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 Post subject: "Special" Pre-school
PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2015 8:37 am 
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Giles will be 3 in July and we just had a visit from the area public school about enrolling him in special needs preschool. The main goal is to get him prepared to be a successful kindergartener learning basic numbers/letters but more importantly focusing on skills like following directions, social skills, etc. It is an all day program from 7:30 to 2 monday-friday. He would qualify for this because he has zero words, and poor social/play skills. Right now he gets Speech and Occupational therapy through the state, but at age 3 he has to get his therapy through the school district (or we can pay for it privately which would be a financial strain). I don't know how I feel about this program. 3 seems so young to be doing all day every day "school" but at the same time I want to give him every opportunity to catch up to his peers by kindergarten.
I know a few people on this board have had kids with special needs - did you have your child participate in pre-school through the public school? What was your experience?

Two years of full day preschool before starting kindergarten seems so much...she did say he could do "drop-in" therapy for speech if we wanted without sending him to preschool, but she said OT is very difficult to do that with because the therapist comes in to the classroom throughout the day based on what the class is doing that week. She did say he could do "part-time" say M-F 8 to 12, but she discourages it because they have a "curriculum" they are teaching and if the child isn't there all day they won't know what is going on...
Also - he currently gets private sessions for speech/OT/Developmental play but all the therapy the school offers is group. This school rep was going on about how group sessions are more effective for 3 year olds because they are interested in playing with peers, but it would seem that private sessions would be better since the therapist can focus on your childs needs alone right? I am confused, and sad that we even have to be thinking about all this.


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 Post subject: Re: "Special" Pre-school
PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2015 8:52 am 
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Miles's delays didn't qualify for the "special" pre-school through our district but if it did I would have sent him in a heartbeat! He was going to go to a preschool regardless, at 3, and I would have liked to not have to pay for it while he also had free help with his speech and articulation. He hasn't had any therapy since he aged out because of the high cost of it but going to a general preschool has helped him out a lot.

I'm a huge proponent of 2 years of preschool before Kindergarten. It worked so well for my daughter and it's, so far, working well for Miles.

Does the "special" pre-school also include kids who aren't in need of therapy? Ours mixes kids who do and kids who don't and they all get the same therapy at the same time wether they need it or not. It helps the kids who really do need it to not feel left out or different. I know a bunch of kids in my daughters grade school who went through our districts program and everyone has been very happy with it and some of the kids you would never know they had any issue that needed sorting out. Some of them you obviously can tell they need help with things but the help is continued through the grade school. I've never heard anything bad about it.

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 Post subject: Re: "Special" Pre-school
PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2015 10:27 am 
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My 7 year old daughter is autistic. She started getting services at 2.5, and like you, we had to switch to the school district at 3 for most of her therapies. I am so, so happy I sent her. I also had reservations about sending her to school at that young, with no words, and no ability to tell me how her day was or if someone was mean to her or anything. I was a SAHM and she had never been out of my care for more than a few hours, and that was with trusted grandparents. It was a hard leap of faith to send her to school at that time.

It ended up being a great experience. She really did well, and it did help her social skills. At 7 she is still behind both socially and with her language, but she is way further ahead than she would have been without the school. And in general, it is always easier to terminate services if you regret it than to get services back that you turned down. So from that standpoint, I would start school, give it a month, and see how it goes. If you ever do turn down a service, make sure you say, "not at this time," rather than, "no."

As for Jenna's question about the integrated classroom, my daughter's first class was not and her second was. Her first class was for kids with speech delays of all kinds, and every kid in there had special needs. The next year she went to a different class for kids with autism, and there were "community friends" in the class. I agree that having neurotypical peers whom she could learn from was really valuable. I found it so valuable that my son is a community friend in the same program this year. An integrated class is so beneficial to all of the kids.

I will check back on this thread, but also feel free to PM me if you ever have questions that you would rather ask privately. I am an open book when it comes to my kiddo, so I really will be happy to tell you anything.


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 Post subject: Re: "Special" Pre-school
PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2015 10:45 am 
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Sending you lots of good thoughts annasrobbie, I get how hard this decision must be for you. It sounds like he wouldn't be eligible for individual therapy through the state, right? Could you do group through school and private OT in addition, if you were able to afford it? We have friends whose children are in preschool with special support and also do private OT, and I know that the combination has worked very well for them.

The good thing is that if it doesn't seem to suit him, you can always adjust and take him out or make it part time, you know?

If I were in your shoes, I'd take him on preschool tours for a few places and see how he likes them. I hope you find a solution that works well for your family!

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 Post subject: Re: "Special" Pre-school
PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2015 11:05 am 
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I also had my daughters in both special and non-special classes (my one daughter had medical as well as developmental needs, non-verbal, non-mobile, non-eating) at various points.
Besides the cost issues (which sadly are a big part of reality) I thought it was great, no matter what the structure. I do think that it might be a good opportunity to help him catch up.

I do feel like we were lucky that our special classes also included typically-developing children, and I thought they were great role models, but I can also understand that if a group of children have the same special needs, it may work out better to have only special needs children at times. As with any school or playgroup, I would ask if you could visit the school (without your son and with him) to see the environment and the "tone".

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 Post subject: Re: "Special" Pre-school
PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2015 11:13 am 
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Thanks for the responses. It is helpful to hear from people who have been in the same place (especially hearing such positive things!) The pre-school is only for "special" students, she said it is any child who qualifies for services so some only need speech, or some just PT, some might just be visually impaired etc. and they are all together. The speech therapy is group therapy but done out of classroom and OT she said is as a whole class group. I think she said recess is integrated with head-start preschoolers? The whole integrated recess thing sort of sounds scary...I mean recess is the time when they have the least supervision in my experience and to put all the kids together then seems like kids might get picked on (as you mentioned DEG sending a non-verbal child is scary since they can't tell you if anything is wrong or they are being picked on!) he is a big boy but he is pretty passive and At kindergarten they mainstream every child into the regular classroom here (that sounds scary too! it is all scary!). She said because of the way his birthday falls he will be one of the youngest in his class so depending on how he does we could choose to have him do two years of kindergarten...

He already attends a mother's day out program 3 days a week part days which he and I both like - the teachers say though that by about noon he is "over it" for the day and starts laying at the doorway waiting to go home so I worry about a full day, but I know kids change so much in just a few months so maybe he will be ready for a full day at 3.


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 Post subject: Re: "Special" Pre-school
PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2015 12:05 pm 
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I would think recess for kids his age, even integrated with other preschoolers would be heavily monitored. Especially since there would be a whole class or so of special needs kids. They can't just leave them outside. BUT...that's definitely something you need to ask more questions about.

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 Post subject: Re: "Special" Pre-school
PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2015 12:06 pm 
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So I just got to do a little facebook chat with a woman in my babywearing group who has a daughter who started in the "special" preschool last year. She has had a really good experience overall (even on the scary schoolbus!) so that was immensely reassuring since her child is in the very school mine would probably attend.


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 Post subject: Re: "Special" Pre-school
PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2015 12:10 pm 
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ugh..the schoolbus! That was my biggest worry. I decided that if Miles did get in to the program that I would just take him myself. :)

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 Post subject: Re: "Special" Pre-school
PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2015 1:11 pm 
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She said the school buys a carseat for every child so they are strapped into that on the bus. The bus has a driver and a monitor. I had no idea they had carseats in busses...


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 Post subject: Re: "Special" Pre-school
PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2015 1:22 pm 
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I choose to drive my dd, but most kids take the bus. The main reason I drive her is that I like the Brie check in at the beginning and end of every day. I find it helps me know the teacher better. But it is not a big enough advantage that I would do it if it were otherwise interfering with anything.

Kids who have trouble separating from mom seem to do better on the bus. They get their crying over with on the ride over and are ready to start school when they arrive. A good friend of mine teaches at a special needs preschool program and I know she prefers the bus for most kids for this reason. A lot of kids also seem to like it and feel like "big kids".

FYI, you can turn down bussing and still have your child in the class if that is the arrangement that works for you.


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 Post subject: Re: "Special" Pre-school
PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2015 1:29 pm 
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the first playgroup we did through Early Intervention had some kids bussed there and i remember they always had a line of carseats at the door from the buses. im guessing they belonged to the kids rather than the bus but yeah i was like "whoa carseats on buses?!"

i hope you find a solution that works for you. i wonder if being around other kids each and every day will help him with his words.
i know with BabyPunk she is slightly delayed but i totally know what all her random communicatiions mean. (typically she communicates by yelling AH-BA! and i am supposed to understand what it means and strangely i usually do).
with other kids maybe he will be forced to use some words?

i dont know just a thought i had.

i agree it's very scary.

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 Post subject: Re: "Special" Pre-school
PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2015 1:41 pm 
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our second experience was with head start, and we found they were super duper organized and even recess was well under control. I don't know if they have more monitoring as a federal program or something, but they really had their act together, more so than any other program we used.

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 Post subject: Re: "Special" Pre-school
PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2015 2:39 pm 
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Yes LP. We put him in the Mother's Day Out program which is 3 days a week with just regular kids hoping it would spur language development. His speech therapist feels it has increased his desire to communicate in general and improved his play skills, he just isn't to the point of talking yet. I picked him up from "school" the other day and he wanted a toy a little girl had and he was furiously signing "more please" at her and of course she is totally ignoring his gesticulations since nobody else there signs. Poor guy. You would THINK that would get him to spit some words out...but no.

I totally didn't see your previous posts Torque - I definitely want to take a tour, but the coordinator said she doesn't know which school he will be going to so unless I just want to tour a random place I basically have to wait until open house...

The local mom I just talked to said she has been very pleased with how organized and safe things seem to be. I am so glad I reached out to her!

The bus thing...if my husband continues to be a stay at home parent I would definitely want him to ride in the car to and from school. I just think the less time you have to spend driving around town the better. (I used to take a 1.5 hour bus ride home when I lived 15 min from school!) he has zero issues separating from us so wouldn't need any schoolbus acclimation time ;)


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 Post subject: Re: "Special" Pre-school
PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2015 4:31 pm 
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I don't have a personal experience to share, but our local public school does free pre-K for 4yos and pre-K for 3yos who qualify with special needs, so the 3yo program is non-integrated and the 4yo program is integrated. Our neighbor's 3yo, who has significant developmental delays, started the program this year and is really thriving. She was nonverbal at the beginning of the school year and now has a bunch of words. She's also started playing with other neighborhood kids (like my daughter, who is a couple months younger than she is, but who always played with this girl's older sister instead). Before this she never interacted with the other kids. Her parents are so happy they've been able to enroll her in this program. Her progress has been so much faster than it was with the private OT.


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 Post subject: Re: "Special" Pre-school
PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2015 4:39 pm 
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annasrobbie wrote:
The bus thing...if my husband continues to be a stay at home parent I would definitely want him to ride in the car to and from school. I just think the less time you have to spend driving around town the better. (I used to take a 1.5 hour bus ride home when I lived 15 min from school!) he has zero issues separating from us so wouldn't need any schoolbus acclimation time ;)


Just make sure you say not at this time instead of no so that your husband has options in the future without you having to jump through too many hoops.


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 Post subject: Re: "Special" Pre-school
PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2015 6:00 pm 
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DEG wrote:
annasrobbie wrote:
The bus thing...if my husband continues to be a stay at home parent I would definitely want him to ride in the car to and from school. I just think the less time you have to spend driving around town the better. (I used to take a 1.5 hour bus ride home when I lived 15 min from school!) he has zero issues separating from us so wouldn't need any schoolbus acclimation time ;)


Just make sure you say not at this time instead of no so that your husband has options in the future without you having to jump through too many hoops.


Thank you for the tip! I will be sure to do that!


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