For 11 years I worked with Early Childhood Intervention, assisting families with the developmental delays of their children, and helping them through the transition process as their children neared the age of three. I’ve talked families through the steps of being referred to the Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities (PPCD), and tried to ease their fears as they told me the concerns and worries they had about sending their “baby” to school. I’ve participated in countless evaluations, and watched as families turned their little one over to an evaluation team, and then answered question after question about their child. I know this process inside and out, but it is unbelievably hard to go through it with James.
Thankfully James only knows how fun it is. He did great at his evaluation. I think he loved every bit it. He enjoyed all the attention, playing with new toys, and he especially enjoyed running up and down the hallway, in and out of rooms, so the physical therapist could observe how he moves. James had a blast and would go back again if he could.
Not me. I cried. The hard kind of cry where you can’t even talk. I wasn’t expecting that, even though a very wise person told me I’d cry. She’s been through this, and she knows how much it hurts your heart to have a group of people evaluating your child because your child is different. I know James is behind. His development is not like a typical almost-three-year-old, and truly, I’m ok with that. But it’s easier to be ok with that at home, where I can help him and protect him a little. It’s a lot harder to be ok with that in the real world.
I’m trying to focus on all the good as I find a way to be ok with this over the next few months. And there is a lot of good. We had an amazing group of people helping us through this process. His assessment team was kind and very understanding. They gave me lots of time to pull myself together so I could participate. One of them shared that she, too, has been in that same position with her son, and she understands how difficult it can be. They didn’t hesitate when I questioned the evaluation they were going to do (on the advice of one of his awesome therapists – thank you!), and had no problem changing their plans and doing a different test on James. *(If you’re getting ready to go through this process, ask specifically what type of evaluation they will be doing. They didn’t tell me until I asked that one of the evals they were going to do is an IQ test. I don’t want an IQ test done on James at this age. It won’t be accurate, and I don’t want a low score influencing expectations his teachers have of him. I learned later that a short discussion followed his evaluation because they never had a parent question this before. And, they know the IQ tests aren’t accurate, but they continue to do them anyway. Maybe if more people ask questions they’ll find a more accurate test to use on every child they evaluate.)
In my head I know it’s best for James to go to school. In my heart I’m full of fear and worry and I just want to keep him home and protect him. Somehow, over the next few months, my head and my heart will meet and get this all figured out. James is growing into an amazing little boy and I have no doubt he will love going to school. He will learn so many new things, and he’ll grow and change in ways I can’t even imagine. I think James has a lot to contribute also. He has an infectious joy and excitement for everything he does. He truly makes every moment better. I just hope James has a teacher who will take the time to find and appreciate all of the good and wonderful parts of my little guy.