It is February and I have a four year-old, which in these parts mean one thing: SCHOOL. I know it's different across the country and everywhere else, but here our kids start Junior Kindergarten (JK) September of the year they turn 4, which means it is now time to register my boy. It's optional, I can wait until Senior Kindergarten (SK) or even grade one, I think. But I don't want to, he's ready for this.
Step One is registration. This happens right now. It involves contacting the school for a registration package and tour of the school, which we didn't need because the girls go to the school and I've been there enough. If your child is like most children, you drop off the paperwork and that's the end of it until the orientation stuff happens later in the year. If you're child is like Kingsley, you have to casually mention that to the school secretary. It's hard to be casual. We get to fill out all of the paperwork and then move on to step two.
Step Two is a meeting with the principal. The school secretary is going to call us back with a time. I'm told this is more of a casual meeting, just to feel things out and understand who Kingsley is.
Step Three is a big meeting with all of Kingsley's people and all of the school's people. We discuss what he will need to be successful in school and then how that will all be put in place, so I'm told.
I am not all that concerned at this point. Kingsley's needs are pretty straightforward:
* he needs a barrier-free environment, which the school is as far as I can tell
* he needs help with his bathroom business and medicine during lunch hour
* he needs someone to transfer him from his wheels to the floor or to a chair and then back whenever he wants
* he needs a chair at table height that is adapted somehow so that he can sit stably to do seat work and eat comfortably
* he needs someone to help him with his outdoor clothes, especially in winter and possibly help him navigate through recess
* as of now, he needs someone to make sure he eats, drinks, and doesn't choke or puke; this could change if he just decides eating is cool
The school should be able to figure all of that out. We are hoping that there will be an EA (educational assistant) in the room to help with the transfers and transitions to/from outside and hopefully with snacks/lunch and recess. I have no idea how the bathroom/medicine stuff works, but it will be figured out. Kingsely's current PT will help get the chair ready by September.
I have homework to do in the meantime. First, I have to figure out how to answer all of this paperwork. There are so many questions that don't have simple answers. Second, I have to make one of those All About Me books for Kingsley - an easy-to-read book discussing Kingsley's strengths, interests, diagnosis, needs, and whatever else I think his school should know about him. I have seen fabulous ones that are super creative. I am not creative. This will take some figuring out.
In the meantime, we are still in the depths of winter and up to our eyeballs in snow. It warmed up enough that I was able to take Kingsley out to play in the snow today, which he loves.
Sunday, January 5, 2014
The other day, in the midst of holiday chaos, Kingsley dripped something on his shirt. This upset him. He wanted a new shirt. I was busy.
Before that moment, the ridiculousness of such a scenario had never occurred to me. I (we all) had just fallen into that dreaded trap I swore I would never let happen: we were babying Kingsley. At that moment of frustration and annoyance, I looked at my nearly-four-year-old boy and said the most obvious thing...
"Go get it yourself."
Despite the fact that we had built a completely accessible home, with an accessible bedroom, with an accessible closet that had low shelves and racks that he could access, I had just never before let him get his own shirt. How silly of me.
That day, I showed him how to open his closet, pick a shirt, and take it off the hanger. Something my girls could do by the time they were two years old.
Then came the next conundrum: he couldn't take off his shirt. Or put on the new one. I've been talking about teaching him how to do this, but always said I didn't know HOW. How do I teach a kid to put on a shirt while he's sitting on a chair? Enough wondering, we started working on it, figuring it out together.
Today, Kingsley took off his PJ top and his undershirt all by himself. He was proud. I was proud. Another random milestone.
My kid took off his own shirt.
Who would've thought something so simple would give me so much joy?
Next on our list is brushing his teeth. More excuses from me: he can't reach the sink. We brush his teeth while he's having other things done. It's another thing I have to stop and do everyday, but it will be worth it. And, really, it's past time for this stuff.
So, I put him in his wheelchair, put a cup of water and his brush and paste on the counter and let him go. He dips his brush, opens the (Thomas, fluoride-free) toothpaste, puts some on the brush, then closes it. We each take a turn brushing, then he rinses the brush in the cup, lines everything up and carries on with whatever we're doing. He loves it.
He's also able to be more independent in the bath, now that they aren't power-baths, trying to get him clean in the 30 seconds before he poops ;) We have time to let him wash his own body, help wash his hair... Basic stuff. Important stuff.
Kingsley is turning four soon. Very soon. Time to let him grow up.