It's official, then. A real life autism specialist said that Bear qualifies for the all access secret pass code to Early Childhood Land.
Which means.... I should probably do something about that. Seeing as how I've been kvetching for almost a year that our school district said at his initial IEP meeting that they couldn't grant him the services he really needed without that diagnosis.
But. Here's the thing. In the meantime I interviewed a bazillion preschools, since it didn't look like I could get him into the special needs preschool. And he started preschool this week. And like every single other 3 year old preschool program I talked to, it's two mornings a week.
And the ECE program? Five days a week. Which seems excessive for a 3 year old.
But I appear to be the only one who has a problem with this. And my main problem appears to be that, after nearly 2 years of being on the constantly overscheduled therapy appointment treadmill, I was really really really looking forward to a "normal" 3 year old's schedule of preschool 2 mornings a week.
Two mornings a week, I might add, that did not require me to be present. (Can I get a hallelujah?!)
The other thing, of course, is the sheer terror I feel at the idea of trying to get Bear anywhere at any set time every single morning. Because dealing with first morning Bear is just like opening the Christmas gift from your Grandma who really likes to craft. You never know what it's gonna be, and you have to adjust your reactions on the fly.
Some mornings, it's gorgeous handmade quilt in my favorite colors I will cherish forever Bear.
And some mornings, it's puff paint on cheap turtleneck, put it on so I can take your picture Bear.
(No, I am not making those up. And I have the photos to prove it.)
Currently, we have to leave for preschool by 8:30 or be late. I've been allowing 90 minutes to get him ready, and we were still late the first day because he couldn't decide where he could sit that would make it acceptable to put his shoes on.
And at that point I'd already bribed him with a chocolate donut to get his pants on. Forget about brushing hair. Or teeth. When he wakes up that disregulated, I'm happy if we achieve "not naked."
And, of course, there's the whole "but this was going to finally be our normal time together" argument.
I made a deal with myself that we'd take this semester for ourselves and see about securing a spring semester ECE spot. I can deal with that. He'll have turned 4 by then. And that will still give him a year and a half of special needs preschool to prep him for Kindergarten.
But everyone's telling me, in one form or another, to suck it up. So there's that. Plus, there are two more complicating factors I was recently forced to consider:
1) His new baby brother is due within days of when he would start spring semester in the new school with the new, every day schedule. I can't possibly ask him to adjust to both things at once.
2) The school called a few days ago to follow up on his suspended IEP. I mentioned I was going to call soon because of the recent autism diagnosis, and they fell all over themselves to be helpful. At which point I found out if they grant the service they won't hold a spot for spring, he'd have to start right away. (I told them the truth - I'm still waiting for all the medical reports before calling the IEP meeting. She gave me until October 1st to get back with them.)
So. I made a list of pros and cons to starting ECE as soon as possible to help me figure out what to do.
Pros for Bear
1) It would give him plenty of time to adjust to the new school and schedule before he has to adjust to his new sibling.
2) It's exactly what all of his doctors and therapists think he needs.
3) I heard from another mom with a son in the program that the daily routine of ECE helped create improvements across the board, especially at home.
Pros for Me
1) I could rediscover what it's like to do client work in actual daylight.
2) I could rediscover what color my floors are under all those dust bunnies and dog prints.
3) I could rediscover what the inside of my gym looks like.
4) I could rediscover my muscles under all this fat.
5) I could rediscover how to use my stove.
6) I could actually get some writing done.
7) I could be less stressed, less pressed for time and more there for Bear the rest of the day.
8) I could schedule something like a pap smear without hours of frantic phone calls trying to get a sitter.
9) It's free. And the tuition we're paying private preschool sure could be used elsewhere, like the giant pile of medical bills we're about to get now that we started new medical insurance and are in the deductible phase.
1) I don't wanna.
2) Because it's hard.
3) No. Seriously. It's hard.
4) You want me to put my 3 year old on a bus? By HIMSELF?!
5) Booking doctor and therapy appointments will become a choice between missing school or taking him as an overstimulated, disregulated meltdowny mess after school. (I know, I know. Y'all already do it. But again - only 3! I was supposed to have more time!)
I met another mom in OT in the same district with a son the same age - she turned down the ECE placement they offered her because she wasn't comfortable with 5 days a week, and they wouldn't budge to let her do 4 days a week so he could stay in his OT group. So, I'm not the only one with these misgivings. Every day just seems like a helluva lot to ask of a group of kids who are probably already booked out the wazoo with therapies.
Obviously, I'm gonna do it. I just need time to process, mentally and emotionally. Which, luckily, I appear to be getting in the form of the pathetically slow trickle of the medical reports I need to proceed (so far, I've got 1 of 5).
So, I have until October 1st to call the IEP meeting. That probably puts him in ECE right around his 4th birthday. I guess I can live with that.