Friday, November 20, 2009
Don't Worry, Be Happy: a Mantra for IEPs, Kindergarten Transition, and IQ Testing
I've been doing a lot of reading, thinking, and talking to others about Sean's big transition to Kindergarten next year. I mean, jeez, it is only nine months away. :/
I'm trying to get myself in a head space where I'm not stressed about it any more than I was when Aidan started grade school, but it is hard. There's so much information out there about getting your child in the best environment for these early learning years. We all want our kids in the least restrictive environment so that they can learn along side their peers. We are all afraid of our kids being shut away in a room without windows, stimulation or teachers eager to help our child achieve at the best of his or her ability. We worry about abuse and neglect of our our sweet kids that can't defend themselves or verbalize the accounts of the day. So many of those fears seem valid and important to look out for.
This past week, the big news in the Down syndrome world was a report on possibly reversing the cognitive affects of Down syndrome. Research with lab mice have shown that the therapy plan may help our children with Ds if started at a very early age. Interesting possibility. Obviously one that needs a great deal of research regarding long term outcomes before it is applied in humans. I'm happy to hear that there is research that focuses on improving the LIFE of a person with Ds, rather than focusing on eliminating the existence of Ds. Should it prove to be effective and safe for humans, I think I'd be willing to try it. It doesn't change the make up of the person, it just helps boost the brain's ability to learn and retain information. However, I don't see that it has said if it would work on older children or if there's a window where it is only useful. Definitely research worth following.
So that leads me to this.... what do I want Sean to achieve in kindergarten? I guess I want him to have the best opportunity to learn that he can. I want him to speak clearly in full sentences that others understand as well as family. I want him to read and write. I want him to carrying on conversations that are not just repeating statements or yes/no answers. I want him to understand basic math skills. I want him to learn to button his shirts, zip his coat and tie his shoes. I want him to eat what his peers eat, and eat it willingly and independently. I want him to play with other children and be welcomed in their activities.
Do I think all of those goals are attainable? Yes. I do. I don't know if Sean will achieve all of those goals by the end of kindergarten. Some I expect will be more challenging and take longer. I don't know if this means he's in the "regular" classroom 100% or 80% or 50% of the day. I see no benefit to him being in a classroom if the pace is too fast for him and he isn't adequately supported to adapt to the activities. I don't want his time wasted at school because he is overwhelmed and shuts down. I'm willing to keep an open mind about where he is as long as he is learning where he is at.
Yesterday, Doug, Ella and I went to Aidan's Thanksgiving Feast. This is the school we intend on Sean going to. As I was clearing my tray and leaving the cafeteria, I saw the resource room kids clearing their trays and lining up for recess. I admit to staring at the three kids with Down syndrome. Watching as they independently sorted their trash and trays. They looked happy, the boys were laughing and tickling each other in line. The little girl was intent on scrapping her food into the can. But where were their parents? None of the kids in the class had parents that came to eat with them. Why? The school sent notes to us, so we knew when to go. Of the other classes, it looked like about 40% had parents or grandparents eating with them. Yet none of the kids in the resource class had a parent there.
Panic. Maybe the Special Ed teacher didn't send the invite home with her students.
Worry. Is this an example of how communication is lacking here?
Reality. Maybe they just have to work or have other kids at home and can't come. It's probably a coincidence.
Jennifer at Three's a Charm shared this post this week and I am trying to keep my mindset here instead of in a state of stress. I think I will just read it every time I start to worry. You know, this should be my new mantra, "Don't Worry, Be Happy."