Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Preschool Planning

Harlie has been in our county's Early Intervention program since she was just a few months old. This program helps give children with special developmental needs the services they need (like speech, physical and occupational therapies). But the program is from birth to age 3. Hard to believe, but Harlie will be 3 in September. Which means that we need to start planning what we're going to do with her after she ages out of the EIP.

The problem with Harlie is that she needs these services, and will continue to need them for some time. But, she doesn't fit in with the special needs preschool classes offered through the county. Because she's cognitively aware, we don't even think she'll qualify. Which is a good thing, I know. But, I don't really know that a regular preschool program will be a good fit for her, either. For one, most regular preschool programs have large classrooms. And while she'll have to adapt to that environment by kindergarten, I don't think it would be a wise decision to put her in one now. She's still catching up after all, and her language skills are certainly an issue. Although as long as she has her trach, her nurse could go with her. But still...

I clearly need to do some research and put some time and concentration into this decision. I haven't made up my mind about anything - heck, I'm still in the information gathering stage. And our services coordinator with the county said she is going to meet with me and Harlie's speech therapist to put together some goals and try to figure out what our options are and what is best for her. We're scheduled to meet at the end of May.

I will admit that I'm feeling a little bit overwhelmed with this whole ordeal. Now that she's getting older, I think things are getting "harder" in a way. The decisions we make are vital to her progression and development and the system and finances all play a part (which doesn't help). Heck, if it were up to me and money was no issue, I would hire a speech therapist to work with her for an hour 5 days a week (right now she gets one hour per week)!

I think I saw something about home preschooling - where someone who's qualified (not me, of course) would come to our house for a certain number of hours per week. I don't know if that is an option for her, but I guess we'll find out soon.

It is comforting to know that when she gets to kindergarten, if she still can't speak, then the school will have to provide a sign language interpreter for her. Well, at least that's what I heard. I still have a lot of learning to do... and so does Harlie. I can't think too far ahead. Things could be totally different by then. I guess I should just stay focused on summer and fall. We certainly have enough things happening in that time frame to keep us busy!


Tracy said...

You know , we have the same problem. Maggie "graduated" from EI a few months ago. But now we are left with nothing for services as well as she doesn't have problems with her cognitive abilites. The one preschool I would of been willing to put Maggie in closed last year due to poor enrollement. It would of been the perfect place for her to go because the class size was so small. So I totally know what your going through.

Our only real option is to homeschool Maggie on my own. Which I do already with my three other daughters.

Robin said...

Not sure if you have this option there, but Faith is pretty much in the same boat as Harlie - no cognitive issues, hearing is pretty much normal with her implanted BAHAs now, but she can't vocalize enough yet to be understood and relies primarily on signing. So for her, we have been told she will qualify for the county pre-school which has one school with a Deaf Hard of Hearing program. They will have about 10 kids, maybe 6 with hearing loss to 4 mainstream children. We are also going to send her to our son's preschool for one day a week mostly because we love the school, but also as a guage to see when her verbal skills are good enough for others to understand her.
Good luck finding the right thing for Harlie!
Best wishes, Robin