When it was time to start transitioning Colin into the public school preschool program, Chris and I were ready. Although we really enjoyed the therapists that came to the house through Early Intervention, we thought Colin was ready to be in a more structured program with other kids. Colin's attention span was decreasing through time since he was working in his own home, so we couldn't wait for him to get into school. For us, it was also an exciting time because Colin was already familiar with a structured school setting since he had been attending from 6 months old and on.
Although the testing phase wasn't fun (it has never been fun), the rest of our easing into preschool has been a great one. I have felt rather stressed along the way in terms of making decisions because sometimes it's really hard to know whether or not you are making the right one. For a long time, Chris and I really wanted an inclusive program because we wanted him with his typical peers. However, the inclusive program was only for 2 hours a day and had up to 18 (or 20?) kids in the class with only one teacher and one paraprofessional. The whole reason we were looking forward to preschool was so that Colin would get the attention he needed, and we didn't feel he would get it in that program.
We decided on the 3 hour self-contained classroom which can have up to 12 kids (and right now there is even less!) with one teacher and two paraprofessionals. The majority of the kids in the class are verbal (which was really what we wanted for Colin) and he is getting the attention he needs right now to improve on his communication skills, as well as the common preschool aged tasks that he should be able to complete. For now, this is the best fit for Colin, but this is all with the idea in mind that we will eventually transition him into a more inclusive program as gets older and acquires these skills.
I feel that there is only so much research and talking to other people that you can do without just trying something out anyway. No matter what we had decided, we still need to learn as we go and we will appropriately adjust if we find that something doesn't work for him. We have been so happy with the progress we have seen Colin make so far in so many areas and absolutely love his "team" that work with him on a regular basis.
Tonight, Colin's school had a fundraiser at the local McDonald's where some of the proceeds went towards the school itself. The majority of the staff members were working there in some capacity and it was packed with a lot of families. I can't even begin to tell you how good it feels to see how much the teachers, therapists, paraprofessionals, administrators, etc. love your child. We are so thankful that Colin is in the right place for him!
Last week, Colin's physical therapist sent Chris and I this video during the day to show us what she had been working on with Colin and how excited she was for how well he was doing. We're pretty lucky!