This week was the first meeting in Goldie's transition from home based to school based Early Intervention services. I still remember the very first IFSP meeting. I think she was only 5 weeks old. There was a woman named Brenda asking me what my goals for Goldie were during the first year. Who ever thought I would be coming up with goals for our new baby? All I wanted to do was feed her and take a nap. Somehow, thought started forming about what I wanted her immediate future to look like. I went back through 8 years of being a mom and watching my other babies grow and decided that is what we would aim for. One thing I specifically remember telling them was I wanted Goldie to eat real food. Not baby food, just like my other kids did. Brenda looked up at me to see if I was serious. Then she said " Well, we'll have to make sure she can do it safely." Goldie did accomplish this goal. I had to compromise a little along the way, but not much. The lesson I learned is that you can't be afraid to aim high. If I had been wrong it would have been ok. We would have given Goldie the support she needed and adjusted our expectations. But, we should always give her the chance to succeed.
Now that I've gotten way off track from my original topic... I admit I've been pretty worried about how this transition will go. You just get used to dealing with one system and now its time to move on to another. I've also never liked the idea that my daughter is part of "the system". I've always enjoyed my parental autonomy and really resent anything that infringes on it. I was laying in bed thinking about how I could be at peace with this process when I realized the obvious. Hank and I are still her parents, we are still in charge. We have the final say in what services our daughter receives. If we don't like what Early Intervention has to offer, we have choices. We can even choose to take her to private therapists and pay for prek ourselves. We are not at the mercy of the system.
I woke up in a great mood the day of the meeting. I made a list of all Goldie's strengths and the things she is still learning to do. (Good thing, because I was asked for these) I also wrote down some questions. Hank was watching the girls, so I went alone. This is fine because he tends to be too nice to people. He's great at compromise and I'm great at sticking to my guns! The meeting consisted of myself, Goldie's current SC, and a man whose title was Early Intervention Service Coordinator. I guess he's going to be the new SC.
It went about as I expected and he wasn't able to answer all my questions. I give him props for admitting that and not just giving me bad information. He asked what we had in mind for Goldie. I told him, "We decided that the Fall after she turns 3 would like to enroll her in a typical preschool setting." That was followed by him trying to convince me to enroll her in the special ed pre-k in March. I simply repeated "We won't be sending her anywhere until the Fall after she turns 3." He realized rather quickly I wouldn't be changing my mind. I did explain our reasoning (new baby), but he just raised his eyebrows and went back to writing. Whatever. I guess he took it personally.
Next came the question of how will Goldie receive services if she is not in pre-k or daycare. He didn't know and told me to ask at her eval in January. Wrote that ? down. I also have to ask how they will implement her oral motor therapy in the classroom.
Then we talked about typical pre-k options. Not far from us is a typical preschool that has slots for students with IEPs and has staff from EI in the classroom in addition to their own teachers. I had already heard about this option and we are very interested in this for Goldie. My big question is how do I make sure she gets one of those slots? I was told "We just put her in there" Yeah, right. I don't believe that for a second.
Finally, came the paperwork. I was asked to sign a paper allowing them to bill Medicaid for Goldie's services. I asked if this would cause a problem if we pursued private therapy. He said "no, well it shouldn't, unless their billed on the same day for multiple services." I said I would bring that form back later. I could have signed "No" and her services would still be free, but I wanted more time to think about it.
Overall, I wasn't impressed. I had some big safety issues with the building. Goldie could have easily walked out the front door. (I know people who work there that have found kids wandering the building) There was no interest in Goldie as a member of our family. There was a brief explanation of why inclusion is a great idea, but segregation (my word, not his) of children with special needs is sometimes necessary. Then it was my turn to make faces.
The best part of the day though - while I was gone Hank decided to play outside with the chainsaw so the girls were on Goldie duty. They got her to sleep for a nap, fed her a snack, and took her to the potty. Where she did number 1 & 2! (Now that's a whole post for later.)