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Friday, May 6, 2016

My Little Cricket’s Delay: Looking at Preschools and an Update

I feel like all I have done for the past year is ask questions take in a ton of information that is all new and confusing and emotional and then weigh the benefits and risks. I am really just flying by the seat of my pants here, trying to listen to the facts but also often just checking in with my gut.

I am exploring sending my Little Cricket to a public school through the school district, a private special school for Autistic children or a typical private school with a behavioral shadow. Since our IEP through the school district is coming up I decided to put preschools back on the front burner. I called the typical preschool I was hoping to start this January and asked if we could visit again. My Little Cricket has made so much progress with his therapies that I thought that he might be ready now for that environment. I took my Little Cricket and our floortime therapist, who has now been working with us closely for three months, to the school on April 26th. It was a mess. The teachers didn’t have great language with the kids in the class and didn’t seem connected to the students. Now that I have been around these amazing therapists I know better what to look for. There were also 15 kids in the class, and without the teachers really guiding the group well it was chaos. Although my Little Cricket did well and was even able to come away with the concept of the math lesson, it just isn’t the right space for him.

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I also spoke to the Help Group, Smart Start and Step by Step, the three top Autism Schools in our area and I didn’t like all three. My main issue is that they are all most of the day programs. Starting at 8am and ending at 2pm they also loop in the speech and OT within the school day. I am sure that this model works well for some parents. But dropping my kid off for 30 hours a week and not being there during his therapies as his main support feels so wrong to me and in my opinion wouldn’t allow me to keep in the loop of brining all these therapies into our home. Ideally I am looking for a 3 hour program 3 days a week in the afternoons but none of the schools I spoke to will allow me to modify their schedule so drastically.

I also toured several LAUSD special education offerings. I looked at 6 different programs in 3 different schools but didn’t like any of them. So then I looked at another round of schools and programs. In the end I looked at 9 different rooms and teachers. The PALS program that they school district is moving into puts all special education children into one room. This to me isn’t the least restrictive environment nor is it the best placement for my Little Cricket. Most of these rooms had children with very challenging needs and with teachers that I didn’t find to be steller. They also combine speech, OT and a long school day. Unfortunately this isn’t going to work for us either.

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I am going to continue looking into typical preschools and hope that I can find a small program in the afternoon a few times a week just so my Little Cricket can do his therapies in the morning and work on socializing with other children in the afternoon.

I also got a call from ECPHP this week saying that they will hopefully have a spot for my Little Cricket this summer. I am SO SUPER EXCITED to be getting into such an elite program so quickly and equally worried about switching out of my Little Crickets schedule that is helping him improve so rapidly. I continue to write my weekly letters to Mrs. A and sending her updates and I grapple with what to do.

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We also just recently had a speech prompt assessment. One of the issues with children on the spectrum is motor planning. Sometimes the motor planning gets in the way of learning how to speak. We got an assessment today and was told that right now Prompt isn’t the right path for my Little Cricket. His ability to sit and allow someone to put their hands on his mouth to form the right words is low. We will meet with her again in a few months to monitor if he would be a good candidate then.

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ABA isnt going well. We started a few weeks ago but although I really liked the pshychologists running the program I have yet to find a therapist that I kind of like. So far we have gone through 5 therapists. Although I found someone who is ok (who we are sticking with while I keep looking) I still haven’t found anyone that I love. I am beginning to think that I will have to drop this company and find someone else. I have been emailing back and forth with a woman who created her own company, that used to work at ECPHP, that runs the baby JASPER program at UCLA and that comes highly recommended by the head of the toddler JASPER program. I am hoping that she can find a therapist that might work well with us.

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