It's been a whole year since Whitney graduated from Early Intervention and began attending a nearby special needs preschool. She's been going for an hour and a half twice a week and loving it.
Last spring Melanie and I sat down with Whitney's various teachers and school district employed therapists for her first parent teacher conference. It actually wasn't a very uplifting meeting. Whitney was pretty overstimulated by the classroom environment, she wouldn't sign to her teachers and she basically got by on being cute instead of participating in classroom activities. At that point we actually set some more realistic goals for her and decided to see how things would work out in the fall with the new school year.
So I had a bit of apprehension as we went to our second parent teacher conference last week. But the news was totally different. The teachers and therapists reported that Whitney is responding better in class. She is playing with her peers during unstructured time. She uses all kinds of signs with her teachers. (Although she makes quite a few of them up so they still don't know what they all mean.) She's even beginning to participate in more of the structured classroom activities. She's walking around more at school in her walker too. S0 she met some of the goals we set last spring.
For a while I was skeptical of how much value Whitney was receiving by attending the preschool, but after seeing a checklist of things she's mastered or is improving in, I'm much more convinced.
But she has lots of things still to work on. She cannot get into a small classroom chair by herself, so we're going to work on that going forward. She also tires of activities before she's completed them. She likes to color or draw but only for a little while, so she needs help finishing up her artwork. The teachers and therapists were working to have her put shape puzzles together, but she got so frustrated with that activity that she would just push the puzzle pieces away from her. We'll have to revisit that goal sometime down the road.
The best thing we learned at the conference is that her teachers had gathered enough documentation about Whitney, that they can justify her attendance for a third day of school each week starting next month. This will give her more exposure to the classroom environment. Right now Whitney sees so many therapists in one on one time, that she's constantly getting pulled out of class. So on the third day she attends, she'll be in the classroom the entire time, which will really be a big help. She'll get to ride the bus one more day a week, which Whit absolutely loves. And Melanie isn't exactly complaining about having a little more time with just one child at home during the week.
So school is really looking up right now. And in combination with the therapy visits that we receive through our local children's hospital, Whitney is getting all kinds of great qualified therapy and support to grow and learn as best she can. Melanie are certainly grateful.