Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Getting Closer to School

As we get closer and closer to Chloe's 3rd birthday I'm getting more and more nervous. Scratch that. Terrified. My biggest concern, of course, is her vision. Chloe can either look out in front of her OR down at the ground. She can't do both. We're usually in a safe and familiar environment - our house - but when we're in a new environment she'll either trip on something or walk into something. She does it regularly. Chloe also has issues with balance so she tends to move quickly. I know that seems odd but moving slowly means she can lose her balance and fall over more easily. If she moves quickly and has some momentum behind her movement then she's less likely to wobble and fall over.

Pair her quick speed with her inability to see obstacles and you have a recipe for disaster. Now I know what you people with typical kids are thinking. You're thinking that toddlers are just clumsy and that your toddler has also fallen down, walked into things, tripped, etc. But please don't get my blood boiling by telling me about it. I know you mean well but it's.simply.not.the.same. Without close supervision Chloe will walk into things and smash her head on corners of tables, door frames, chairs, walls, people's knees, you name it all the time. She even falls over after standing up half the time. She's tough. She's really tough. Solana cried the other night because she scraped her foot climbing down from her bunk bed. I was glad Dave comforted her because, let me tell you, I was having a hard time mustering up sympathy for her. Chloe hurts herself like that a dozen times a day. Three times she's run into a door frame so hard that she was hurtled backwards and hit the back of her head on the other side of the door frame. Her vision therapist told me that if she hits the back of her head she could damage her vision even more. I can only imagine if Solana slammed her head into a door frame the way Chloe has. We'd never hear the end of it.

We had a party for Dave on Saturday and there was a little boy two months "younger" than Chloe (he should be two months older than her) running around weaving his way through the crowd. There were 45 people in our house. And I thought to myself, "There's NO WAY Chloe could do that." Oh, she'd try. But she'd fall on her butt several times, fall on her face several more, get kneed in the face, run into a chair, plus more just on her way through the crowd one time. How on earth is she going to get along in a classroom with kids who can do what he just did and where the teacher is also watching a dozen other kids? How many times will she smack her face on a shelf that she didn't see and I won't ever know about it? She's talking really well and, unless you know what to look for, you could easily forget that she has a vision impairment. But I know her better than anyone. I know to warn her when she's moving too quickly without looking where she's going. I watch her like a hawk outside of our house. I follow her up and down the playground equipment because I know the different circumstances that she loses her balance. Who's going to do that for her at school? I know I need to be able to let go. But at what cost? Ugh. I'm about to start bawling right now.

We haven't had a transition meeting yet and I haven't observed the preschool classroom. I expect and hope that many of my fears will be eased during those meetings. Chloe's EIS and PT were telling me today that Chloe will have IEP (Individualized Education Plan) and I'll put goals on it like, for example, "Learn to Safely Navigate Her Surroundings." They assured me that Chloe won't be just thrown into the mix and have her special needs forgotten.

Here's my plan so far:
-Visit the school before the year is over.
-Work up a list of questions for her transition meeting.
-Make sure Linda (Vision Therapist) is at the transition meeting.
-Request that her Vision Therapist accompany her on her first few days of school.
-Request the Mobility/Orientation person work with Chloe to orient her to the school.

And finally, drink wine. Lots of wine every night after the girls go to bed.


Anonymous said...

I have to say that I am a bit relieved to read that you also have a hard time finding sympathy for Solana sometimes. When Lucy whines about something hurting SO much (like brushing her hair, for instance), I go absolutely nuts. Last week I actually yelled at her "do you know how much pain your sister has to go through?" It's not fair, but we're only human. As for school, see if it's possible for you to have Chloe's Vision Therapist sit in for the IEP meeting. I know here they allow it. I've heard of cases of kids with vision issues like Chloe actually having a dedicated aide to help them navigate school, at least in the beginning.

Cyndi Hendrickson said...

Thanks Mel! I just added your suggestion to my list!

A Goldsworthy Note said...

Cynthia, you're such a great mother. I know it's tough for you to "let go" but it should be're her mother! I'll pray for you during this transition. If you ever want to talk give me a call or you know I'll be calling the next morning. hahaha. Give those two girls a kiss from their Aunt Valerie.

Kim said...

Deep breath in, deep breath out. I wish I had better advice. And speaking of preschool-Mrs. Minham says hello! She tries to keep up with the family blog but she wanted you to know she thinks of all of you. And I'll be more than happy to bring you a Chai and cry with you on her first day. Don't worry, I don't mind sitting in the van in the school parking lot, while you spy through the window. ;-)

Emily and Troy Williams said...

{{{HUGS}}} Chloe is tough, and you are tough. It may take a while, and it will have some rough patches, but you guys will get it figured out. And Chloe will be much the better because you stood up for her and made sure that she got the tools she needs to be successful.

And if you need wine, let me know. I just happen to be related to someone who works at a winery. ;)

The Hillbergs said...

You have a plan - so I think you are good. I especially like the last step (drink wine). Do not give the wine to Chloe or she may trip and fall even more. Just a suggestion. With the teacher very aware of C's vision imparement, hopefully that will help make the classroom a little safer (making sure chairs are pushed into tables instead of in the walkways and little things like that). Chloe can do it!! She's so tough - she's made it so far -- I mean, to her, preschool and its bumps and bruises are probably nothing compared to the fun of IV lines, mommies stuffing contacts into your eyes (heehee-thats a joke), and growing yourself from just a little peanut into a big, strong, healthy girl! She'll do fantastic - I just know it.

Megan B ♥ said...

This preschool thing is SO SCARY, but it sounds like you have your thumb on the situation and some good plans. I hope that she is in a smaller class with more teachers and aides. She is one tough cookie. She gets it from her mama.

Holbergs said...

Don't forget that the IEP is a legal document. Get everything you can on there, and make sure it's being followed! As a teacher, I can assure you that I would NEVER stray from an IEP. It's a really big deal.
.......OR.......You can just send her to boarding school at my house where I will meet all of her educational, visual, and Aunt Lala-loving needs! :o)