because the principal fears Quinn has autism, I believe she's scared he'll skew her rankings. I get that, but I also know Quinn a little better than she does, and I honestly do believe he would thrive there.

But ... but. She expects him to fail. So, really, how could he not??

So while I made the appointment for us to visit in a couple of weeks, my gut tells me we won't be keeping that date. Instead, we're going to return to his special-ed preschool and I'm going to ask that the goals in his Individualized Education Plan be updated. Because, honestly, his speech delay isn't that big a deal anymore. He's progressing beautifully. Instead, I want to ask them to work on helping him to listen and follow directions, to make eye contact and to interact with other kids. Those things, I think, are the keys to helping him succeed later in school. As for speech and academics, we'll work on that stuff at home and supplement with some extra-curriculars like the swim and music classes we've been taking this summer.

It's funny, I've been fighting for so long to make this whole speech preschool thing happen. But now that I've pretty much decided against it, I really feel this path is the best one for Quinn right now.

And so ... here comes Plan B.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Day Out With Thomas

Last week we went to a preschool spectacle called "Day Out With Thomas." The kids get to ride in a train pulled by Thomas and also have access to a boatload of related activities: Thomas face painting, coloring pages, jumping castles, train tables, temporary tattoos - and, of course, an entire airplane hangar packed with Thomas merchandise for sale.

Quinn loved every little thing about this event. Tom snapped this photo after we boarded the open-air train and just before it took off. His expression shows the joy and wonder that was on his sweet face the whole day long.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The big week is now in our rear-view mirror

When last I wrote (which must have been 10 years ago now - sorry!) I mentioned that Quinn had a big week ahead. So here's how it went:

New play group: Eek! He loved the "play" part, which lasts an hour. The circle time part? Um, not so much. He squirmed, he kicked, he didn't listen, he didn't participate. No big nightmare, but not the biggest success, either.

New music class: Yay! Similar behavior issues, but the class is co-taught by a special ed teacher/ music therapist who is both understanding and full of good ideas. Quinn really enjoys it, although he doesn't exactly do what you would call participate...

New therapist: Yay! LOVE her. Very smart, great with kids. On our first visit she seemed a bit flightly; but on our second visit she showed up armed with a plan of action just for Quinn and a truckload of great strategies. She also served up something I hadn't heard of before: a compression vest, basically two pieces of neoprene that wrap very tightly around him. He is not crazy about the vest, but darned if it doesn't calm him right down.

Entrance evaluation for the speech and language preschool: OH MY GOD! In our first phone conversation, the director told me that Quinn sounded like more than they could handle. She agreed to test him, but made it very clear that if he couldn't finish the test - which can last up to 90 minutes - he wouldn't be admitted. Friends and therapists told me not to worry, that it would be games and fun activities. Wrong!

I swear, it was like the test was created just for Quinn to fail. It was 90 minutes of this poor child sitting at a table answering questions. I could not believe this was being expected of a 4-year-old. At two points I had to sit with him on my lap because he got so squirmy. And once we took a break at my dear mother's absolute insistence. (Also, I put the compression vest on wrong and he immediately tore it off.) But, by God, this child FINISHED that test. Even when the tester came out into the hall afterwards and told us SHE HAD MISSED AN ENTIRE SECTION OF THE TEST AND WE HAD TO COME BACK IN - he did it. I was so proud of him I just hugged him afterwards and tried not to cry. The speech pathologist who administered the test took a quick look at his results and said his receptive language skills are absolutely normal, meaning he understands what he hears - he just doesn't necessarily answer or follow directions based on what he hears.

So is he in? We don't know yet. I phoned the director the next day to ask her what's next, and I could tell she was gearing up to say they weren't going to take Quinn - even though she admitted she hadn't seen his test results yet. So I offered to enroll him on a trial basis, and take him out after a set period if they thought he was too disruptive. She seemed open to that, but we'll have to see.

So why am I so determined to get him into this horrible-sounding school? Because when we visited last spring I was absolutely blown away by the quality of the programming, the love the teachers showed the kids and the results I have heard about from friends who sent their kids there.

We're supposed to hear this week. I swear, I'll post an update before another month has passed!