Friday, May 13, 2011

Less than 72 hours

We will have the first IEP meeting for my youngest with Autism. She'll be starting Early Childhood preschool after she turns 3 at the end of May. We expect the school district to "let her fail" Or I should say "let themselves fail" until we get to the point of a due process and force her out of the district into a special private school. What we would like to happen is to come into the IEP meeting Monday afternoon and by the grace of God they tell us from the very start, "we can't handle her needs and we'll place her in out of district school." We can dream right? My best friend said if they allow it right off the bat we better go play the lotto because it's extremely rare for them to go from the get go say "we can't handle her needs."

In case we get a miracle on Monday that they'll go for out of district the little one and I went on a tour of a private Autism school about 40 minutes from our house. That's a general minimum time it would take her to get there on a bus. The only two ways to get there are both under construction. Awesome.

My first impression upon walking into the school is a stark new reality. Twenty years ago these kids would have been in an institution and they would have been considered mentally challenged. Today we don't have enough schools for our children. This school is already on it's 3rd building and they have already out grown this building they are in. Oy.

They have one on one aides, multiple therapists, dim lights, a sensory room, a huge trampoline and huge gymnasium. The school is for all ages but starts with Early Childhood preschool which many schools do not. Another thing about the school is that it is an all day program 8:30-2:45 and year round.  Wow. It would be intense therapy with academic learning. All in all it would be a blessing. We hope like most parents ( I think ) that she could mainstream one day and that is part of the goals they will work with her on.

Knowing what is out there compared to what she is going to get just leaves me with a sick feeling. The sensory room at her future school is the size of a janitor's closet. The sensory items won't even be moved to the summer school building. Obviously these things by law have to be met. Will they be met in 3 weeks time? Don't know.

My husband tells me not to worry about things until they happen but um HELLO who is the one researching the schools? No not him because he works two jobs. It's me. I get it. I'm the stay at home Mom and that's part of being a glorified secretary.  I worry because I want the best that is out there for her.  I worry because I want to plan.   I want to know her schedule will be so I can plan for her sister as well. I don't want her getting the shaft this summer with not doing anything fun. I don't like living with uncertainty. It raises my anxiety and that makes me an unhappy momma.

This week though I got to be room Mom at her little school for the last time. They celebrated her birthday the day I was there though I am a lame ass and didn't get the birthday goodie bags done til tonight. So I'll send my friend with a bunch on Monday while we are at her evaluation and IEP and I'll drop the rest off on her last day of school. 

I kinda of went all out on these goodie bags. They are kinda of a mix of Thank You for being my friend understanding why I don't have my words and Happy Birthday. So the boys stuff was pretty easy, thank you dollar spot Target. The girls stuff was even more easy since my husband works for a national company that caters to lo and behold little girls/preteens. So they get some pretty nice stash. 
But I included this note with the bags:

I have Autism. Autism is a developmental disability that affects social and communication skills. Children with Autism tend to behave in an odd and unpredictable way as a result of their disability. Thank you for being understanding and being my friend.
Avery and her family

Am I apologizing to them for her Autism? I feel like I am a little bit, but also feel like I'm trying to say, "sorry my kid was a PITA and threw tantrums any time your kid came near mine and made your kid cry all year." All the parents have to volunteer each semester so the parents all have had some type of contact with my little girl. Also one of my friends has a daughter in the room with her on one of the same days. So when she's been room Mom it's been a good thing. So her little one is getting a really good bag ;)

So on Thursday I got to see her follow the schedule. Which at the beginning of the year would have been hell. What triggers her days where she has meltdowns? Don't know.  The day I saw her she was in a good mood and they have learned to just let her be to avoid melt downs. 

A few months ago she would have flipped if there was another kid near the tunnel much less 3 of them smooshing themselves into the tunnel with her. This day she was ok. She just waited them out til she could have the tunnel to herself. 

At snack time they sang Happy Birthday to her and gave her her certificate and I was able to catch a great smile from her.
I don't know if you can tell but she doesn't sit at a table with other kids. :( She sits in her Fisher Price space saver chair in the corner with her pretzels and sippy cup. She has her lovie with her at every class. The fact that she doesn't sit with other kids has always depressed me but I know for her she's ok with that. She likes her space and doesn't have to deal with the mindless chatter *snort* of the other little kids. 

I have to give kudos to her two teachers because they didn't sign up for a kid with Autism this year. It's been a work in progress and they have been more than willing to work with her. Now she's more of a handful because when she has meltdowns now her weight hinders them from helping her fully. I kept her in the class when there was plenty of times we could have pulled her from the class but in my heart I knew this might be one of the last normal classes she participates in an awhile.  Hopefully one day she'll mainstream back. Can only pray she does.


  1. My husband too tells me all the time not to worry about school and that everything will work out. They won't. Not unless you are on top of things. I used to be a teacher. I know that school districts try to get away with the minimum unless the parents push it. What out of district school did you check out? You can e-mail it to me if you'd want.

    I'm glad Avery stayed in the class. For her sake and for all of the other kids in the class. Autism is becoming more prevalent and I think that the more kids are exposed to other kids who have differing abilities and talents, the better they will be as older kids, teens and adults. I like your goody bags.

    Avery has come so far! I know she is thrilled to have you as her mother. **HUGS**

  2. I too am curious which private placement you looked at. I looked at a bunch of them for Audrey's kindergarten placement and chose Chicago Education Project...although it is a haul for us (Schaumburg).

    I don't think that you're apologizing for her autism. It was a really nice gesture and hopefully it will bring more understanding.

  3. Amy & Lynn- I looked at the Chicago Autism Academy in Frankfort.

    Amy- Your situation blows to because of your residency requirement. :(

    Lynn does your school district bus her there? Interesting your daughter goes to a school in Schaumburg because Schaumburg is the only school district in the state that does Direct Floortime Therapy and that was what was recommended to us at the beginning for therapy. Nobody does it in our area or most have not heard of it. Even though my husband works in Hoffman Estates and we want to move up there umm the housing market kinda of blows right now on the selling end so it won't happen for awhile.