Prior to going back to work, Nate and I made an appointment with Will's teacher and school therapists to get an update on his progress. We've been giving each boy some time to adjust to their new programs and teachers before starting to look at their education goals and progress towards those goals. Although it has been just 8 weeks since they started school, we thought it was a good time to evaluate progress, considering they will be out of school for the entire month of July (year round school track out time!).
It has been easy for us to see and hear Luke's progress. Since starting his part day program, his language skills and comprehension have jumped through the roof. Part of this could be due to his own natural path of development, but we have to attribute a good part of it to his school and teacher as well. Luke has really come out of his shell and now that his language skills are improving, we also see the emergence of a true sense of humor and confidence in him. Although he still hasn't mastered the art of the telephone conversation, in-person interaction with Luke is a lot more two-sided these days. To us, he's showing some clear progress towards his education goals.
With Will, we felt like his progress wasn't quite as obvious. And although we know that Will has a lot of idiosyncrasies that make him difficult to figure out, we thought it best to set up time with his teacher and school therapists just to make sure that we were all on the same page.
Will's teacher explained to us that Will was having some difficulty adjusting to the classroom. He was crying a lot, and they had spent a lot of time over the past several weeks just working out the kinks of daily classroom life and routine. Mind you, she was not at all concerned about this and explained that a lot of children have an adjustment period.
Will is used to being carried around a lot, which gives him a lot of cuddle time with his carrier. He is also pretty accustomed to having his whines met with some type of action (food, position change, etc). Will's teachers are tasked with his educational goals (which include giving him tools to communicate his needs instead of whining), which means that he is expected to spend a good amount of time in his Kid Kart or stander and pay attention to what is going on in a group.
Will doesn't really like this so much. But ultimately, the adjustments that he is making now will make going back to school in August a lot more productive towards reaching his educational goals. It may seem kind of harsh, but it is the kind of a tough love that only a special needs teacher can give to a child with as much potential as Will has.
Another complicating factor here is that Will is three years old. He's got the desire to be the independent ruler of his kingdom that all kids this age have. So some of his difficulties with transition can also be attributed to being stubborn and wanting to be in control. Will is the youngest child in his class by more than a year - the other kids in the class are 4 and 5.
After our meeting, we had the opportunity to spend some time in Will's classroom. We watched him enjoy circle time with his peers, got to help his physical therapist with some PT, and just have a little fun with Will in his new environment.
All in all, the meeting was good. We got to give some tips for getting past some of Will's -isms, level-set on Will's goals, discuss some areas where we'd like to see them add some focus, and work out a more clear, more regular, less official communication process so that we can learn in more detail what Will is working on in his classroom so that we can be consistent at home.
It certainly takes a lot of focus, determination, honesty and love to keep up with the education plan and goals of a child with special needs. I can understand how a lot of parents might not have the ability to give the dedicated effort that it takes to actually ensure your child makes progress towards their educational goals. Fortunately for Will, he's got two able parents who will be here to push him every step of the way! Now, he might not appreciate that NOW... but hopefully someday!