Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Preparing for "big kid" school

Once children with various disabilities and delays turn 3 years-old, they are kicked out of graduate from the governmental Early Childhood Intervention [ECI] program and enter the public school system.    Once in the public school system, Ellie will attend the preschool-preparedness for children with disabilities [PPCD] program.  As Ellie's third birthday rapidly approaches, we are starting our transition and this mama bear is having panic attacks and new white hairs sprouting up daily.  A few years ago, I never even knew there were all of these acronyms let alone what they stood for.  Truly, it is like learning a new language so please bear with me if I happen to get them slightly wrong.

Yesterday, Ellie and I met with the school system for a "screening". This screening was more of a formality as it is used to determine if Ellie has delays in communication, gross motor, fine motor, and/or cognition, etc to warrant a further assessment.  Having a diagnosis of Down syndrome, it is generally assumed that she will have some delays in the above categories and it is assumed that she will indeed enter PPCD.  However, screenings are required on everyone and thus, we headed off to the elementary school where I felt a pang.  A pang that my little baby is actually a little girl on the brink of entering school.  SCHOOL!  Her more comprehensive assessment will occur the last week of August to determine exactly what Ellie's needs are and to help formulate an Individualized Education Plan [IEP].

As with anything that involves Ellie Bellie Bear, the screening was rather interesting.  First off, she behaved better than usual (maybe she will behave beautifully in school???).  That does not mean she was well behaved by any stretch of the imagination. No, this little Bearity Bear did not spontaneous sprout angels wings and don a glowing halo, yet she seemed to follow more directions than usual and she sat for longer periods of time.  Perhaps it was the novelty of being in a large room overfilled with new toys?  I do not know if her showing off was a good thing or a bad thing.  You see, I want her IEP to really focus on areas that Ellie needs help with.  Attending to activities, actually sitting for more than 5 seconds, and not continuously running around and climbing like a possessed monkey are just a few areas that I would like to be addressed in her IEP.

Anyway, Ellie demonstrated her mad climbing skills as well as her propensity to mouth every single object in the room.  She blurted out "car" and "ball" as well as screamed "wee" while pummeling down a slide.  Little show off!  She fed the baby, rocked the baby, walked the baby, and then chewed on the baby.  She demonstrated her knowledge of the shape sorter all while eating a black crayon.  Yes, a black one this time.  I think it was because I told them to remove the red crayons.  I am not sure why Ellie has this propensity to eat the red crayons, but now it looks like I need to add black to the list.  When I say eat, I mean eat.   As in takes bites of the crayon, chews, swallows, and repeats until the crayon is completely devoured or is deftly removed without me losing any digits.  Do not even attempt to remove the crayon for her mouth.  Unless you do not value your fingers, then by all means, go fishing for the crayon.  One the bright side, at least the screening team was able to witness Ellie's excellent chewing abilities.  I think of it as a feeding assessment.

Ellie did run across the evaluation room multiple times, but she did sit for a bit and stack blocks, sort objects by colors, complete a puzzle, and work on Mr. Potato Head (all while mouthing each piece).  The speech pathologist asked me if Ellie was always this quiet.  Quiet as in silent while playing.  My answer, a sad "yes".  Yes, my daughter is quiet, unlike me.  She rarely makes a noise while playing and when she does, it is this adorable happy little humming noise.  It really is rather cute. Occasionally, she can be heard making a sound approximation for an object such as a car, a baby, or a cow.  While it saddens me that my little girl doesn't engage in babbling or jargon, I am relieved that the screening team was able to witness this and document it.

As I said earlier, I want my daughter to have a very comprehensive IEP which tackles many goals that are appropriate for and tailored towards Ellie.  On the same token, I do not want her teachers spending significant amounts of time on tasks that Ellie Bear has already mastered.  I want her communication and sensory behaviors addressed and I believe that in that brief one hour screening, the diagnostic team was able to get a good glimpse into the Ellie's development.  I am hopefully that the little stinker Bear will rock her assessment come late August.



  1. For me, at least, this is the hardest part. The "assessment" slash critique. Then there's the formal meeting where they translate that all into percentages & not chronological age brackets... I TRIED to frame it as them figuring out what to focus on -as appears you are too- but it's still not fun.

  2. Thanks for sharing this! It's good to know what's coming up in the next few years. Did you like the people doing the screening? Are they the people who will be seeing Ellie every day?

  3. Deborah, great questions! I do like the two woman who were involved in the screening. However, that is their job within the school district--to do the screenings and assessments. Therefore, they are not the ones who will be with Ellie every day. Our ECI therapist who has known Ellie since 3 weeks of age was present and I think that really helps.

    Krlr, I am not looking forward to the percentages. I know that they are just numbers, but still. . . sigh. I will report back in August!

  4. I am two years away from this and it is already causing anxiety attacks! I think I might cry when Ellie starts school...that might be a little weird, huh? I have to ask an odd question, I know crayons are non-toxic...do they give her a belly ache? Good luck writing an IEP that is the best for Ellie!!!

  5. My niece, Lauren just "graduated" last summer. She had to do the same assessments and I'm pretty sure my sister (her momma) was nervous and/or terrified of the whole process. I KNOW she was really worried about Lauren going to school. - Especially since it is a good 30 minute bus-ride away from their small town. Lauren did AMAZING -- and quickly became a favorite among her classmates and teachers. I just know that you will be telling the same story after Ellie's first year at school!

  6. oooo anna, been there! grey hairs do come in thick and fast, its a stressful time when our kiddies are so special. on the plus side grey hairs will take purple hair dye fabulously well! not so sure 'possessed monkey' is official jargon but i feel that it should be! xxxxx


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