January 8, 2008 by Marj Hatzell
Forget normal life, I’ve got extras to think about this week.
Next week is Bugaboo’s transition meeting. A transition meeting is held when a child is a few months away from transferring from one program to another. Since Bugaboo is about to transfer from Early Intervention Preschool to the School District Level, a meeting will be held to discuss our options for next year and to give them permission to evaluate him. That is, if we decide to move him on. We can hold him back a year to give him more time to mature but we haven’t completely made up our minds.
Needless to say, this has consumed my every thought. I know I am allowing it to take over my life at the moment and I’m giving the whole situation a life of its own. I have to visit schools, ask pertinent questions, take notes, review notes, compare programs (thanks to a handy excel spreadsheet and chart) and figure out how Bugaboo’s goals are going to be met in each situation. And then? I have to
hope pray that he gets in. See, there is NO GUARANTEE he will get into any of the schools I am visiting as they are mostly approved private schools. That means that they can accept him IF they feel he will be a good fit to their program and then the state and school district are responsible for his tuition and transportation. There are two placements that he is guaranteed placement but neither of those programs are remotely interesting to me, as they seem to be the “catch all” or last resort for the kids. I want a structured program with a small class size, a 2:1 (at least) ratio and all related services. I also don’t want him riding the bus for two hours each way every day, since he is five and they’d have to pick him up before we even get out of bed in the morning.
This is such a difficult decision! I almost feel as if we’ve been visiting colleges and deciding on majors, except that this decision could make or break Bugaboo. The right program for him could mean the difference between him learning to communicate and hitting a plateau. It could mean the difference between him growing academically or losing what he has. His little brain is that fragile, folks. He loses things SO QUICKLY and then other times we are astounded at what he remembers and what he learns to do. Last night I had yet another conversation with Darling to discuss our options and asked him flat out, “What do YOU want for Bugaboo? What would YOU want if you could have anything for him?”
His answer? “I want to hear his voice. I want him to talk.”
Ouch. Talk about knife in my heart, y’all. Talk about a lump in my throat. Even my quiet, introspective, practical, thoughtful, grounded husband is in pain. He never shows it. NEVER. But now I see how much it hurts him. Sometimes we can forget about it (like last night when Bugaboo was sleepy and we were trying to keep him up a teensy bit longer and he was all cuddly and smiley and cute and kissy) but it is always there. And now I feel like we are playing with his life by having to make this decision.
What are we going to do? Well, for starters I’m going to the transition meeting next week and I am going to tell them if he does not get into ONE PARTICULAR program that he is going to repeat preschool and we will wait for a placement (meaning, if it is mid-year, so be it). I am also going to request to see the school district program and Autistic Support class, even though I think Bugaboo won’t do well there (not enough structure or services). Then? I’m going to ask them to look into one more private school that is not approved, but I can get the school district to pay for if they agree that it is in Bugaboo’s best interest. It is a fairly new program, started by one of Bugaboo’s previous teachers, and it has a 1:1 ratio (!!!) and is close to home. And the educational philosophy matches mine (He WILL learn to communicate, it is just a matter of WHEN!).
Let’s just say we could use some prayers, y’all.
ETA: I forgot to add that one school (that I visit next week) “prefers” their clients to have “some expressive speech and be potty trained and also be academically on track.” Um, Y’all? If Bugaboo could speak, was potty trained and was on grade level he’d be going to A TYPICAL SCHOOL. Is it just me?