To catch up, we had Belle's ID meeting with the school district. Our service coordinator called me at 10:30 (time of our meeting) to say she couldn't make it. I was a little disappointed because it would've been nice to have someone else, aside my husband, validate my words. The child study team were all very pleasant. I stated right off the bat that I'm not interested in full days, even if she qualifies. It's not going to happen. Even the five days a week for two and a half hours seems like a lot and maybe it's because she's going to a real school, not a daycare or preschool, but school where other students will be in first and second grade. My little, just turned three year old...it's a bit overwhelming when I think of it all. Plus, they are moving to a bigger school (right now it's pre-k and the kindergarten program, it will be the pre-k through second grade). I agreed that I would go through the referral process and get it out of the way, yet a part of me still has this feeling of uncertainty, like I should possibly wait to have her start when she's four. Maybe it's the momma bear in me that wants to "protect her" as long as possible or the laziness in me who doesn't want to have to deal with all things associated with school right now. Or is it that I am scared to let go, even if it's for two and a half hours. I am worried that some "big kid" will pick on her or hurt her, that she'll run away from her teachers, that they won't share the same amount of love and comfort that she receives with me, etc.
As of last week I was perfectly fine with starting her this September, yet now I have these feelings again. Ugh. I hate how my mind works. I suppose if they kept the preschool program in the same location I wouldn't be so reluctant. The only perk is that she will be at the same school for five years. That's a plus.
Okay so back to the meeting. I was very upfront with the CST and stated our concerns, etc.,. They asked if she had a diagnosis and I was reluctant to share but did anyway because I am not ashamed. Just based on her diagnosis alone, she is accepted into their program, but they still need to do the evals and then have the IEP to make sure a plan is set in place. The CST asked me questions as to how I knew that she had autism, what has been working, how far she's truly come, etc. I was glad to share and give them my suggestions. It felt good being able to educate and advocate for my daughter and because of my knowledge, the meeting went smoother than I had originally anticipated. My husband accompanied me to be there for moral support. Originally, we had plans to go down to the shore so when we saw our meeting was scheduled that day, it worked out perfectly because Matt had already put in for a vacation day. He was quiet and attended to Autumn while I did all of the talking. The school psychologist had made a comment about that to Autumns OT (who happens to be the OT at the school-another perk but she's expecting and won't be there when Autumn starts), thank goodness the OT came to our defense (dad isn't home with Autumn, so he's not going to do most of the talking, you're lucky he came to the meeting, most dads don't). Oh how I love her!! The school psychologist was the only one who seemed a bit indifferent. I am sure if she were a colleague we would work well together, but butt heads. Very analytical and straight forward. That's okay but for some parents, it may come across as being intimating.
Overall, it was a good meeting. Autumn was well behaved and she played with their toys. Her IEP is July 7th. Right before she turns three. I joked with the CST saying I never thought I'd be on this side of the table but I am glad I can be the best advocate for my daughter. I also realized that as much as Autumn has improved in so many areas, we still have to go through these things (meetings and evals) and part of me feels exhausted for her because to me, she's perfect. Yes, I say that now. I really have come a long way this month in just being grateful for her progression and what she "can do" rather than focus on what she "can't" and comparing her milestones to other kids.
Speaking of the "cans", this past week has been huge! She said her first five syllable sentence, she's labeling everything, she's repeating words when I ask her to, she said clear as day: octopus, tiger, chocolate, Leah, and grandpa (more words can't think of them all) AND she spelled her name outloud!! Typical or not, I believe ANY parent would be proud of the above!
And maybe the accomplishments above are giving me my "second thoughts" about starting her with the school district this fall. That a part of me believes that I've done so much for her why bother, but then another part of me says, if I never try it, how will I know if it works or if it doesn't work. Worst case, I can always take her out of the program if it's too much for either of us. Nothing is saying I can't. Then again really what this is all about is she's my baby. Yes my soon-to-be three year old who looks more like four because she's so tall, yet she's not potty trained and still my little girl that even for three hours, I don't want to "leave her" just yet. It's more me (always has been). I blame attachment parenting (lol jk). I go back to the first three days after giving birth and I remember clear as day crying about Autumn growing up too fast and now, here we are talking about preschool!! When did this all happen?? I knew then how precious our time was together and I suppose I just don't like wasting my time or giving up time that I could've been with her, because I know it goes too fast and I will never get these years back. I know this, which is why I hold on so much. So that's the enigma behind this so-called riddle I dance around with everyday: I am not ready to let go because I am selfish and I don't want her to grow up just yet. Well that's wrong I know and deep down I have to learn to let her go and let her spread her own wings. I am going to be a blubbering mess when she starts school (either when she's 3, 4 or 5) because it is the beginning of her becoming her own person, of her weaving her own web, her own path in life. And THIS is the most difficult: it's the beginning of "mom won't be my entire world" anymore. Oh boy how that is going to hurt but then the spiritual/logical side of me says "I will be there", maybe not front and center but "I will always be there". It's going to be a beautiful, bittersweet change we both with experience together. Parenting: a joyous chaos of everlasting emotions.
Gotta love it!
PS: This takes me back: