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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Preschool Difference, an Amazing Difference!

So, tonight was our first mainstream preschool open house night for our little man. I have to admit that I was nervous for Thomas and our family. I wanted the evening to go well; and more than anything for Thomas to be proud of the work that he has done over the past 6 weeks.

Like the Griswalds,we loaded up the family truckster and headed out to The Light of the World, Thomas' mainstream preschool. We were all there, Sean, Sidney, Thomas and me. We have been working of answering "where" questions and searched for pumpkins on the way to school. We kept hearing Thomas from the backseat say, "Pumpkins, where are you?" and "There you are." while pointing to the random pumpkins in the neighborhood. Then we drove by the construction site of the new Kroger Marketplace (can I get a yea! from all the Mommies out there in blog land?). Thomas said "hi" to the all the construction vehicles, by name. When we came upon the school, he was visibly excited to show his Dad and sister his school. He proudly announced, "that's my school!" as we turned into the parking lot.

We all got out of the truckster (not a paneled station wagon) and headed into school. I told Thomas to grab Sidney's hand and show her where his class was. I wish that I had my camera with me as Thomas took Sidney's hand and headed down the hallway. We arrived at his classroom and he immediately walked in and said, "Hi, Ms. Adrienne." He took his picture off the table and put it in the chart by his written name.

Sean then picked him up and they searched for his picture frame hanging from the ceiling. All the parents and children then began to review the start to the day. The kids were called over to the circle-time carpet to begin the session. Thomas heard the teacher say it was time to begin and he ran, not walked to the carpet. He sat down on his bottom and was ready to go (my eyes were already starting to tear up). We began the session with the song welcoming everyone to school, counting everyone present. Thomas didn't really get into the song other than clapping as appropriate. My heart sank a little bit.

Then, we moved on to the weather song and Thomas sang every single heart soared. From there, we moved onto the days of the week, color and shape of the week work. I was again nervous because Thomas was chosen as the child to hold the pointer and help with the songs and identification. A large bit of me was concerned that Thomas would take the pointer and beat every child in class. Amazingly, he took the pointer and pointed to the days of the week as we sang the song. Then, he pointed to the color pink and awaited a response from everyone to identify the color. Ms. Adrienne said, "that's pink." He then said, "hey, that's pink." Then she asked Thomas to point to the color that is the same as a pumpkin. Thomas pointed to the color orange...then he walked over to the pumpkin pointed to it and said, "its the same." We then moved on to the triangle which wasn't that impressive, he simply mimicked the words said.

As we moved through the Alfie, being polite dragon, Thomas kept saying give one to Daddy, give one to Sidney and give one to Mommy (yes, I was the last on the list). Then we moved onto Peek-a-boo bunny. This is the bunny that tells the children the letter of the week. When Ms. Adrienne asked the kids, "what is this animal?" Thomas yelled, "It's a bunny!" Then she showed the children the letter and asked, "what is this letter?" Thomas yelled before any other child, "It's G!"

After this, we closed the session. All the parents exchanged pleasantries and I got to talk for a bit with Thomas' teacher about his FM system. Ms. Adrienne, Thomas' teacher, is a wonderful, amazing, gifted woman...I sooooooooo love her!

As a parent of a special needs child, you want your child to succeed. You want EVERYTHING for them...acceptance, love, friendship, etc. You want the world, you pray for the world.

Well, tonight we got the world. We got more than the world, we got Heaven, too. Sean and I both gave thanks to God for everything, the financial ability for me to stay home, the gift of Thomas' amazing preschool and his more than amazing teachers, the joy of Sidney and her ability to be proud of her brother, the brilliance of being able to sit back one night and sigh...saying that, "Wow, Thomas is doing great. We should be thankful for his preschool, for everything and everyone that got us here." Praise be to God for Becky, Bari, Dr. B, Angie, Tami, Tamarah, Meredith and countless others.

I so appreciate the fact that Thomas is in a mainstream preschool...and I don't want to ever take that for granted. What amazing difference preschool makes!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Yes, We Are Still Alive...

It has been entirely too long since I've written a post. I can't provide a good excuse for why I've not written in months, other than the fact that life has been absolutely crazy. I always say that someday it will slow down, but realize it won't cease being chaotic until my children are off to college.

Since it has been far too long since I've written, I figured that I'd provide an update on how Thomas is doing. His summer was filled with fun in the hot Texas sun. We blew lots of bubbles, swam a ton and even made a homemade water slide in the back yard. Below is one of the many pictures I took of Thomas enjoying the water.

We also took a trip to Fort Smith, Arkansas to visit my family for a few days. To say that the kids had a great time, would be an understatement. One evening, my father decided to imitate the "Pants on the Ground" singer from American Idol. Below is a picture of Thomas getting in on the action.

We also spent one day at the lake. My kids have turned into such fish. Thomas only got out of the water to eat a little lunch, really it was only a few bites, and ride in the boat. Once he saw his big sister ride on the tube behind the boat, he had to do it, too. So, I got on the tube with him. Luckily, my father was nice and didn't whip us out of the wake as he did with the other kids. I believe that Thomas was the second child to jump off of the dock and the last child out of the water. A big thank you to Uncle Bill and Aunt Lucy for letting us use the dock and boats. The kids will remember this day for the rest of their lives.

Also over the summer, Thomas graduated from his first therapy, OT. When Ms. Angie, his wonderful therapist, told me that he had accomplished all of his goals and that he was ready to be discharged, I about passed out. As a mom of a special needs kiddo, you expect years and years of therapy appointments. I was just shocked to learn that Thomas was ready to manage his sensory integration issues with a home program only. I owe a big thank you to Ms. Angie! She was so great with Thomas, pushing him when he needed to be pushed, working with him to reinforce the weekly language goals that our AVT had for him, and more than anything loving our little man.

Once summer was over, we started back into the school routine. We made some adjustments to Thomas' schedule by pulling him out of the Hearing School of the Southwest. At first, this was a difficult decision for me to make, but my gut was telling me that it wasn't the right place for him at this stage in his development. Then, the Lord stepped in and helped me understand that He had some changes for Thomas and that I should follow the path He laid out before me. I'm so glad that I finally listened to God because Thomas is thriving! He attends a mainstream preschool three mornings a week. Ms. Adrienne is his lead teacher and she has the most wonderful voice quality, a sing-song melody of language with a "drama mama" quality. Thomas loves, loves, loves, loves school. He grabs his backpack and snack bag and runs to the car singing the "Going to School" song the whole time. Here is a picture of Thomas on his very first day of preschool.

The biggest thing so far this year though has been Thomas' 3rd birthday. We had these big plans for a party with friends, one of those big blow up slides, and a Thomas the Tank Engine birthday cake. Ms. Becky, our astonishing cert AVT, worked with us for weeks to help Thomas understand that his birthday was coming. We read books about it, celebrated various stuffed animals/puppets birthdays with pretend cake and ice cream, and sang the "Happy Birthday" song every day to the puppet that was celebrating their birthday. Thomas really and truly understood that his birthday was on Saturday. Then, plans changed because Thomas came down with a horrible stomach flu the day before his birthday. We had to cancel the party and Thomas spent most of his birthday asleep or laying on the couch with Sean. Oh well, we still sang happy birthday, opened presents and he blew out his candles. When you ask him how old he is, he will proudly tell you, "I am three."

He did get to celebrate his birthday at school and received a birthday blessing. Here are a couple pictures of Thomas at his school celebration.

So at three years of age here is where Thomas is in his development:

He weighs 34 pounds (75th percentile).

He is 38" tall (75th percentile).

His favorite food is still hash brown potatoes.

His favorite song to sing is a toss up between the ABCs and Going on a Picnic.

His favorite color is purple (much to the pride of Ms. Becky because of her love for TCU).

His favorite animal is the chetah.

He will happily count to 15 for you.

His favorite game is hide and seek. For his birthday, we bought him this monkey that makes sound when you push a remote control. It has been a wonderful toy to help him learn to better locate sound and he says, "Monkey, where are you?" and "There you are."

His favorite TV show is Thomas the Tank Engine, although Veggie Tales is a close second (he loves the theme song and will proudly sing it for you, if you ask)

He has had a good map for about 6 months now and hears bilaterally within the normal range. Oh, and he loves to whisper.

He is saying approximately 3-3.5 words per sentence.

He uses his "s" for plurals and possessives, and "ing" for action words.

His favorite person is still his daddy, although his sister comes in a close second.

Whew, I promise that I will write more often this fall. My next post will at least be after Halloween, when our little man will turn into the Cat in the Hat.