Ezra,  Special Needs Parenting,  The Preschool Years

Believing in my son {an update}

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In just over two weeks, our son will be graduating from his inpatient behavioral therapy program.

{If you are new around here, check out Ezra’s story for more information.}

I just finished filling out enrollment forms which I will drop off at the elementary school around the corner.

The first time we sat down with Ezra’s social worker and his “Person Centered Profile” (PCP), one of our goals as parents was that we were to identify a desired school for post-discharge placement within the first 60 days of his treatment. While this goal was mildly overwhelming, the team was supportive of talking us through our options.

In December, they estimated Ezra’s transition date as sometime mid-spring, most likely April. So it’s not like we haven’t seen this coming.

In January, I focused heavily on looking into our school options both for preschool and for summer programs, touring over nine different private schools and preschools within the month. We found a wonderful private preschool that we felt would be a good option for Ezra, although their program offering was only half-day. We also had Ezra go through another intake evaluation with our public school district to see if he would qualify for special education services. (He was denied services a year ago because his delays were not significant enough to qualify.)

I sat there across from the same women and evaluators we had seen a year ago. This time, I was armed with pages and pages of Ezra’s PCP, occupational therapy evaluations, speech evaluations, and so much more. Also attending with us was Ezra’s preschool teacher from his therapy program, who advocated for us by explaining how Ezra’s behavior affects his learning in the classroom.

A month later (late February), we had an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting with the school district. At this meeting, they told us that they had designated Ezra as having a “Developmental Delay – Atypical” for his behavior problems, qualifying him to receive special education services through the school district. His IEP was detailed and demonstrated that they had a very good understanding of what his needs are, as well as what his strengths are. They assigned him to a special education (“exceptional children”) preschool classroom at a local elementary school. This class would offer all-day specialized instruction with occupational therapy support.

We visited the school, which happens to be less than a mile from our home, and felt like this was the right decision. They told us that they would be ready for Ezra as soon as he was released from inpatient therapy.

And now here we are. Today we received a discharge date for therapy, and Ezra will be starting at his new school after the school district’s spring break.

Ezra will also be able to continue with private outpatient occupational therapy and we will be starting family play therapy mid-April.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t overwhelmed and a little freaked. We’ve known he couldn’t stay inpatient forever, but now that we are here, I don’t feel ready.

We’ve made so much progress. And I say we because it’s not just Ezra who has changed. It’s me. It’s Russ. It’s our marriage. It’s the way we parent and communicate with not just him, but with each other.

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But I look ahead and I still see so much we have yet to improve on. To “fix,” if you will. To heal from. To get through.

And then there’s all. the. changes.

Ezra will go from his inpatient therapy program to his new class at this new school, where he will stay until mid-June. Then we will send him to a 4-week summer camp at the private preschool that we loved. Then he will be home with me for about 6 weeks. Then, he will move up to a new special-needs class in the fall. Oh, and new baby is due two days after the fall 2015 school year starts.

It’s going to be one wild ride for the next six months. I’m worried about how we will handle all the changes. I’m worried we will see regression in big ways.

Our social worker told me this: “Planning is good and worrying about the transitions normal. Just want you to believe in yourself and your support system- in Ezra too.”

Something about the way she said it made me stop and think. Maybe in all of this fighting for support and helping Ezra with his needs, I’ve started to short-change him. To forget his capabilities. Maybe I’ve stopped believing in my son.

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Yesterday after school, we drove by his new school and talked about the new transition. I asked him how he felt.

“I’m feeling kind of scared. Because everything is going to be different at my new school.”

believe in Ezra 3

Then we went to the park, where he played happily with other children. I never had to correct him for hitting or spitting or saying mean things. He didn’t have any meltdowns when it was time to leave.

When we got home, we found out an out-of-town friend was in town with his wife and three kids. So we ordered pizzas and hosted. There were four kids under the age of seven in our basement. And yes, there was a lot of screaming. And a few scuffles. And redirection. And one time when we had to bring Ezra upstairs to calm down.

But there was also twenty minutes when he sat there with the other kids, playing playdough, sharing, chatting, and just being a typical kid.

“Believe in Ezra…” I heard the words again in my head as I watched them all.

And in spite of the late night, the waking up twice in the middle of the night, and the early rising – we had a relatively peaceful morning this morning. He proudly told me how he did “the special thing that you like” (putting on his shirt by himself) and worked on tracing letters when he wasn’t ready to brush his teeth.

So I have to remember how far we’ve come.

It’s gonna be all right. Somehow or other. It just will.

believe in Ezra

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