Thursday, April 26, 2012

C: Both A & B

As we continue to think about next year for Dean, neither sending him to a typical preschool or sending him to the center-based (special ed) setting feels right. They BOTH do. So the answer is neither A nor B, but C: both A and B. We visited a local preschool yesterday that is the perfect fit for Dean. He'd be on the older end, which I think is good, and it's pretty laid-back. They have center time for an hour, then snack, music, circle time, and outside time. The director said, "We have kind of low expectations for our young 3s... they're still so little!" I know that sounds odd, but I know exactly what she meant. Dean likes his special ed school now, but sometimes the intensity of it seems to make him a little anxious. We're concerned that going only to the center-based placement, where everything is so intensive, might be too much. It sounds like this other preschool could be a good balance. With the combination, Dean would go to the typical preschool on Monday and Wednesday mornings, and then to center-based (not sure about half- or full-day) Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. With *just* center-based, he'd be there full days on every day except Wednesday, so with the combo, he misses Monday at center-based. No matter what, it's a LOT. I do think consistency is good for Dean, but I want some of the times to be more laid-back, like they are in the typical preschool. Dean lights up around his peers when the pressure is off. They can't guarantee for us that center-based will have enough appropriate speech models, and they can't guarantee the degree of inclusion with typical kids (if at all). This is very concerning to us. We want to make sure that Dean is with all kinds of kids, not just those with special needs. I mentioned a possible variation to the center-based placement, like the one described above, to Dean's teacher and she didn't seem thrilled. She feels that center-based is the best place for someone like Dean to have all the instruction he needs so that he can meet his IEP goals. She said, "you have to decide whether you are concerned about socialization for him or about meeting his IEP goals." Umm, boooooth? How is this an either/or? She did reassure me that the goal of the center-based placement is to give intensive instruction and support early on so that hopefully they need less of it later. And the hope is to mainstream them to the greatest extent appropriate by the time they get to elementary school. Ok, that's good. I think this can all be accomplished in 3 full days of center-based, plus what he gets at the typical preschool... this does not seem unreasonable. A neighbor of ours with an adult son with Down syndrome is AWESOME and is going to come with us to Dean's IEP meeting about all this on June 1! So excited to have someone who knows her stuff and is on our side at the meeting. Continuing to pray and discern.... (in the meanwhile, please vote today for the PWS video! The White House is within reach! VOTE!!!)

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