Last night we met with Liz, our FRC from the Birth-to-Three program, and the school psychologist from the Kittitas School District. Evan will be three in July, and we have to plan ahead for his transition from early intervention into the school system. What this means is that the school system will be providing his therapies, instead of our insurance and then Head-Start as the payor of last resort. Jeremy and I had been a little bit apprehensive about this transition because we were under the impression that Kittitas really didn't have the resources we think Evan needs to be successful in pre-school, and eventually regular school. There is a developmental preschool in nearby Ellensburg we have been wanting Evan to attend, but because we are out of district (we are less than a mile away from the district line) a big battle was anticipated.
The school psychologist made us feel a lot better about the transition. To begin with, she said there was pretty much no way that the Kittitas district would contract (meaning pay) Ellensburg school district to take Evan into their developmental preschool. But then she told us about the speech and occupational therapists that come to the school. We are quickly coming to the conclusion that ASL is going to be Evan's primary mode of communication, and that it will be important for him to have an aide that can sign (in our small community, this may be difficult to find). If there is a plus side to Evan's frequent need for venting the g-tube, we are hoping it will be for him to have a one-on-one aide (again, finding one that knows ASL may be a tall order--but it wouldn't be any easier in Ellensburg either).
The school psychologist pointed out that preschool in Kittitas will be through the Head-Start program, and Evan will be with typically developing peers instead of just "developmental" kids. Jeremy and I already know that Evan is a watcher--he tends to try things he sees other kids do (for example, I am almost positive the climbing came from months of watching Gabe, the climber extrodinaire!).
The most difficult moment came when the psychologist commented about Evan would obviously qualifiy for an IEP (and if you are reading this, know I have absolutely no bad feelings about that comment...it's just that sometimes the truth really hits hard). It's good he will so easily qualify because he needs an IEP to get services. But Obviously...are his differences that, well, obvious?
To me, Evan has come so far in the past two years--in the past two months even. I have learned the best yard-stick for Evan is Evan. But in not comparing him to typical kids, it's easy to in a sense deny the reality of how very far behind he is. Sure he has made some big gains, but "normal" kids are making even bigger gains, so the gap between is getting larger and larger. Max's mom Amy posted a couple weeks ago about being "jealous" of the developmental strides of the kids with Down's in Max's play-group. I completely get what she is saying (although, to us Max is leaps and bounds ahead of where Evan is communication-wise. Check out the video on Max's site of him signing parts of the "itsy-bitsy spider" song--it's too cute and we are so proud of both Max and Amy!). I guess it is all about perspective.
The beginning of May is when we will start the transition process in earnest, and Evan will start pre-school next fall.