Something really great happened last week. After two months of Emma crying at school - sometimes so uncontrollably that I was called back to school - she stopped cold turkey on a day that I was sure would be a tear jerker for her. Hmm....shows how much my girl likes to keep me on my toes.
Emma had off for 12 days straight at Thanksgiving and I was so worried about her first day back after the long break. I was prepared for a lot of crying but my little turkey was all smiles and kicking her feet in excitement as we entered school. Then, she didn't even give me a glance, a tear, a moan, or any acknowledgement at all as she filed out of the cafeteria and went to her classroom with her classmates. WOW! She has come a long way.
Everyone at the school noticed. When I go to pick her up people come up to me in the hall telling me how good Emma did in school - no crying and she participated in her therapy sessions. They are finally seeing the happy, laughing side of Emma and I think they are finally beginning to think that I'm not so crazy when I tell them what Emma can do because they are starting to see some of her skills for themselves. And, I think they are now quite smitten with her. Actually, I'm noticing that Emma has quite a following at school. The pre-school is our public elementary school and I'm surprised at how many older kids say "Hi, Emma" or "Bye, Emma!" as I'm taking her through the halls. I ask Emma who they are and she just smiles at me :-) It's a bit surreal to me that Emma has a portion of her life that doesn't necessarily include her family. I had a similar feeling when Julia started school, too, but it's a bit more of a shock to me with Emma since she is literally joined at my hip many waking hours.
Last week we also implemented some changes we made to her IEP (individual education plan). Emma qualifies for pre-school services 5 full days a week, but much of that time would not be in an inclusion classroom. After much discussion, we started Emma in pre-school for the typical inclusion hours only which is 3 days/week from 9-11:30am and one day she would stay for lunch. Since we want her in the classroom as much as possible and with the many therapies she receives at school, we decided to adjust her schedule a bit. She is now attending the 3 days/week and staying through lunch. She now will be in the special ed classroom from 11:30am - 12:15 pm where she will work on some of her IEP goals without getting pulled-out from the inclusion classroom and that is working really for her. She is also going to stay all 3 days for lunch. The truth is that Emma will likely need help with feeding for a while and it is good for her to get used to having someone other than me, Chris and my Mom feed her. With only staying 1 day/week for lunch Emma didn't have enough trust in her teacher to let her feed her and it was a no win situation. This week I co-fed Emma with her teacher and Emma is much more open to eating when her teacher feeds her. I gave quite a few tips to Miss Jackie so she can read Emma's non-verbal cues for her feeding and they are starting to get into a feeding rhythm together. The lunch takes place in the four year old inclusion classroom so Emma is very distracted and not eating about half as much as she would at home, but I think that will change as she adjusts to the new lunch situation. I'm excited about this change because Emma will be in the classroom more and have some extra one-on-one time to work on her goals in addition to having a more social eating situation (with other kids) 3 days/week.
I'm hopeful that this week at school will go as smoothly as last week. Now, if I could just get over the feeling of being a bit lost for the time when both my girls are in school I would say that I'm adjusting as good as Emma!
I am a work in progress. I love drinking coffee, family time and documenting our life - not necessarily in that order. My hair is usually in a ponytail, house always looks lived in and a book is never far from my reach. I drive thousands of miles a year, mostly a little bit at a time - somehow that does and doesn't drive me crazy at the same time. My life is far from perfect but it works for me.