Friday, September 19, 2008

Caden goes to school

Here's the deal with Caden's schooling for this year: he attends a special education preschool two mornings a week where he also receives his speech, physical and occupational therapies. There are 7 children, one teacher, one aide, and the 3 therapists in one room so lots of supervision.
He also attends an inclusive preschool two mornings a week where he is the only child with an IEP (Individual Education Plan used for children in special ed programs). Five hours a month, he is joined there by a support teacher but the rest of the time, he's gotta hold his own. There are 12 kids there with one teacher and one aide in 2 rooms so a lot less adult supervision. Also, no one there knows sign language which is Caden's primary means of communication.

Initially, I was worried about how he'd handle four days of school, the structure, the other kids, snack time, the playground... all for naught. My boy LOVES school! As we approach the door to either of his classrooms, he runs inside without so much as a glance back at his mother. No goodbye kisses. Not even a wave. He is off to have fun and play with his friends! He is absolutely thriving. I can fight with him all day to try a new food and end up with nothing more than a hungry stubborn boy and a mess of denied food to clean up. However when he sees his friends eating that same food, he's suddenly willing to nosh away. I can do exercises with him every morning to increase his fine motor skills that leave us both frustrated. When his classmates are stringing beads or coloring inside the lines, Caden is ready to focus his efforts. This peer modeling is one of the best therapies for him. He's such a sociable little guy and already at the age of 3, he doesn't want to be left out. It's a relief to me that, at this age anyway, the other children don't notice that there is anything "wrong" with Caden. I am glowing, I am thrilled, but mostly I am proud.

Couple interesting things happen to me in this process of starting school. I'm now officially "Caden's mom". The other kids all refer to me as Caden's mommy. The school or doctor phones the house and asks to speak to Caden's mom. Even the Tank calls me Mommy almost exclusively these days though I'll admit I haven't decided whether I like it from him or not. I lost my last name when we got married and now I don't even have a first name for crying out loud!

Also I am learning to let go. Caden is growing up and discovering his independence in this life outside his home. A part of his day four times a week is largely unknown to me. He comes home signing a new song or doing a new dance and I have no idea what it is. Because he's non-verbal, I can't ask him what he did in school today. I know he loves it there and am comforted by his excitement but am still learning to share the responsibility of his growth and development with others. I wonder which of us is learning the most when Caden goes to school.


Stephanie said...

I also no longer exist when we pass through the doors of Aiden's class. As soon as he sees the other kids, I vanish into thin air.

And LOL about "Caden's Mommy." At least they ask for you that way. Aiden's doctors call and I hear, "This is a message for Aiden. Don't forget that you have an appointment with Dr. So-and-so tomorrow at ...." They don't even want to talk to me.

My name is Sarah said...

Caden is so cute. I hope he has fun in school this year.

WheresMyAngels said...

He is so dang cute! He has got the prettiest head of hair!