We had an unfortunate, but not unsurprising, experience with a day-care that offers a summer preschool program. This is a private place that has centers throughout Texas. It is not affiliated with the public school system. Andrew and I both believe that it is important for Ellie to have a summer program that offers social and cognitive stimulation and an opportunity to play with typical peers in addition to those with special needs. This is why we wanted to go the private school route rather than the ESY at the public school.
To suffice to say, we do not always get what we want. Sometimes we have to fight. And fight and fight. I am saddened because it isn't even so much about the preschool--the preschool who will only allow her to attend if I provide her with a 1:1 aide. It is the fact that this is the beginning. I am sorry to sound so negative, but this is indeed the beginning of the fighting. The fighting that Andrew and I will be doing on behalf of Ellie for the rest of her life. I am already tired of fighting. Fighting for health care services. Fighting for education. Fighting for social acceptance. I am tired. I am exhausted. Yet, fight I will because if I do not fight for Ellie, who else will? If I do not fight, how will things ever change?
It is a long story (most of it is in the letter below), but Ellie will not be going to our selected place this summer. The place we decided to go with came highly recommended--well their other location came highly recommended by several families within our Ds community (I should have gone to the other location!). I believe that our specific location does not have an open-minded director and as such made inappropriate recommendations to the corporate office who makes the final decision. I went up the ladder and argued. I got them to review her case, but we will still not send her there no matter what their final decision may be. Unable to let it go, I finally crafted a letter to the corporate office. I have not sent said letter because my anger is not allowing me to compose my complaint and experience in an appropriate matter--it is more of a rant. That being said, I am posting it here. . . spelling errors, grammar errors, and repetitiveness. It is long so just look at the 3 reasons Ellie supposedly needs an aide. Please also take into account that while I have often discussed Ellie's difficult behaviors related to ADHD, she has been doing remarkably better in the past two months since she started taking a new medication. When I say that she was behaving like a typical child, I am not exaggerating.
Dear Corporate Office of X,
1)On the parent intake form, I disclosed that the areas where she needs help is with opening yogurt containers (a moot point since you do not allow outside food) and that she requires a pull-up, but rarely pees in the morning. I was told that this was a HUGE deal as you do not have the support staff for this. While I do understand that the teacher cannot leave the children unattended, it is illegal as per the ADA to refuse a child on the basis of not being toilet trained if the facility has diaper changing areas anywhere within the building. Seeing as X accepts children as young as 6 weeks of age, it is safe to assume that some of your clients are in diapers? An easy accommodation that has been performed at other care facilities is to change the child’s diaper on a mat within the class room. This does not require a 1:1 aide, but a mat. A cheap mat which I would have been happy to provide. Additionally, as I explained in great detail to J during Ellie’s observation, my daughter does not urinate in the morning. In fact, she wears underwear to school. She usually does not go until 2pm. She would have only been at X until noon. This means that my daughter would not even urinate at X and as such would not require a diaper change or assistance with the restroom. Not to mention, can you honestly tell me that all 3-4 yo never have accidents? Never need help pulling their pants up/down or being wiped?
After circle time was center play. Ellie sat at a table with two little girls and played with the kitchen food. I was thrilled to see her experience this as right now she is in school with predominantly boys who do not socialize. As she moved to another table, she tried to play with another girl who angrily refused to share. To me, that was age appropriate behavior and preschool provides the perfect opportunity to teach sharing toys. Does that girl who refused to share need an aide? I think not. The big test was clean up. The teacher says in the back of the room to clean up. Apparently, at X it is expected that all 16 children immediately comply on the first time every single time or they need an aide. You see, I am not even sure my daughter heard the teacher as she was at the front of the noisy classroom engrossed in playing. I told her it was time to clean up. She tried to comply but needed a little help knowing where things go—please understand that she has never been to this classroom before. She needed ONE reminder to clean up and another direction to tell her where the play mop went. I heard the teacher tell two boys in the back to clean up a second time and they do not have aides. Why is my daughter labeled as “trouble with transitions” when two veteran 3-4 yo needed reminders? Do they need aides too? These behaviors for which my daughter was inappropriately dinged for are typical behaviors of typical 3-4 yo. My daughter is being punished for acting like a typical child? It was her FIRST day in the class—an unfamiliar classroom willed with new toys, strange children, and an unfamiliar teacher! She had no knowledge of the rules or routine.
At this point, I am tabling the private summer preschool. Prior to Ellie's observation with X, I had been in contact with several other places. Money, location, available slots, as well as attitude towards having a child with Ds in their program contributed to our selection of X (and a few others that I did not mention here). I am so worn out from this experience with X that need a break. Fortunately, Ellie did not know that she was on "audition" and rejected. I worry about the day when she is old enough to understand. . .