Friday, January 29, 2010

Preschool Visit

Today we went and visited Harlie's new preschool class. I had to register her at the school anyway, so her teacher said we could bring her in and let her see it and meet some of the kids. Her class is a PEDD (preschool education for the developmentally delayed) class in an elementary school. It is really weird to think of my three year old being in an elementary school. And getting on a bus! I'm actually kind of glad that I'll have to take her and pick her up for a couple of weeks. That will allow me to adjust in stages. Same with her I suppose. But I'm betting it will be an easier adjustment on her then me!

So, we met the school nurse and some of the staff in the office. They were all really nice and welcoming. They already had her paperwork, so that makes me feel like everyone was on the ball. Harlie walked right in the classroom and made herself comfy.

The weird thing is that while we were in the office (and had not seen the classroom yet) Harlie kept on signing "slide." Totally random. She knows what a slide is and, of course, uses the sign appropriately. Like on a playground, or in our backyard. So, Brandy and I looked at each other like "what?" We couldn't see the playground on our way into the office, either. So, it wasn't that she saw it first. So her teacher comes into the office and sees her signing slide and says that they have one in the classroom! Weird!

So, anyway, she played with the other kids well. There were only two of them today. Both boys. One little boy who is younger than her was very interested in how she looked. He got as close as she would let him, and he cocked his head to the side and was really studying her trach. She didn't seem bothered at all. After a few minutes that little boy wanted to touch her. He touched her hair and she "nicely" brushed him away.

But the one thing that was really interesting to me was that every time he touched her, she took her right hand and put it on her HME (heat and moisture exchanger - the filter that goes over her trach). I have NEVER seen her do this. And she did it every single time he touched her arm, back, hair, whatever. And she really didn't seem to be annoyed. In fact, it was almost as if she was being understanding. But I am totally fascinated that she is so aware of her trach and that she was clearly protecting it - or her airway, however she sees it. I guess until she gets more comfortable or trusting of him, she will be a little more protective of herself. Which is great. The last thing we want is for some other kid to grab at her trach and pull it out! But so freaky that she has that sense! I don't think any kids have ever touched her trach in any way. So, it's not like she's pulling from experience. I'm just fascinated!

They had circle time while she was there. And she actually participated! The teacher put on some songs that had hand motions (like the Itsy Bitsy Spider) and she did a lot of the signs/motions. And the best thing was that she was totally smiling! It was so darn cute! I'm sure that a lot of that has to do with the fact that she's wearing her hearing aid (all day I might add).

There is a large white board in the class. And near the bottom - more in their view (the kids I mean) - she has laminated pictures. They are sketches of activities - like washing hands, a playground, food, a potty, etc. And she puts them in order - so the kids can see a schedule of events. So, after circle time, they wash their hands, then they go and eat lunch. They boys followed the routine with no problem. Harlie's therapists (several of them) have tried this with her in the past. So far, it hasn't really worked. But, I'm anxious for her to learn what the schedule is, what it means, and be comforted by a routine. Because I do believe that most kids are comforted by knowing what's going to happen next. And Lord knows she hasn't had a lot of that in her little life.

So when it was time for us to leave, Harlie wouldn't budge. She didn't want any part of it. So, that's a good sign. I'm excited for her. I'm excited for us as a family to see what she can do and how that changes her behavior.

However, it's still going to be hard for me to see her go to school every day. I know she's already gone to preschool, but that was different. Murphy went there. And my friend owns/runs it. So, I knew she was there and it was a comfortable place for me. But this is elementary school! And she's three! And she's going to get on a bus! I know I'll quickly get used to it. But let's face it - she's pretty much been in our care, or Brandy and Jennifer's care her whole life. And a complete stranger will be driving her to/from school. A stranger! But it will be fine. I know it will. Things change and we all have to change with it. And she's probably going to so dig riding in a bus.

Oh! Another good thing is that they actually get out of school 15 minutes before the rest of the school. That way they are not getting run over in the hallway by the bigger kids. So, that's good.

Well, that was our excitement for the day. Oh, and this snow storm headed our way. No flakes yet, though. But we're all pretty excited to see how things look tomorrow morning!

More later!


Sue Mitchell said...

Your little girl is growing up! I'm not surprised at all that she "made herself comfortable" and didn't want to leave. I really look forward to reading more about her school days - how exciting!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I happened upon your blog a few months ago. . .and have been reading about your AMAZING girl. And I have to tell you, that you are amazing yourself. You are a great mom. I am a primary school teacher, and I just think that she is smartsmartsmart. . .and that you have an amazing road of journey ahead of you. Take good care :)

Janis said...

Sounds like an awesome classroom. Can't wait to see how she does on a daily basis!!

Susan said...

I'm glad she likes it, that helps. But yes, it is weird. I had all those same thoughts and feelings when Ainsley started school in October because like Harlie's school, Ainsley's is in an elementary school and she goes off on a bus with the nurses 4 days a week before the other kids are even awake. It is different than your average preschool experience and it isn't what I would choose for an average 3 year old child. But A isn't average and she needs this, which seems strange that I think it would be too much for a typical 3 year old, but great for A. Weird but true, I believe. Maybe the same is true in Harlie's case? It didn't take me long to adjust, and I hope the same is true for you.