Currently, Peanut attends Physical Therapy once a week for 30 minutes, in-home therapy twice a week for 1 hour and soon will be adding Speech and OT every other week. (These are the two therapy’s that are 2 hours away…but that’s another post) This has been our schedule basically non-stop since she was just 4 months old. But coming in the next few months…it all will change.
Technically her PT stops at age 3 (May 18′). That’s how our local regional center has in place. Our therapist has insisted that she will do everything to make sure Peanut’s therapy continues if she is not walking consistently on her own. She tells us that her job doesn’t end until Peanut is independent.
Now, next month she turns 2 1/2 years old. Based on our regional center standards, this means her twice a week in-home therapy ends and she starts pre-school once a week for 4 hours. For most children, I think this is probably a perfect transition. For Peanut, I just don’t think she’s ready.
Let me explain why. I’m not being that typical overprotective mother. Peanut has no issues at all being away from me so I’m not expecting major issues there. Also, with the added travel and new therapies, I could use a small break. However, she is currently not walking independently and is non-verbal. How in the world will she thrive in a school setting?? How will she ask for what she needs?
This is my main concern: When you leave Peanut alone, for the most part, she will be perfectly fine and entertain herself. I’ve seen it happen. While she’s in our church nursery, or even home with a sitter, if you give her space she will be content and have no issues. The reason for this…her autism diagnosis. Peanut will not voluntarily engage with someone. Not even with us really. She needs to be pushed to interact and get out of her bubble. Because of this, if the adults in the area are busy with children who are crying or other things, they can easily see her as happy. Our worry is that she will be forgotten in the hustle of 10 other children with special needs. Because she seems so happy, will they even notice her? We have the option to say no to the pre-school and continue with in-home therapy. But no matter what, when she turns 3, that service ends.
This has been my stress for the past few weeks. I’ve done a lot of research about homeschooling children with special needs. Unfortunately, I still feel lost and unsure of where to even start. There are positive and negatives to keeping her home and sending her off to school! We do not live in an area where there is a good reputation for schooling for children with special needs. There are a few amazing special education teachers, but most that I know are for older students and we would still be fighting the school for services. At the same time, I don’t want my fears to hold her back from the chance to thrive in a school setting.
So what is the answer? No, really, what is it?? I’m at a loss right now! So much of Peanut’s progress relies on us. If we make the wrong decisions it can affect her tremendously. This is what sucks about being a special needs parent! The pressure of not failing is tough!! Often times I catch myself throughout the day just praying “Please help me be the mom she deserves!”
Please, please, please….any advice you can give me would be appreciated. Do you know anything about homeschooling? Have you dealt with difficult school systems? Does your child just not fit the typical “standards” for special education? Any words of guidance will be helpful!!