Our little guy is now a pre-schooler. Today was his first day - and it was a long journey to get him here.
It was early this year that we had our first meeting with the new Special Education Director for our school district. Our district had never had an ECDD (Early Childhoold Developmental Delay) program and the new director had come from a district that ran a pretty successful one - so we felt confident he knew what one should look like - just weren't sure how much the district would cooperate.
At first our district was about a year away from having a program - so we would have to get into an adjoining districts program if we wanted our son to start in September. The other district is known for being very tough and selective on who it "allows" in their program so we had to go through many different hoops and paperwork. We were told our son who is not Autistic needed to be listed as ASD in order to qualify for this program. We toured the ASD class room and were not sure that we wanted our son in that program. Not because these were Autistic kids and we didn't want him near them -not at all - but we felt Hayden would not be challenged enough in the class setting and he would be much better in the CI (cognitively impaired) room.
After touring the classroom and deciding to go CI - I met with our districts director only to find out that they would indeed by having their own ECDD program and the school board had given approval to start in September. This was great news because the school would be only 6 houses away from us.
In order to start this program the district needed a teacher - and the day we got back from the National FX Conference there was a message on our phone asking Tina to be one of the people on the panel to interview potential candidates. I feel we have developed a pretty good working relationship with the new director and he values our opinions and our desires for Haydens success. The selection process was really good and a teacher was hired.
Next - the three most difficult letters for special ed parents - the IEP (individual education plan). It is federal law that all special ed children have an IEP - where the parents and a team of educators and therapists put together programs and education plans for the child. We've heard many stories about parents struggles to get services and proper goals for their children - and we armed ourself with as much knowledge and prepared as much as we could for our time.
We laid out a few nights before what our goals were and what we wanted and also put together a "get to know Hayden" packet that had some of his traits, favorite things, and just some info on his FX - so the teacher who didn't know him had an idea of who he is. Oh - and a box of Tim Hortons Timbits helped too. The IEP team was very impressed with us - and while we didn't really discuss goals - we felt very comfortable with the team. We agreed to meet again in 30 days so the teacher had a chance to get to know Hayden and we could put together better goals. Overall - it was an ok meeting - and we feel pretty comfortable that our team will listen to our concerns.
Which leads to today and his first day of pre-school. He put on his Little Einsteins back-pack - and with some coaxing and prodding walked to school as Mommy and Daddy took pictures and filmed. He wasn't too happy to be in the classroom when we walked in - but we took him in and let him go - and headed to breakfast. Teacher said he did pretty good - got a little tired towards the end - but the night before he didn't sleep too well and this was his first day - so we think it will get better.
And so our education journey begins. Our ultimate goal for these 2 years of pre-school is to get Hayden prepared for full inclusion into Kindergarten without having an aide to help. Every IEP we sign and every step we take is to get to that point. Then - we evaluate where we are there and make more goals.
I'm sure this will be a process of ups and downs - and the road will not be easy. But we are prepared to give Hayden everything we can - and we know he can do it.