Sunday, May 18, 2008

Big meeting, big stress

Tomorrow morning, we have a meeting with the school district about services for the kiddo both over the summer and for next year when she's in kindergarten. These include OT and PT again, though the kiddo has now overcome her speech issues and no longer will be needing speech therapy. I have some concerns about the transition to kindergarten and want to be sure that every necessary support is in place to allow the kiddo to be successful, so I'm more than a little stressed about the meeting. After all the testing and evaluations were completed for this year, we met with the kiddo's preschool teacher (whom I adore) and went over everything, including what we plan to request. My main concern is that there won't be adequate sensory support for the kiddo and she will have trouble being able to maintain her focus for the longer periods of time that full-day kindergarten (as it is in our district) will require. Yes, this is a key time when SPD rears its troublesome head, and on top of being stressed, I am upset and frustrated and heartbroken all over again to think of the additional difficulties she will face through having something that is not at all her fault. No parent wants to see their child struggle, and this meeting is our main chance to ensure that she has what she needs to avoid any struggle, or at least to minimize it as much as possible.

Being kindergarten and therefore a totally new environment and school adds to my nervousness. Preschool was a known entity, but this is the "big leagues" now. It feels so much more sink or swim, though I'm hoping that this is a false impression. I've already spoken (albeit briefly) with the principal of the elementary school we believe the kiddo will be attending (there is a chance at the meeting, it could be decided a different school in the district is a more appropriate setting for her) and at more length with one of the other school administrators. I've also been in touch with the Occupational Therapist who worked at the school, though she is leaving at the end of this school year and they will be getting a new OT.

Basically, what we need is for there to be adequate sensory support for the kiddo. This can include any number of things, from sitting on an air cushion (similar to the one we have at home and the ones they have at her preschool), using a pressure vest (we send hers in her backpack for school each day) to having an OT do joint compressions, deep pressure or "heavy work" to give her extra sensory input. We're asking for a certain amount of OT each week and her preschool teacher actually called me today to say she thinks we should ask for more than the kiddo's current OT had suggested, so she is going to talk to the OT and have something in writing to present at the meeting tomorrow. (Just one of the reasons I adore her preschool teacher - she was thinking about and worrying about getting the best services in place for the kiddo over the weekend just as I was.) The school has an OT room with trampolines and swings, which are two of the key devices to helping the kiddo regulate her system. Ideally, I'd love a plan in which the kiddo gets taken to the OT room at regular intervals each day for some trampoline-ing or swinging, or other heavy work, along with things like her pressure vest and air cushion. At her preschool now, the staff recognize when the kiddo is needing extra sensory input and can (and do) provide it to her, either in the classroom or in the OT clinic upstairs. Will the kindergarten staff be able to recognize when she is needing extra input and provide it for her, or will she just be labeled a "troublemaker" or a "bad student" because she can't sit still for the required amount of time? This is my fear, and on the other end is the fear that she will be labeled or discriminated against because of being a special needs student. (Her present designation is "preschooler with a disability" but I believe that once she is in kindergarten, she'll be classified as "special needs - other health impaired" and somehow, the label seems more... dangerous, I guess is the word I'm looking for, once she's in the big, bad world of elementary school.) I want her to have the help she needs but not to be judged for it. She is a very, very, very smart kid and has shown this past year how well she can do with the appropriate support. Now we have to convince the school district of this tomorrow and then make sure that the school follows through with the plan...... We've got the kiddo's team all on the same page, so we'll be presenting a united and hopefully convincing front tomorrow to the school district Powers That Be. I only hope that this year's meeting goes as well as last year's meeting, when we got everything we asked for without any trouble. There's a new chairperson on board this time around for the committee, and that is just one more unknown variable to mess with my stress level. Even an extra mile on the elliptical trainer at the gym this afternoon didn't help lessen my stress (and neither did the chocolate caramel brownie I had after lunch. Gotta be bad if chocolate can't cure it!) Ugh. Please think good thoughts and say a prayer for us at 9 tomorrow morning. Hopefully I'll have good news to report!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am hoping for a positive proactive meeting this morning..if you don't get what you want hire and advocate to help you get what DD needs. I love all the things that she does with the OT I bet it makes a huge difference and if the kindergarten teacher gets to see the difference then she will see it really works. I have heard of teachers seeing it work and requesting it for other children in the class room...positive thoughts coming your way