IsaaIsaac's going to pre-school!
Earlier today, Jeremiah, Jessica, and I took Isaac to his Child Find eligibility and IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting. We knew he would qualify for services, so the eligibility part was more of a formality. I was nervous about the IEP part, not knowing what goals they would suggest or if we would have to fight a team that we would rather be working with than against. It turned out so well, better than I expected, and with fairly impressive efficiency based on the number of people in the room. We learned that our local elementary school has an opening in the MWF morning preschool. We had imagined getting Isaac into a Tuesday/Thursday class to help ease us into this new and exciting routine, but the preschool teacher made the great point that, if he has three days a week available to attend, he won't miss out on as much if he needs to be gone for an appointment. It also gives more time for the therapists and special educators to get into the classroom. The therapists that Isaac will have at school will focus on helping him access his education and his school experience. They recognize that Isaac does not have a cognitive impairment, he just needs significant support to communicate his wants and needs, to express himself and what he knows, and to participate in all of the fun stuff that preschool has to offer. He will be in the general education classroom, with no modifications made to what he is expected to learn. I'm already a huge fan of the preschool teacher and the therapists, and the special education coordinators, seeing how well they communicated with one another in this meeting and how clearly they respect each other's professions and roles in the school. We were so grateful to hear that the plan includes a full-time paraprofessional for Isaac, which mean someone is dedicated to helping him, hand-over-hand, with activities in the classroom. Either his nurse or I will be in the classroom for Isaac's medical needs, which was another fight I was expecting that turned into a non-issue. I know parents in other states or just other school districts who have had to go through a few hoops to be able to attend school with their child for medical reasons, so I was relieved to hear that I was not expected to go through said hoops. (I would like to pause here to reminisce about a time that my friend Erin and I went to a town meeting when we worked as homeless prevention and outreach volunteers, and a rather notorious local figure asked us, in his best "I'm intimidating and you are but young 20-something girls" voice, if our clients at least had to jump through some hoops to get financial assistance with their rent. Erin replied, "Well, they aren't circus animals, so no, they don't jump through hoops, but we do have a detailed intake process." If she hadn't already been my hero, that was the moment she became one.)
Back to preschool. At some point in the meeting, toward the end, someone spoke up to say, while glancing between her calendar and her paperwork "So, let's see, Isaac turns 3 on February 11...That's a...Saturday...So...he will staaart... on February 13th." Jeremiah and I looked at each other and at Jessica and at Isaac, like "Oh! Okay! Let's dive right in!" It is what we wanted, but I had imagined some extra wait time for paperwork or whatnot. So now, starting February 13, Isaac has preschool MWF mornings, Natalie has preschool MWF afternoons, and we will fit the rest of life (speech therapy, physical therapy, dance class, gymnastics class, swim lessons, doctor appointments, proceduces, and, um, WORK). Suddenly life as a parent to a special needs child got busier, and I thank God that we are at this point. Seriously, Isaac is starting preschool. Let that sink in. Go back and read our posts from the first month or two after his diagnosis, and then come back and read those words.
In other news, his third birthday party is planned and it will be awesome. There will be a magician. And magic bunnies. And BBQ (pork, not bunnies). And Octonauts themed cookies. And Isaac!
We can't thank you all enough. Without your support and prayers, I don't know where we would be, but I don't think it would be here.