I had a really great meeting with Charlie's infant teacher and services coordinator last Friday. We met informally to discuss preschool options.
Charlie's teacher and services coordinator are both so impressed with Charlie. They've seen him in action, and know that he is a capable, beautiful child. His infant teacher has been to the Children's Center many times to visit Charlie. She knows he is thriving in that environment.
Charlie's services coordinator has been so good to us these last 3 years. She has supported us in getting services for Charlie that generally hadn't been started at his young age. I asked for these services because I thought they would benefit Charlie to start as young as possible, and he has done wonderfully.
I am so thankful for these two women!
In our meeting I shared my concern that Charlie needs interaction with his typically developing peers. My desire is for him to stay at the Children's Center with his friends. After a lot of thought and discussion, Ray and I also decided Charlie probably needs the intensive program at the Special Ed preschool as well. The intensive instruction will help him keep up with his friends when he gets to the preschool class next fall, which has a faster pace and a greater child to teacher ratio. So...
The plan for the IEP meeting next month is to ask for Charlie to attend Special Ed preschool 2 days a week (1/2 days to start out), and Children's Center 2 days a week and increasing to 3 days a week when he starts preschool class in the fall.
Ray and I are feeling really good about this set-up. Charlie's teacher and services coordinator also think this would be a great combination for Charlie. I am confident that this plan has the heart of the IDEA act at it's core. It gives Charlie the intensive instruction he needs to make big steps developmentally, and it includes him in his natural environment with his non-disabled friends.
Oh and this plan comes with a bonus: Charlie will get to ride a school bus to Special Ed preschool in the mornings (which makes me feel a little nervous, but I know Charlie will think it is the coolest thing ever!).
I am so grateful Charlie's teacher and Coordinator are willing to come to extra meetings just for me (and Charlie). This meeting was not a requirement, but they care for our family and want to work with us to find a good solution for Charlie's education.
It is unseen what the School Administrators will think of our plan. Our hope is that they will say, "Hey, that is a great idea. Let's do it." But regardless, I feel confident having so many people coming to the IEP who agree that Charlie needs to be with his non-disabled peers as much as possible to benefit from his overall educational experience.
I am breathing. In and out. We will make it through this, and Charlie, well, he will soar. I am confident in that.