I had a meeting with the school district this morning. My Jillian will turn three in just two weeks. (Just saying it makes me want to run scared as fast as I can in the opposite direction.) At three, she must be released from Early Intervention (EI) and be placed under the care of the special education department that is a part of my town's public school. I have a bit of a negative attitude about this transition..ok, I'll admit it...I have a big, bad attitude about this transition.
There are several reasons for this..
1. I have been a special education teacher in the public school for the past thirteen years of my life and quite frankly most of that time I felt like I was on a battleground. I was constantly fighting for the rights of my students when I felt they weren't being given what they needed or deserved. Most of the time, the battles were minor but frequently they were big. Many times it left me wounded and disappointed in a system that is supposed to be about doing right for kids. I don't mean to be mellow dramatic, but maybe I am. I just know from experience that this special education road can be bumpy and unpleasant. Having this much experience and knowing this much has tainted my "glasses" a bit and caused me to be sceptic where special education is concerned. I want better for my daughter. I want her to have the best..what she deserves..I worry that this might not be available to her because of the fact that she is going to be an IEP student. Personally, I don't want her education to be a fight, but I am passionate about her and am willing to fight if I must.
2. My dealings with Early Intervention officials so far have been less than positive most of the time. I haven't always felt that they understood my girl. I haven't always felt that they took into account the unique circumstances of her life. They didn't always make me feel like they valued who she is and where she has come from. Those who shuffled her paperwork always seemed to be about doing the least amount of work, spending the least amount of time for her, and challenging most of what I thought was best for her. This isn't to say that we didn't have amazing therapists..we have had, but the higher powers that be in EI have made things a bit more disappointing. At times, it made me doubt my decisions and second guess what I held to be true about what is best for my baby girl.
3. I am most comfortable with what I know. Emily goes to a small private school and in my heart of hearts this is where I would send all my kids in a perfect world. Perfect for me though not the best choice for everyone I know.
Taking all of this history into account, I head off to this meeting a bit apprehensive and very nervous about how it will go. My girl looks scary in those exit reports written by her old therapists. It's not their faults because truly they have been amazing. My baby is just really, really low. I know that when another professional sees her on paper it is going to be hard to see past those low, low scores. So I worry. I pray. I go to the meeting ready for the worst.
AND GUESS WHAT?
I sat in a small room with four professional women around a table. My sweet daughter made it about 20 minutes of that time before leaving with her daddy. I signed papers (on the parent line) and talked with these ladies about my baby girl.
Then, I leave the meeting with the feeling that these professionals working in the public school truly care about my baby. BECAUSE..They spent time asking about who she is and affirming the fact that she has had a difficult start. They played with her. Pursued her. Reaffirmed me. They even teared up as I talked about all she has been through. The speech professional who attended even adopted and we were able to talk shop as far as international adoptions go. They mention to me that because of all that I am doing with her and the knowledge I have..it could be best to keep her home a while. The psych shared that working one on one with her and providing all the therapeutic activities that I do could be best for her versus being in school. I can give her my undivided attention and she is making huge gains she assures me! She asked questions about bonding and attaching (another concern I continually have about school and my sweet thing being away from me) and then I see in this kind woman's eyes that she really understands (and I completely agree with all that she said). They love all that we are doing to work on skills and love that I socialize her so much. They commend me for the way that we are raising our precious one and best of all...the psychologist says that sending her off to school may not be the best option now, but when it is they have several ideas of places she could attend. I can visit each one and make the decision about which one is best for her.
Then, I share this is 100% how I feel. She isn't ready to be in a school setting during the day yet. This is exactly how I think. This is the issue that has caused me grief for months and one that the EI powers that be made me doubt on a regular basis. I leave feeling like these professionals are for my baby girl not against her and that I am a huge part of deciding what is best for her..not paperwork or funding or the amount of time it will take to work out a plan. They are in this for her and will work with me to do what's best for her!!
Relief. That's what this momma is feeling. Also guilt. My bad attitude for the last few months about this event does not glorify God. Repentive. History is just that history. Time for another new beginning for my baby girl.
Three years old?
Ready or not here we come!
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