As parents of children with special needs, we often find ourselves having to make difficult decisions. We want so badly to live up to the standard that "parents know their children, BEST". So we inhale, take a deep breath and dive into that intimidating ocean of knowledge, grasping at bits and pieces of information that we "THINK" and "HOPE" will be valuable information.
When Landon was three months old, I had to return to work. It wasn't easy going back when all I could think of was how much faster would Landon do things if I was home (working with him) all day long. And, would those who were caring for him know exactly what he needed. Ha, who was I fooling, like I knew myself, what his needs were. Yes, those first three months were filled with doubt and worry. After all, raising a child with special needs was suppose to be more work. But as time past by, I slowly began to realize that I was overanalyzing.........everything. You see, Landon, was my third and youngest son. It's not like I was new to motherhood. I should be a pro by now. Why would Landon be any different. And so that first big decision was made, Landon would go to the same preschool/daycare with his big brother, Elijah. And with a deep breath, I dropped Landon off for his first day of school, and off I went to work. (And.....I survived!!)
I often find myself playing devil's advocate with every decision Scott and I must make, "in the best interest of Landon". Always doubting and second guessing the choices we make. Some decisions come a little easier than others, while others cast the darkest shadow of doubt.
You see, last week, Scott and I received Landon's "transition papers". Yes, Landon received papers to transition from the "infant" room to the "toddler" room. I was a bit surprised, not that Landon would be transitioning to that room(because we knew he would), but so soon?? Scott and I had been talking lately about how people see and treat Landon like he is still this cute and cuddly infant, and although he is cute and cuddly, reality is - Landon is 13 months old. Peers his age have already transitioned. Landon is the only child in the infant room. Maybe I should have said something sooner, or maybe, I just wasn't ready. Landon has been "visiting" the toddler room for a couple of months now. He loves circle time and music. I have actually been informed that Landon is the page turner during story time and that he is the life of the party when the music is turned on. Yes, music to my..... "heart"!! I "KNOW" that Landon should transition, but, I also "KNOW" that he still has needs. You see, Landon can sit independently....but he cannot get into a sitting position on his own. And what about snack time.......Landon cannot walk over to the table, sit in a chair and feed himself. And communication?? Landon has a hand full of "signs" but is pretty much (with the exception of making sounds) non-verbal at this time. How will he communicate with his peers??
When I picked Landon up from school on Tuesday, I had about a 20 minute chat with his teacher. I voiced my concerns about Landon's transition. Surprisingly, I was met with the ultimate accomodation.........either the teacher or a classroom helper would be watching over Landon at all times. Someone to watch over him as he plays with his peers (in case he falls over), someone (to feed him) at the table that his peers eat and someone to continue using sign language (his current form of communication). This school has been so good to us and so accepting of our EI team. Landon's school will be working with our EI team, building workshops for their staff (if & when needed), to give them a better understanding and the knowledge of working/teaching children with special needs.
I must confess.......although I agreed that it was in Landon's best interest to transition, I still felt a bit hesitant. How will he communicate with the other children? Will he be overlooked by his peers? Will he get frustrated?
And then.........something like this happens!!!
As I entered the toddler room to get Landon, a group of 6/7 children (including Landon) were sitting quietly in a circle for story time. The teacher told me that the class had been practicing and they would like to show me something. She proceeded to ask the children if they wanted......"MORE....BOOK.....PLEASE". And without hesitation the children together......SIGNED.......more.book.please.! And the flood gates were open. I was overwhelmed and speechless. Yes, these children, were between the ages of 1 and 3 years old. And here they were, SOAKING UP, all of this knowledge.......like the little SPONGES that they are. Yes, they were learning and being exposed to sign language....not just because of Landon......but because these teachers truly believe in "INCLUSION". You see, they already knew my fears, and were taking steps to reassure me that this definitely is..........in.the.best.interest.of.Landon:)