Friday, August 26, 2011

breaking up with our preschool

We enrolled Little Guy in a summer therapy program for autistic kids and it has been amazing for him. We didn't plan for him go there during the regular school year because (a) it is a healthy commute away, (b) we knew insurance coverage would be a battle and it costs $$$ and (c) I felt it was important to keep Little Guy around typically developing peers.

But from the very first week this program started making a big difference for Little Guy. I thought I must have been imagining it, surely there couldn't be such improvement so soon. Then Hubby noted it. Then in the third week Little Guy's speech therapist, who was completely unaware of his participation in the program, commented how he had been blossoming the last few weeks. I finally accepted that we weren't just seeing what we wanted -- this program was truly and dramatically helpful for Little Guy.

We weighed out pros (the obvious benefit to Little Guy) and cons (3 mornings a week in a metro area with Baby Boy and time in need of killing, for one) but the choice seemed obvious. The kiddos well-being will always trump just about everything, and there is no denying the benefits for Little Guy. Baby Boy isn't exactly complaining about weekly trips to the zoo/museum/cool new park either. So inconvenience and cost for Mommy and Daddy aside, continuing on in the program became the winning option.

Then came battles with insurance, which seem to have come to a favorable resolution thanks to the involvement of a benefits advocate. This means the way is clear for Little Guy to continue on with his program. Yay! It also means that I have to let his preschool know that he will not be returning in the fall.

It is one of those bittersweet turns of life. His preschool is fantastic. They are great with kids, have an excellent curriculum and awesome special events. His teachers and the director have been wonderful and kind, not just to Little Guy but to me during one of the most difficult times in my life.

They were the ones that first clued me in that something was amiss with our high-functioning son. I can vividly recall Little Guy's first day of school ever, when his teacher casually commented that Little Guy didn't talk very much. Speech evaluations and therapy followed. It was in the lobby of that preschool one year later that the visiting Early Intervention teacher told me that she believed he was autistic and should be tested. In the weeks that followed the staff offered me kind words of comfort that mattered very much.

Leaving Little Guy's preschool is in many ways like leaving a community. Autism might have put us on the fringes, but we still had one foot in.

But again, this decision isn't about me. It's about what is best for Little Guy.

If I could rewrite reality, Little Guy would not be autistic. He would be starting his next year of regular preschool and thriving there.

In reality, Little Guy did not thrive there. He is not just another kid, and I am not just another mom. his program in the city we are perhaps just that.

So dearest old preschool, I will break up with you and leave behind for good my preconceptions of what preschool for Little Guy would be. It is time for us to dive into our new community...hope there's water in that pool!


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