On Thursday I was lucky to have the opportunity to see Emily during school. Parents were invited to spend an hour in the classroom with their child to see what a typical day is like. I don't ever remember my schools doing this when I was young, and what a shame! I learned so much more in that one hour than from all of the notes home and parent conferences combined. A lot of the time I feel a little out of the loop when it comes to her education, since the bus takes her and I rarely step inside her classroom. This was a most welcome opportunity. Emily showed me her favorite puzzles, painted me a picture, and showed off on the fancy computer equipment they have for classroom activity time. After seeing all of the resources on hand for Emily and her peers, it is little surprise that she is making so many strides.
Emily and a friend painting. Everyday the kids have a free-play period, and at least 2 times a week Emily chooses art.
Here Emily is sitting on the pillow while the other children take their turn on the big computer, and then it was her turn. She had to pick a letter (she picked "E"), and then she played a matching game in which she dragged and dropped the letters across the board.
In addition to having fun playing with Emily, I got the chance to see how her classroom is run. All I can say is that Emily has an amazing team of teachers and specialists working on her behalf, and I am so truly grateful. In addition to her teacher Mrs. Mack, there are 2 classroom helpers that just adore the kids. There are 3 adults and 10 kids. This may seem like a lot, but remember most of these kids have severe delays. Some can't talk, one little boy was in a wheelchair, and most aren't potty trained. A lot of one-on-one time is needed just for the simple things. There is also a speech therapist and a occupational therapist on site working with all of the Early Childhood classrooms (Em is in one of three or four classes). They all tell me that they are pleased with her progress.
Speaking of progress, Ryan and I have noted two major changes in Emily over the past few weeks. After swimming at Shane's birthday party in late January, Emily told me about "the beach". Since then, she has slowly but surly begun talking about events in her recent past. Ladies and gents, this is simply amazing!!! She has never really shown an understanding for much outside of the present moment. Out of sight, out of mind. But not anymore! The only thing that is slightly confusing is that she hasn't mastered the idea of past tense verbs yet, so we have to decipher what she's talking about based on our understanding of her day. For example, when Ryan came home for lunch she said "I peed my pants!" I was shocked, because she had peed in her pants earlier that morning and I couldn't believe she had done it twice. Well, she hadn't. She was just sharing the events of her day. When we got home from the zoo, she said, "Animals! Zoo animals!". No verbs there, but again she was telling her Dad about something she had seen rather than what was in the room.
The other big-to-do involves potty training. She is still not trained by any stretch of the imagination. I have thus concluded that, in addition to not being able to hold a pencil with the correct grasp, she can't fully control all the muscles needed in order to use the toilet like the rest of us. She is in underpants during the day, but we set a timer and put her on the potty at the prescribed time. As noted above, an extra helping of juice can put the schedule out of whack. Oh my poor floors. Anyhow, there has been progress, and now I am hopeful she will be potty trained by her 5th birthday (that is sadly not an exaggeration, its realistic). Twice in the past week Emily has said, "I pooped my pants" but actually meant she needed to go. She has come up to me before the accident and used the potty. Again, there is a bit of a language barrier because she doesn't understand tenses, but the idea got across nonetheless. I am thrilled. Someday I will not be changing her diapers or mopping puddles off the floor.
Emily's progress is off the charts. I wish some of her first therapists could see her now. They wouldn't recognize this social, imaginative, almost-chatty, sweet girl. I am so happy for Emily, and blessed to have such amazing teachers in our life. I know I couldn't raise her properly without their help, love, and support.