When the boys turned three this past month, we "graduated" from Help Me Grow services. Help Me Grow is a county based program here in Ohio that provides free early intervention services including occupation therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy at no charge to children 0-3 years old who meet certain guidelines. The boys being 29 week old preemies automatically qualified them for services.
So for three years, we had weekly visits to help the boys meet all the expected milestones. They were wonderful and without them, the boys would definitely not be where they are today.
Right before their third birthday, our local school district came to evaluate the boys to see if they qualified for free preschool under an IEP. An IEP is an Individual Education Plan developed to help any student that might have a disability that interferes with their ability to learn.
The preschool would be at our local school; there are twelve children in each class, four are "typicals" and eight are "IEP based". Students are eligible to ride the bus to school each day as well.
When the school evaluated the boys, they immediately dismissed Hayden as eligible. However, they carried through Noel and Tanner to something called the arena. This is where they would bring the boys into the preschool class one day and evaluate them.
After the arena, Noel was determined not to qualify. This was great news -- my littlest one who is diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy didn't have anything that limited his ability to learn.
However, Tanner did qualify as the school team was worried that some of his behaviors may interfere with his ability to learn. To be exact, they told me either he was brilliant and needed more stimulation, or he needs help learning how to take cues and participate in a learning environment.
Tanner has always been a little quirky in the way he communicates. We had an appointment at Cincinnati Children's Hospital to have him evaluated for behavioral problems, even autism, but the jury is still out on that. After our initial appointment, the doctor stated that some things Tanner does is textbook autism, but other things he does are not ever seen in children with autism. So, we are going through a battery of tests over the next several months, and will hopefully get a final word from the doctors in September.
In the meantime, Tanner will go to preschool at our local public school three days a week. He will also get to ride the bus there and back each day -- something he LOVES.
All three boys attend preschool one day a week at our church's preschool. It is a wonderful program and the boys love their weekly Thursday class. Both Dan and I thought it was very important to have Tanner still go with his brothers to church preschool once a week.
Next year, Tanner will go to our local public preschool four days a week, while Hayden and Noel continue to go to our church preschool three days a week. I will put Hayden and Noel in different classes, so every boy will have their own class, make their own friends, and gain their own independence.
The year after (the year before they start kindergarten), the principal of our local public school would like to have all three boys attending preschool there four days a week. Hayden and Noel would be considered "typical" students. This would be perfect since then Hayden and Noel could ride the bus with Tanner each day, too.
Now, what you have been waiting for -- the pictures of Tanner heading off to preschool all by himself! He was such a brave, big boy!