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Special Ed. Preschool

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Hello mama friends. I am wondering if any of you have any experience w/special ed. preschool. My just 3 yr. old ds had a speech eval. that found him to be delayed somewhat in receptive & expressive language. He speaks clearly & in sentances, can repeat anything you say, but does not engage in conversations. For example, if you ask him a question he will usually just repeat the question back, as opposed to answering it. The evaluators (Early Intervention) recommended the special ed. preschool program at our public school. We have gone four times so far, 2 1/2 hours twice a week. The teachers, speech therapists, etc. are very nice & supportive. But here is my concern - there are 6 children in the class, 1 teacher, 1 aid, and all but 1 of the children have significantly more special ed. needs than my ds. I am concerned that this environment may defeat the purpose of him attending preschool (i.e. improving speech through peer interaction, when only one of the children speaks well, helping him w/"adaptive skills" & "social skills" when he is one of the highest functioning in the class). I can provide an example that may highlight my concern - during circle time/story time only one child would sit for the story, while the other 5 hid under the table, chose their own play, etc.

An additional issue is that ds needs me there w/him to feel safe. (I left once for about 1/2 hour and he became hysterical.) I do not mind attending, and help out in the class while I am there, but I am just uncertain if this is the best thing for him. Would he gain more skills being w/children who can role model them? Will his behavior regress being around children who are so far behind?
Any feedback would be appreciated. I would especially like to hear about any experiences w/special ed. preschool. thank you mamas.
post #2 of 23
Welcome to the worls of special needs parenting! My son did attend a special ed preschool program, and some of the concerns that you have were also concerns of mine. My son was one of the higher functioning children in the class,(and sometimes I don't wonder if all we parents think the same thing about our children) but really what helps their speech is not peer interraction it's the interraction form the speech therapists and teachers. It's like being in a really long speech session (if it's a good class) because they are constantly doing things to encourage and model appropriate speech. As a higher functioning child, he may be able to bring some of those other kids into a social realm with him- this is what happened to my son. By the end of the year he had two friends (one of whom is still a good friend of his 4 years later) As his attendance becomes more regular, he may need you there less, or you may choose to keep going with him. There are definately benefits to both options. Now if you really feel that a "normal" class would benefit him more, and that he could function there, that IS an option. The school district won't tell you this, but if their class is not an appropriate placement and you can find a preschool this is- they have to pay for him to go there. One thing you may want to look into is Head Start. We used Head Start as my son's placement the second year of preschool. It was a wonderful program, and since they are required to have a certain percentage of kids with special needs they were used to working both with children with special needs and with the school district. They had an aid specifically for him in the class, prepared special meals for him due to allergies, and the school district provided his own bus as transportation (every child with special needs is entitled to transportation- all you have to do is ask). You may also want to ask about othger classes available- I assume this is the class closest to you, but most districts have many classes, some with specifics model types or for specific disabilities. There may be a class that is centered around speech problems that may be a better fit for your son- ask the district. My post is kind of hodge podgey and jumpy, but I hope it helps. Feel free to PM me.
post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thank you for the info. khrisday. That gives me some things to think about. Also, I agree about each parent thinking their child is the highest functioning. I know I am biased about my sweet boy.
post #4 of 23
Hi khrisday - re: your statement "The school district won't tell you this, but if their class is not an appropriate placement and you can find a preschool this is- they have to pay for him to go there. "
What school district is this? From my understanding, this is not at all true. Preschool is not required, so they have no obligation to pay for private preschool. If there is a developmental disability then they are required to pay for an aid to accompany the child in regular preschool, but they don't pay for the preschool itself! Have you experienced otherwise? Perhaps it depends on the district.

I am dealing with this now as I am attending an IEP for my son on Tuesday. I do not want him in the special ed. preschool as this is not an appropriate placement for him; they do not have any classes where kids are not speech/language disabled, and my son is not speech/lang. disabled, he just has seizures. His problems are not developmental; only safety. He would be totally underchallenged, bored, and frustrated in their school, and as you (HRM) said so well, this environment defeats the purpose of attending preschool.

In general I am all for mainstreaming whenever possible. I don't think children with disabilities should be ostracized from society by being placed in a special school. It is important for children without disabilities to learn from children who have them, by being around them. As adults they will need to funciton side by side with them. I don't want my son to feel that he has to be in a "special" school just because he has seizures. He is just like any other kid, as is yours. We all have our differences and unique challenges, his happen to be seizures.

Sorry if I'm going off. I'm frustrated with this right now as the COE wants to put my kid in this "fishbowl" environment, as they call it, so they can carefully observe his development. I think this is ridiculous, what good does it do to "observe" development if you are not supporting that development?
post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 
Mama Lori, I am sorry to hear about your son's seizures & your struggles w/the school department. But I thank you for sharing your opinions & experiences on the matter. Any info. I can get is helpful. Good luck w/the i.e.p. and let us know how it turns out. Also *stick to your guns* You know what is right for your son.
post #6 of 23

I don't have a child with speech issues, but I appreciate your concerns and your struggles. One thing I have noticed in my area is a strong emphasis on blending the preschool program so that there are equal numbers of children with no issues, with children who have delays or at risk issues. My daughter goes to the preschool in town like this. There are a few kids with issues in the class, and most of the children do not have issues. I think the staff are more highly trained because it is the early intervention program, and my daughter gets to benefit from their high level of skill. And the children with issues get much contact with children that are differently abled.

With my other hat on (a child mental health clinician), I was wondering if the evaluation you had done was thorough. One of my concerns is that sometimes a child will be assessed by speech and language folks as having a speech issue, while an assessor in the mental health field would come up with something else. I am not trying to cause any new worries, but there are some issues on the autism spectrum that can cause the type of speech (repeating and not conversing) issue you are describing. The only reason I bring it up at all is because there is a "state of the art" education/treatmentfor dealing with autism spectrum disorders and early intervention is critical-- the earlier the intervention, the more improvement, at times. In my area the special ed. staff seem reluctant to lead parents in that direction because it can be alarming to some parents; yet without the right kind of intervention, the child does not have as fair a shot at getting better. Sometimes this state of the art intervention can be costly and schools do not always "want to" discover autism issues because of the cost. I am not saying this is true of your district.

So, I'm not trying to alarm you. Let me know if you want any more info. If it's already been ruled out, then you're surely on the right track.

Truly good wishes to you!
post #7 of 23
Mama Lori,
Like I said, they won't tell you. YES they did pay for my child to attend a regular preschool, as different school disctricts all over the country have for other children that I know of. We went the easy was and opted for Head Start because the school is much more willing to pay for that program due to long standing collaboration with them. The problem is that you have to PROVE that their classes are not appropriate for them to be liable to pay usually, which means going into fair hearing usually. Lori- get in touch with Matrix, they have a Novato office, they can help you with this.
post #8 of 23

speech issues

I have a son who had a severe speech delay. He talks fine now, is a reader, and loves math! We are a homeschool family, but haven't always been. My sons speech delay was the impetus to have me look into alternatives.
I investigated the preschool special ed. class. It didn't seem right. After agonizing over the decision, he didn't go. The interaction with his own family, the many books we read, and a zillion other things helped.
Can I reccomend a book that literally changed my path? "The Einstein Syndrome". You will know immediately if you fit into this category. "Experts" hate this book and parents love it. I belong to a parent group of late talkers. Its a pretty specific target group, but please take a look.
Don't thing you are automatically 'special needs' because of late talking. Three years old is very young, and many of these children are labeled unneccesarily.
You can look on the Amazon website, read about the book, and the comments from readers to get a feel. I have posted there too.
Good luck!
post #9 of 23
Thread Starter 
Hi Velveteen. Thank you for your reply. I will definately read this book. Can you share more about your child's speech delay, i.e. what the delay was, what things you used to work on it, when he seemed to catch up. I agree that a speech delay does not necessarily mean special needs (one of my concerns w/the spec. ed. preschool), and 3 is very young. (He just turned 3 in Dec.) I am trying to work on this at home as much as we can, so I appreciate your feedback.

And hi Lauren. I also appreciate your feedback, although I feel quite confident that my son is not autistic. He demonstrates an ability to engage in loving & social relationships, makes appropriate eye contact, he can answer many questions (and continues to improve in this area). However, just to be on the safe side, I will investigate this further as well.

Mama friends, you have been great. Please keep the info. coming!
post #10 of 23
Hello HRM
Ds's delay was speech period. He did not talk until he was four years old. I had a cool Dr., who had a son who talked late too, so that helped. Ds is six now, you would NEVER know he had a speech delay. Dr. emphasized that we learn speech by being immersed in it. We have always been a family that loves books and ds has always been sitting in on the hours of reading. Mary Pride has a book called "The Big Book of Home Learning", and it had a speech resource in it. I think it's called "Help me say my R's Right" There's another one with a similiar name, sorry can't be more specific. It's meant for motivated parents to work with their children at home. Truth is, time was the telling factor.
If you would like to PM me, I would be happy to give you more details.
Ds's vocabulary in constantly increasing also, it is so great to hear him say really descriptive things now. I also have a son 2.4 with the same challenge. Having learned a great deal from the last son, we were better equipped to deal with it. Thomas Sowell is the author of "The Einstein Syndrome", I really want you to take a look at the book...please let me know what you think!
I would also really reccomend sign language. I started from scratch, just like my smallest ds. He would wow you with his signs! People cant' get over it when he signs. His speech is really starting to take off, even this week, so I guess the wait won't be as long this time. I never began with the idea of learning tons, just enough to ease everyday life. But, ds learns so quickly that we have surpassed my wildest dreams with it. Plus, the other three kids know it too! Just ordered another VHS from "Signing Time". Amazon carries it, and I really feel it is one of the best. Go for it! Learn a little, and it will help your days. Amazon carries only one tape, so you can go directly to their website. It is proven that sign language increases vocabulary and can even ease two year old tantrums, so there is nothing to lose!
Hope this helps......
post #11 of 23
Thread Starter 

Here is the latest and definately far from greatest on the preschool front - I just recieved a message from the teacher. She wants me to begin leaving ds at the entrance to the school, to be met by an aid, and pick him up again there after school. Mind you, the one time I did leave him at preschool, for about 1/2 hour, he became so hysterical that once I returned I couldn't calm him down until we left. Then the next time we went, he started crying as soon as we walked in. Now, each day before school he asks me if I am going to stay w/him. IMO he is NOT ready to be just left at the door. He has only attended 5 days, and has never been left outside the home w/out a family member. My plan was to gradually leave him there, a few minutes at a time, buiding up, until he is comfortable. So, this may be the deciding factor. If the school insists on my abruptly leaving him, I will seek other alternatives. What do you think mamas?
post #12 of 23
Dear HRM
Have you thought about private therapy? This might not be 'free', but then again, the ps is going to cost in other ways. Three is so young to be away like that!
I have a back issue of Home Education magazine that had an article on a young one that also was a late talker.We are not so rare as one might think. I can look up the article if you like, feel free to pm me.
Thinking of you and your sweet boy.
post #13 of 23

I think you shoudl call the treacher back and expleain to her that you are planning on attending with your son as he is not ready to be away from you and see how she reacts to it. They will expect you to leave him because that's the "norm" but if let them know that you are not interested in woarking him inot being there alone they may be more open to that.

Your health insurance may pay for sp[eech therapy, and there are also programs where he can free/sliding scale therapy as well. The Scottish Rites Masons have speech and language centers which provite evaluations and therapy on a sliding scale, and the Californisa Hawaiian Elks have a speech program as well. Get in touch with someone in your community that is knowledgeable about programs in your area- perhaps Easter Seals?

I know there is a lot of talk about the "late talker" thing, and giving kids time to develop, etc, but you said that your son has problems in comprehension as well so I don't think this is the case with him JMHO.
post #14 of 23
Many programs that offer early intervention offer a home visiting component, where they would work with him at home. If he qualifies for special ed. they have to provide him with what he needs; if he's not ready for their environment, they need to provide it somewhere else; or make accommodations so that you are there with him until he is comfortable. I would seriously question any program that forces separation for a 3 yr. old who is that upset.
post #15 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for your support & information. I had a good talk w/the teacher today & we agreed that it would be best for me to stay in the class w/ds while he adjusts. We came up w/a plan that works for both of us to ease ds's transition. Between this & all your feedback I feel much better about the situation - more empowered, informed, & less overwhelmed.

With much appreciation, HRM
post #16 of 23
So happy for you! Keep us posted!

post #17 of 23
We had a similiar situation with our ds#2, he was in an early intervention special ed program when he was 3-4 also. Our problem with me leaving was not sep. anxiety issues but related more to his stress about communicating needs and toliet training. My son did not begin to talk till he was 4. He had almost 6 yrs of speech therapy so if you want to pm me about it I would be happy to share ideas. If you have an active IEP with goals set and your child has been reccomended speech or OT the public school should provide this therapy in the setting of your choice.
I am really surprised that they felt your ds would not disrupt the class by crying especially if there are other high needs kids, they are very sympathetic/pick up on each others vibes and I have watched one crying child get a small group into chaos quickly. As a former teacher ,I think it would be easier on everyone to make the transition slow and happy rather then have school be a place he associates with anxiety. Have you had your child evaluated by anyone else? We were able to have our health insurance pay for a lot. Have you had a complete auditory check (hearing)? Is the teacher providing you with therapy work related to IEP goals you and child can do together at home? For us we decided to eventually pull out of that and do speech therapy and ot (school had to provide this one on one with me there) and then have ds attend a playgroup & short park district preschool 2 afternoons a week to be around kids speaking normally. That helped much more then him being the highest functioning one in a group that had children with not only speech but severe physical difficulties. Also remember that at 3 yrs old a child's expressive speech growth & patterns can change dramatically in a matter of weeks with good speech therapy, so having ds revealuated before spring IEPs should be something the school will do willingly. And yes my ds copied other children's behaviors from ECE that took me a while to get him to stop repeating, he never did the point & grunt/whine or hit anyone or was bit till ECE started.
Good luck to you!
mom to ds14, ds9, ds5, dd3 yrs ( BTW my 3 yr old would be labeled same as your ds with comm.disorder- but we are not doing ST for her based on experience we had)
post #18 of 23
Thread Starter 
Hello again friends. I thought I would share a little bit about ds's speech, in hopes that it will clarify my concerns and perhaps some of you will have suggestions about working on this. He has excellent articulation and can repeat anything that he hears. He speaks in sentances up to 5 or 6 words. He can answer simple questions, "What are you doing?" "What do you see?" "What color is that?" He follows directions well (for a 3 year old). He knows his colors, letters, numbers up to 10 without error, up to 20 w/assistance. He has an excellent memory, and knows all his favorite books by heart (even lengthy ones, such as Where the Wild Things Are). He has a sense of humor, is playful and loving. He is in the process of potty training. There are no behavioral concerns. The area that appears to be behind is his ability to engage in conversations. He rarely asks questions. He more often simply states what he wants. He is able to verbalize his needs quite well. There are questions that he does not answer, and I am often unsure if he is choosing not to answer or if he is not understanding. When Early Intervention evaluated him, 4 strangers came to our home, attempting to engage him in evaluative activities for about an hour. Of course they did not complete a thorough eval. in this one meeting, but they felt they had enough to recommend him to the special ed. preschool. We are in the process of completing ds's IEP and I am going to request a thorough speech eval, w/recommendations for school & home, diagnosis, etc. I would really appreciate any impressions you have about his speech pattern & recommendations for how I can work on this with him at home. Many thanks, HRM
post #19 of 23
Keep asking those questions, and if he doesn't asnwer model an answer for him. He may pick up and echo your answers for a while, but that's a step forward. Keep the conversation flowing, when he answers you with a clunker- ask another question to elicit more speech. When you're reading familair stories, leave words out for him to fill in. Label things wherever you go. Talk a LOT, but also give him a chance to answer as well.
post #20 of 23
Thanks for your articulate words about your child! I was wondering whether you consider him shy, perhaps not in the typical sense, but does he want to try new experiences cautiously, does he take his time with transitions and such? I think I might be overwhelmed and not test well if 3 new people came to my house at once!

One book that came to mind with your description was Stanley Greenspan's "The Challenging Child." I know the title might not seem to fit, but there is a great chapter in there on the child who does not converse easily (I think the chapter is called "The Self-Absorbed Child"-- again, not as in "selfish", but more inward directed than outward). Greenspan's books are very big on play strategies that help different types of children. This book has a chapter for each type of "challenging" child. It has been very helpful to me in working with young children professionally. Maybe it would be helpful to you.
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