Monday, June 16, 2008

Looking Forward

Wow, I've been a really bad blogger lately, haven't I? Life has been carrying on, pretty much business as usual. Last Wednesday was my last day of work for the summer, so I was pretty busy leading up to that with tons of last minute testing and paperwork. The girls were also sick with a pretty nasty cold-like virus that lasted about 10 days and were needing lots of breathing treatments. They are much better now, and we're quite happy to have made it through another illness with no hospitalizations! Wouldn't it be great if that whole sick=hospital thing were a thing of the past?

We had the girls IEPs the end of last month, and they went pretty well. The only semi-glitch has been with the county's hearing impaired program, and I don't think I can really call it a glitch. Last year they wrote a dissenting opinion to the IEP because they thought I should send Eden to their preschool. This year they were vocal in voicing their opinion again, though not with an official dissent. I think they make some good points, and certainly there are many good things about their hearing impaired program. However, as anyone who knows me knows, I have explored and questioned and considered every option, and when I look at EDEN, and at the BIG picture, I feel like we are making the right decision.

My reasons for NOT choosing the hearing impaired preschool for Eden are numerous. Logistically it does not work because it would be 30-60 minutes on the bus each way, it is 5 days a week, it is only offered for a morning session making breakfast and lunch difficult if not impossible to work out, and Holland could not go to the same school. For those reasons alone it is not an option. Add to that the fact that the auditory-verbal therapy center that we have taken Eden to for follow-up has recommended that she be fully included in a "normal" speaking/listening environment, with children developing "normal" speech and language to maximize her use of the cochlear implant, and our decision becomes even easier. Of course, that whole piece is more controversial, and open to interpretation, so there are politics involved. It doesn't seem to matter how well-set I am in what I want to happen with an IEP, it is always difficult to hear a dissenting opinion, and have my judgment questioned with regards to what is right for my child and my family, so even after all my preparation I left the meeting in tears. IEPs just suck, no matter how you look at it.

Anyhow... Holland and Eden will be attending a PLUS preschool in the fall in our school district. The PLUS preschool is a general education setting for children identified as "at-risk." Our school district has a grant which allows for an "inclusion" piece to the program. Each classroom has space for 4 children with IEPs, and is staffed with a full time special education teacher and aide, in addition to a gen ed teacher and aide. Parents are asked to volunteer once a month (do you think I can do twice a month since I have two kids?), and Eden will have a full time aide to assist with her physical needs. She'll also get PT/OT/ST/HI services, and Holland will get PT/OT, both mostly on a consultant basis rather than direct service.

We have visited the program for an open-house, and have met most of the staff. It seems like a perfect fit. They are already in love with the girls, and seem very open and willing to work with us. Although it will be hard for me to let them go, I know Holland and Eden are going to love it and it will be good for everyone. Still...nothing is set in stone. I can change my mind, I can make mistakes, I can reopen the IEP, I can pull them out of school and keep them safe at home with me for the next 2 years if I really want to. So there!

In other, more fun news, we have lots of great plans for the summer. We are leaving Thursday for a mini-trip to Chicago. The girls are totally OBSESSED with trains right now, so we are taking the train, staying two nights, and hitting Shedd Aquarium. Our major big-time super gigantic adventure this summer will be to Disneyworld for the girls birthday!!! We have our airplane tickets and they girls are talking every day about what we will do while we are there...visit Ariel in her "grotto," have breakfast with princesses, have dinner with Mickey, see Handy Manny and "say hi to tools," see Cinderella's castle, and watch the fireworks, etc. We are all very excited.

Eden is my princess girl, with her princess shoes, princess bathing suit, and princess bell on her walker. Her number one video request is for "princesses," she knows all of their names, and her favorite color is pink. Holland likes princesses too, but she is more of a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse kinda girl. Even more than that she loves Thomas the Tank Engine, and her favorite color is blue. Did you know that you can't buy a Mickey Mouse or Thomas bathing suit for a girl? That bugs me.

We just finished an 8-week parent/tot swim class at a therapy pool nearby. Two of Holland and Eden's cousins and one of our good friends swam with us and we had a great time. My girls both LOVE to swim, and we look forward to a lot more water time this summer. We're also looking into horseback riding. I found a t-ball team for kids with special needs, and we are totally THERE next spring. Eden will have her power chair by then, which will be perfect for running bases. We're hoping to have power wheels by the end of the month...I guess I'll believe it when I see it.

I just read back through this post, and boy it is kind of random. But, that is where we are right now, and it's kind of hard to write a cohesive post with a little girl on your lap pushing buttons:) So, this is from Eden:
eeeeeeeeeet,hteyik.i jp ;or kut[yl'po
l[oy]o[lo][l[]poy] oi[kp


Mamá Terapeuta said...

Hi! Glad to hear the girls are doing better! I just wanted to tell you that we are buying the pony!!! We are still choosing between pony and Cricket (which is indoor and outdoor)... -but, thanks for the inspiration!!! I think it would be so much fun for my girl!

And good luck on both trips! Just in case you don't know, in Disney you can get a pass to jump the lines, for free, because of the girls. They can go along with 6 people so its kinda usefull :)

Unknown said...

Hey Billie,

Oh I wanna go to Disneyworld with you. lol Holland and Connor would get along great because he loves Mickey too and we will probably have his bday party theme in Mickey. He also loves trains!

I think it's your decision to do what you think is best for your family and it sounds like the pre-school in your district will be good for the girls.

I love the pic's you posted for Fathers day. The girls are so darn cute!


Katy said...

My mom is totally itching to take Charlie to Disney World, but I think we need to wait at least another year.

As someone who has done the Special Ed thing before (as a teacher), sometimes they need to disagree to protect themselves from a law suit. I once had a parent remove their child from my Special Needs reading class. Well, Holy Hell broke loose when he failed his senior year. Luckily, the parents weren't hopping mad, but the administration was scared to death that they were going to get sued. I dont' know what it's like where you are, but some places are just really paranoid.I've worked in other districts where they would stick perfectly capable kids in remedial reading classes just to show that they were trying to help. Politics will always play a role in these things.

Sounds like you guys have an awesome summer planned. Enjoy it before you have to send your "babies" off to school.

Anonymous said...

Billie, My daughter works with John and I have enjoyed reading about your family since the girls were babies. As a special ed mediator and facilitator I was sad to hear about how hard the people from the hearing impaired school made your IEP experience. You have a beautiful daughter who is more than just hearing impaired. You seem to have a handle on all of whom she is and have made logical and loving choices for her. Do not let them intimidate you. Please, if you feel this will happen again, request a facilitator be present at Eden's IEP. No cost to you at all. BKirby

Kendra Lynn said...

They are going to LOVE Disney!

Have fun this summer!


Paradiso said...

Hi Billie, I've been reading your blog for years now and your beautiful girls never fail to brighten my day. I actually live in Chicago and thought you might not know about the Chicago Children's Museum at Navy Pier:

I think Holland and Eden would enjoy the museum a lot. They have an urban garden full of giant bugs and flowers, a waterworks playroom, Kidstown: a mini Chicago with buses to drive and a grocery store to shop in, and lots of other exhibits. Everything is at a child's eye level and meant to be touched, pulled on, thrown, played with, etc. The rooms are big and have hard floors, I think Eden would have no trouble navigating in her pony walker.

Dandelion Quilts said...

You are doing the right thing, Billie. You are a good mom. You are an informed mom. You make good, educated decisions. You know your children better than anyone. Don't ever let them make you doubt yourself. You make decisions that are right for your family. Stand tall.

Anonymous said...

Hey Billie,
I know your pain RE mickey mouse stuff for girls, my daughter LOVES him too, but its a real pain getting anything thats girlie with mickey on, its all minnie minnie minnie. Disney have these little hooded dresses though, that can be personalised with your favourite character (mickey and all the princesses included) and also your kids name and theyre great for holidays, we got one for our daughter who is 2 and theyre good quality and brilliant value, theyre only 12.99 each! Theyre technically swimming cover-up dresses, but ours wears it all the time. And theres even three different mickeys to choose from!
il put the link in, but its a bit long!
They do personalised bags and lunch bags in the same characters too, which are perfect for holidays or school!
Have fun!

Ask A Life Coach! said...

chicago! cool- I live there and there's a lot of cool stuff here for kids.... let me know if you need any information about chicago.

long time reader, and the kids are adorable!

Nancy said...

The Shedd Aquarium is free this week! Not sure if it goes through until Saturday if you are planning on going there on the weekend though. Also, if you bring your school ID there is a discount on ticket prices at all the museums ;)

Have fun!

Kellars Mommy said...

Disney I am so ready to take my lil one there, I can't wait to read about all the fun ya'll had...The pic of Eden eating the popsicle is great!!!!

Anonymous said...

My son (now 9) was in the PLUS preschool and I thought it was wonderful. He didn't face anywherer near the challenges as Eden and Holland, but I really appreciated how his teacher was able to adapt to his particular quirks. I hope you end up being as happy with it as I was!