Monday, October 02, 2006

Educational Options

Boating with Grandpa at Lake Powell in September

Here in Utah, a partially state funded program called Early Intervention provides therapy and services for disabled children from diagnosis or birth to the age of three. At three years of age children begin special needs preschool provided by different organizations based on the child's disabilities. Although it's hard to believe, my little girl will turn three in January. So my wife and I recently met with representatives from the schools my daughter qualifies for. It was a very interesting meeting.

There were two schools that offer special needs preschool for my daughter's specific conditions. The first one was the Utah School for the Deaf and the Blind or USDB. They offer two hour classes that take place four times a week. They focus mostly on speech therapy, sign and other communication related skills. It seemed to me like eight hours of school each week is a lot for a three year old to handle. But I guess the earlier these skills are acquired the better. The scope of these classes also seemed a bit limited considering how many thing my daughter needs to work on.

The second option is a special needs preschool at an elementary near our home. It's provided by Jordan School District. It's only a couple of hours twice a week. And best of all the classes focus on a more rounded approach that I think will suit my little girl a lot better. They will work on physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech and signing skills where necessary. I'm a little torn because I would like to focus more on my daughter's ability to communicate, but not at the expense of her motor skills and walking. This school does seem like the way to go though. They pick the kids up, and bring them home afterward and it's only about 15 minutes from our house whereas the USDB facility is closer to 45.

Before making a final decision, though, my wife is taking our daughter to a classroom visit at each school. This afternoon they are at the elementary school meeting the teachers and seeing what class is like. I'm hoping it will be a good experience.

I know my daughter could use help with so many things and there's only so much my wife and I can teach. Being around other children and having skilled teachers will be a big help for her. I sure am grateful for the amazing amount of support we get from the programs here locally. I know my daughter has progressed farther faster due to their assistance. It still feels like I'm too old to have a child going to school. Oh well I guess I'll get over it.


bella said...

Its certainly an odd feeling, the first time one of your children is ready to start school!

Wow! What a predicament (sp?)!

On the one hand, I could see the need for 8 hours a week at the Deaf/Blind school, as the exposure she would have been getting at home in English will need to be made up for with Sign Language.

But, on the other hand, she's 3!

And, having the closer program, with the more 'rounded' program will be nice, as well! So nothing falls through the cracks!

Oh, I so don't envy you! (We will be in your shoes in about 6 months, when EK is 2 1/2 years old... )

I would love to hear your wife's (and LO's) observations from the different programs! (Always trying to keep my eyes open for whats available out there!)



Nate said...

You bet. I'll be happy to share what we've learned. It's going to be good to get some more help getting this little girl moving toward her goals. So far my wife reports things looked good at the elementary school where they hold the special needs preschool. There were about eight kids and three teachers. A few of the kids in the class don't have disabilities so they can peer model for the ones with special needs. My wife was impressed and my daughter even has a friend from a previous Kindermusik class.

theresa said...

hi nate - I accessed your link off of the 1p36 yahoo group - i'm very impressed by your technological capabilities! our daughter Petal is very close in age to your Whitney - she turned 3 on June 27th and started pre-school in september. we too have purchased all of the signing time dvd's and it's amazing how much petal's 1.5 year old brother has learned from them! Petal signs about 60 words but her speech therapist thinks we should focus on the speaking rather than the signing ... Petal has a sub-mucus cleft that we are hoping to fix during her tonsilectomy in November ... anyway just wanted to introduce myself ... theresa, mom to petal 39 mos (we're in california)

Nate said...

Hi Teresa!

Thanks for dropping by! It sounds like Petal is a very smart little girl. She knows quite a few signs. I hope her vocabulary turns into spoken tons of spoken words after her operation. Please let me know how everything goes.