The Hailey Herald

The Hailey Herald

Monday, January 27, 2014

Preschool or Bust

Wow.  Transitioning Hailey into preschool is definitely not a walk in the park or for the faint of heart.  We have now had 4 meetings and have one more before our process is complete.  The first meeting is an introduction to the process and necessary people.  It was our formal request to have Hailey evaluated for preschool.  The state of Ohio does not automatically qualify children with Down syndrome for services (speech, occupational and physical therapies).  A child has to be evaluated in speech, fine motor and gross motor skills.  They must show that they are delayed by two standard deviations from mean (the average of typical children).  Hailey rocked her occupational and speech therapy evaluations the first day.  She brought her A game...which can be good and bad.  As a mother, I was very proud of Hailey.  She showed off, so to speak, and showed what she can truly do.  Hailey had to return later that week for her gross motor eval and a phonetic eval with speech.  Hailey did not cooperate with the second speech evaluation.  When I say she did not cooperate, that would be putting it nicely.  The girl refused to speak!  Needless to say, a speech evaluation on a child that refuses to speak does not yield a good score.  My brain was saying, "Thank you, Hailey.  Now, I'm positive you will qualify."  My heart was screaming, "What in the world are you doing?!?!?  I wanted to put her little bottom in timeout for not trying and being so defiant". 

A month later, I returned to go over the evaluation and find out if she had qualified for services.  If so, she can attend on her birthday or a date anytime after she turns 3.  If not, she would wait until fall for preschool with no services.  Fortunately, they emailed me a draft of the evaluation results.  I didn't agree with all of the evaluations.  However, since Ohio doesn't take Down syndrome as an automatic qualifier, I had to keep my mouth shut and not argue.  If I argued and any of it was evaluated differently, she might not qualify.  It is a difficult situation to be in.  It's a shame that the state can't say, "Wow, this child is doing well.  Let's see how much potential he/she has by giving him/her services to capitalize on that."  Instead they say, "You are doing too well.  Come back when you are more delayed and then we will try to help you catch up."  Backwards thought process if you ask me.  Luckily, I was able to call her EI therapist and vent out my frustrations.  I was able to keep my mouth quiet and didn't argue any of the evaluations.

So, in the end, Hailey has qualified for services for preschool.  I've always complained that the standardized tests do not consider sign language as a communication component.  They only count "speech".  In this case, it worked in our favor.  Counting her sign language would have definitely disqualified her.  In the evaluation report, each therapist wrote out what Hailey should work on and what they intend to focus on.  These recommendations will transfer directly onto her IEP (Individualized Education Program).  It will become her goals for the next calendar year.  However, I can have them changed or modified at anytime.  We have her IEP meeting next week and we will all agree on what her goals for the next 12 months will be.   There should be zero "surprises" when her IEP is presented to me on Friday.  It will give us measurable goals.

I'm going to admit, these meetings are emotional for me.  As I've admitted before, I cry easy.  I cry when I'm happy, I cry when I'm sad, I cry when I'm mad, and I cry when I'm passionate about something.  I cry during the national anthem.  I cry during Pamper and Hallmark commercials during the holidays.  I cry watching athletes during the Olympic games knowing the dedication these men and women put forth and the obstacles they had to overcome just to make it to the games.  Yes, my tear ducts are in very good working order :-)  So needless to say, I did cry during this appointment with preschool.  After we established that Hailey did qualify for preschool.  I asked if I could be frank and ask a question about the staff and expectations.  I wanted to make sure that the end goal for Hailey would be to push her academically as well as her therapy goals.  I wanted to make sure that Down syndrome wouldn't be an excuse.  I wanted to make sure that even if Hailey doesn't learn everything the other children learn, I wanted it to be an end goal that she will learn to say, read and write all her letters.  The preschool director interjected with, "Don't short change her.  That will be her end goal...don't automatically think she won't reach it".  I wanted to hug her.  No, I'm not living in a fairy tale world with unicorns and rainbows.  I know it is harder for Hailey to learn me...I've lived with her for the past 3 years.  I know how much effort everything takes.  But I also know that if she isn't pushed and expected to do things, she never will.  Yes, I'm setting the bar high, but if I don't push her, who will?

Some people don't quite understand why Hailey starting preschool is such a big deal or why I'm so worried about it being a perfect fit.  Three years ago, when Hailey was born, preschool wasn't a thought.  I couldn't think past the next day or week.  I couldn't even let myself think that far ahead.  I wasn't convinced that she was going to make it through open heart surgery.  I couldn't let myself think three years down the road.  The boys, Jason and I have been Hailey's main teachers and her main inner circle for the last three years.  We are her bubble.  We protect her.  We know her.  Can you imagine sending your three year old to school where you don't even know if anyone will understand a word?   Can you imagine sending your baby to school where you aren't sure she will speak up and people will understand her wants or needs?  Like standing on the edge of a cliff.  Then I stop myself.  I look how far she has come.  I look at what she has accomplished so far.  I look at how hard she works until she gets things right.  I know she will do okay...this mom is just having some issues giving up control.  I am having a hard time accepting that I can't protect her from the world forever.

I have a very good feeling about this preschool.  It is the school district preschool.  I've not heard a single complaint from anyone who has had a child in this school....neither typical or atypical.  I believe it's a hidden gem in the area that not everyone realizes is there.  The classes are divided by age group.  Hailey will be in the young 3s to mid 3s class.  I've been told that communication will be as much or as little as I would like.  The teacher has experience with children with Ds.  The class is 50/50 (or close) typical/atypical.  They have asked that I put Hailey in pull-ups at school and they will take her as the class goes to possibly jump start our potty-training at home (that was the school's suggestion).  I can walk her into school as long as I want or use the drop off line and they will take her into school.  She won't be riding the bus...I'm sure that will disappoint her but maybe sometime in the future.   She will go four days a week.  Unfortunately, the only opening right now is afternoon.  That stinks more than anything in the world.  Hailey still naps and it will make the afternoon crazy with the other two boys getting off the bus, but oh well...we will figure it out. 

My baby starts preschool in 31 month from today.  Will Mom finally be ready?  I know Hailey will.  I'll be lucky if I get a wave good heart is breaking :-)

Hailey told me her baby needed an "iaper and wipes".  I turned around and this is what I saw.

Luckily she just pretended to use the diaper cream.

Ooops...that isn't right.

Now we need a wipe.

Cleaning her baby.

I don't think she'll be changing any real baby diapers for awhile...she just used the same wipe to wipe the baby's face!

And now the same wipe for her hands.
Time for the diaper

Love this girl to pieces!!!


  1. Girlfriend, I have been where you are. I identified with every paragraph. Cyber hugs!

  2. I'm always shocked to hear how the system works down there. I can't believe the hoops you all have to jump through to get your kids services. They should automatically qualify! Glad everything went good though and she will be getting what she needs when she starts preschool.

    Russell doesn't go to preschool, but "technically" he can start kindergarten this fall if I want him too. I am just unsure of what to do at this point. I keep putting of writing about it. I have a lot of emotions on the subject.

    Cute pictures of Hailey :)