And I’m going to pepper this post with photos of my darling girls, to help break up my ramblings into more manageable bits.
So after five cancellations and reschedules due to illnesses on their part and lack of heat on ours, we finally had our conference with the preschool transition coordinator for our district on Tuesday.
The reschedules, though they could not have been helped, drove me crazy. I totally understood and was fine with it, but it was so hard to keep getting so prepared and so nervous and so jacked up and then have to wait another week.
So, by the time the day of the actual meeting rolled around and we had yet to receive a phone call about rescheduling, I was relieved, nervous and terrified. Relieved because it was finally going to happen, nervous because of the possible impact the results of this meeting could have on my daughter’s future, and terrified because I had neglected to fully prepare this time around due to my skepticism that the meeting would ever actually take place.
I had work that had to be done, a house that had to be cleaned, a baby that had to be bathed, questions that had to be prepared and reviewed and a whole list of minor incidentals that should be addressed before these people arrived. I ran around at 90mph the whole morning, didn’t get a shower until almost noon, and was doing laps around the house trying to find a pen at 1:59.
And the ladies arrived. All three of them. Three? Our EI (Early Interventionist), whom I love, the preschool transition coordinator and her boss, who I had not known would be present until the moment she stepped up onto my porch.
You want to know why the boss came? Because I had intimidated the coordinator with all of my questions, and she had to call for reinforcements. See, I had emailed my questions to our EI, and she had emailed them to the coordinator so she could have a heads up and be more prepared. But apparently, all my list did was make her so nervous that she was visibly flustered as she settled onto our couch and kept losing her place when going over the plan for conducting the screening.
Here I was spending weeks trying to psych myself up for the possibility of having to deal with the big bad school district that would try to weasel their way out of meeting my child’s basic needs, and the woman was afraid of me.
So anyway, me, Kyla, Sadie, our EI, the coordinator and her boss sat down in the living room, and they proceeded to tell us all about the program. Sadie spent the entire time trying to get in as many hugs as possible before these people made her do anything, and both of the new-comers were ready to steal her within minutes. It’s hard not to love her.
I’m sure that the Williams Syndrome has something to do with that, but I like to think that’s she’s just extremely sweet and loving anyway. Whatever the cause, she definitely has a way with making people fall in love with her within minutes of her first “Hi…how you?!”
They tried to answer as many of my questions as possible (which you will see listed at the end of this post), and they made a very good effort to address any and all issues that we brought up. They asked questions about Sadie’s personality, quirks and, as I call them, tips-n-tricks. These are the things that you have to know in order to get anything done with her. For example, if there is a pen with a top, a zip-lock bag, or any other kind of container around, you better be trying to observe what she does with that container…because if you don’t hide it, she will not rest until that pen top has been applied and removed at least eight thousand times, or that bag has been emptied and filled just as many. And that she will be as sweet as sugar to you when she wants to get out of doing something, slyly changing the subject by professing her love for you and giving you a hug while you repeat, for the third time, the request that she please bring you the doll from under the table.
Everything was going quite well, in my mind, through the entire first part of the meeting. I felt that we got some great information for them about Sadie, and they gave us some great information about the program and what we could expect. Plus, Sadie was being exceptionally adorable, well-behaved and quiet, which is more than I had expected or hoped for.
Then we moved on to the evaluation. From the start, I could see that they weren’t going to get an accurate representation of her skills.
She actually got SHY.
This child has been shy maybe four times in her entire life.
But there she sat, smiling sweetly every so often and hesitantly pointing at a picture in the book.
And then she decided to be silly, holding up the green bear to the orange circle and saying “goes here?” with a little sideways glance and crooked smile.
I guess it’s better to get an evaluation that is a bit of a fluke on the lower end than on the higher end, but I would be lying if I didn’t say it was a little frustrating to watch. I wasn’t frustrated with her, but there is a selfish part of me that was hoping she would show off a little more. I mean, she has made such great progress over the past few months, and I’m so proud of her, and I wanted them to see how smart she is and how hard she has worked.
Here is the breakdown of the evaluation and how she did:
* Gave her first name and age, did not give her last name (accurate)
* Identified her fingers and toes, but not her teeth, thumbs, neck or stomach (not accurate…she knows everything but her thumbs)
* Knew the use of a pencil, but not a stove or coat (not accurate…she knows all of these)
* Repeated three syllable sentence, but not four or five syllable (kind of accurate…we have heard her say many more syllable sentences, but she doesn’t do it consistently with good pronounciation)
* Understood concept of big and little, but not one or more than one (mostly accurate, though she does still have problem with big and little occasionally)
* Matched colors yellow and orange, but not red, blue or green (not accurate…she can’t identify colors, but she can match the hell out of them visually)
* Named pictures of a tree, bird, cup, pencil, and sock (accurate)
* Used an “s” to indicate plural and an “ing” verb (accurate…and we’re SO proud of this accomplishment)
Physical Health and Development:
* Walks on tip-toes three steps, walks forward heal-to-toe three steps, does not stand on one foot for one second (accurate)
* Holds crayon with fingers with hand not fisted, uses one hand consistently, does not draw a somewhat recognizable picture (mostly accurate…we see her switch hands a lot, but she used mostly her left hand throughout the evaluation)
* Does not build a tower with blocks (not accurate…she can, but she just doesn’t care a thing about blocks…we’ve seen her build a tower with up to 5 blocks of a medium size)
So, her total score was 55/100. Based on what we have seen her do consistently, looking at it as objectively as a parent possibly can, I think she should have made a 71/100, or maybe even an 82/100. And I am basing these projections on the point values listed for each item she got and each item she did not get, as noted on the copy they gave me of the evaluation. I’m not just making these numbers up, people.
While writing this, I almost wrote “for each item she got right and wrong” instead of “each item she got and did not get”….am I already becoming one of those competitive, you-have-to-get-straight-A’s-or-you’re-grounded parents? And she is only three? We’ve got a long road ahead of us, ya’ll.
Anyway, so side note…on knowing the use of a stove, there is no way that she would have gotten that one with the way they asked the question. They pointed to the stove and said “What does Mommy do with this? What is Mommy doing when she uses this?” How is she supposed to know that?! The only thing I do at the stove is lean over it to reach the bread when I’m making a sandwich, or lay the plate on top of it while I’m opening the microwave door. I told them, after that question, that any issue relating to a domestic endeavor should be worded using “Daddy” as the noun, if they wanted her to have a snowball’s chance in hell at getting it right.
So, her score of 55/100 indicates the she needs to go in for the full evaluation to determine if she qualifies for the developmental delay preschool. Our appointment is set for April to take her in to see a teacher, the psychologist, the speech therapist and the coordinator for the official evaluation.
I feel a lot better about the entire situation after meeting with the coordinator and her boss. They were both lovely people, and seemed like they genuinely care about the success of all of the children in their program. They were not at all how I feared they would be, and exactly how I hoped they would be. I feel like if we did decide to have our child in this program, we would, at the very least, know that there are people in the administrative side who truly want to help us help her to succeed.
Alright ya’ll, see below for the answers to my list of questions that gave this woman the first impression that I was going to be a total A-hole to deal with (my words, not hers).
Oh, and for the record, they gave us much more info than this, but I’ll have to put it down another time, since my brain is just about full at the moment.
• When will we know if she qualifies for the developmental delay preschool program?
A: Will know after the meeting if she qualifies for further evaluation, and will know after the full evaluation if she qualifies for real
• If she qualifies, what is the next step?
A: Discussions of whether or not we want to place her in the program, decision to be made before her third birthday
• Will you (coordinator) be our contact person throughout the year, to whom we will address our questions and concerns? If so, will that go into the subsequent years of Pre-K and grade school? If not, when does your job end?
A: Coordinator will be contact only through developmental delay three-year-old preK…program has separate administration than rest of school and preK.
• What personal assistance will she receive and from whom? (not answered at this time)
• How do we set up an appointment to visit the school and sit in on the class? (not answered at this time)
• How is discipline handled in DD PreK? For example, what are the policies on class disruption?
A: Decided per child’s needs…our daughter would likely not get strong word discipline because of her sensitivity to emotion, but verbal reprimand and time-outs are most common forms of discipline
• How do they handle children who are not potty-trained? Who are in the process of training? Who are potty-trained?
A: Ask that parents put children in pull-ups so that they can get used to the process of pulling their pants up and down to go potty while in school. Potty time routines are established for all children. Pull ups changed as needed in between potty times.
• What are the goals for the class as a whole? (not answered at this time)
• Are there ever children of other ages in the same class?
A: No…only three-year-olds as of the standard school year cut-off.
• Does the class include both high functioning and low functioning children? What accommodations are made for each?
A: Yes including both, no answer on the rest at this time.
• Are there any particular teaching methods used in the program (so I can research those methods)?
A: Yes…info passed on to us on particular methods…but haven’t had tie to go over yet.
• How are the attention issues dealt with? Is there assistance to keep children on task?
A: One to two adult aides are present in each class, in addition to the teacher, to help the children stay on task.
School Choice: (not answered at this time)
• If we find this school unacceptable, how do we arrange an appointment to visit the alternative school options?
• Who do we speak to about getting her transferred, if that is our decision? When is the deadline for applying for a transfer?
• What are our options if we feel that none of these schools are acceptable, if we wanted to keep her in a public school setting?
• What services will be available to her from the district if we chose a private preschool?
• Will the district still do an IEP for her if she goes to private preschool? Will they still track her progress on her goals? What will they do to ensure those goals are met?
• If she starts at one school, and we are unhappy with the program, can she be transferred mid-year? Can she be transferred at the end of the year? Can we take her out and put her in a private preschool? Can we take her out altogether?
• Will her placement in DD PreK affect her chances of getting into mainstream classes in grade school?
A: No…the goal for all children in this DD3yopreK is to get them all into mainstream 4yoPreK if possible.
• If it is determined that the DD PreK is not beneficial to her, is there a regular 3yo PreK class she could be moved to? Could she be taken out and entered into a 4yo PreK next year?
A: There is no regular 3yoPreK class, and the goal is to get her into the regular 4yoPreK class anyway.decisions on removing her from school are left to the parents at this age.
• Could we skip the 3yo DD PreK program and start her in mainstream 4yo PreK a year late? Would she need to qualify to be entered into regular classes?
A: Decisions on removing her and waiting a year are left to the parents…no answer on the qualifying for regular in 4yoPreK.
IEP: (not answered at this time)
• Who would be present at the IEP meeting? Who can be present?
• Are advocates available through the school district to assist parents on the IEP? If that is your (coordinator) function, to what extent?
• Are the following services available, in case it is determined that she needs any of these: individual speech therapy, group speech therapy, indiv./group occupational therapy, indiv./group physical therapy, indiv./group music/art therapy, shadow, aid
I hope this will help other families going through the same process, so if anyone has any questions, please feel free to leave a question in the comments section or email me directly (email listed on About page).
*I use pen names and nicknames to maintain our privacy…my apologies for any confusion that may result as a consequence of this practice.