Thursday, February 12, 2015

Placed Out

My very-soon-to-be-three-year-old placed out of speech services yesterday. And not even by a smidge like I'd worried he would. He scored a solid average in expressive language (which had been his weak area). He made 26 months of expressive language progress in 12 months.

I can't even light on an emotion. I've got 'em all. It's a strange thing, this placing out. It's not common in our circles. My daughter earned her special needs title when she was one, and she's now in a Kindergarten class with other children with special needs whose parents, like me, abandoned any for how long? thoughts long ago. The play group I've been attending with my son is full of toddlers who will be in the system for years.

I should be happy, right?

But I'm worried. I'm worried I'm missing something. I'm worried that he still parallel plays (is that normal?) or that he is still not what you'd call talkative (but maybe that's just his personality). I'm worried that I'm not advocating (that elusive skill I'm supposed to master) enough (though for what I'm not sure since his scores are all solid (see previous)).

The thing is, I'm comfortable in the world of families with children with special needs. I've made my home there, and I've discovered the invisible, unbreakable bond I have with the other parents in that group. It's safe; it's comfy. I don't really want to leave it, and I feel guilty about leaving it.

I can too, too easily imagine how the other parents feel to hear my son no longer qualifies for the county-sponsored play group. I'd be envious, I admit. Not because I think my child with special needs is lacking or less than, but because I'm jealous of the option of dropping all that baggage. All of a sudden, less preparation, less explanation, less paperwork.

And I am happy to place his special needs notebook on a storage shelf instead of the commonly used shelf next to my daughter's notebook and my sewing machine instruction manual. I'm pleased to have one fewer appointment to juggle. I'm thrilled he no longer carries a label other than his name.

But I can't seem to get happy. Maybe it's because I'm floundering without a home. I'm so used to special education being a reality for both my children, I can't adjust to it not. I've had the dickens of a time trying to figure out my feelings well enough to construct a coherent blog post.

I don't want to be told that this is a good thing because it sounds too much like my son has just jumped a hurdle and was previously lacking.

And I don't want my worries to be encouraged because...worries.

This one time I was confused and adrift because my child was no longer a special needs child. Of all the ironic things.


Hosts Kristi and Jennifer

29 comments :

  1. Beautifully stated, Sarah. You have a new normal to get used to.

    And the parallel play thing at his age? Perfectly normal.

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  2. OH NO my comment got eaten! Ugh.
    OK, I know I sent you a huge hug HUGE because I understand what you feel like. I felt much the same the day Zilla's counselor told us we don't need to meet with him regularly and to just call if and when we think we need him. WHAT???? It was like getting the car keys for the first time after passing my driver's test and suddenly it was me and the car and the road and no licensed adult driver seated in the passenger spot to help and support.
    It's a big deal, yes, and you'll find your way. It's one step in the long journey of life. One step at a time, one foot in front of the other. You'll get there.
    Oh, and by the way? FRIST!

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    1. Oh that Dyanne is on fire tonight. And I love what she said - the new normal. Yes.
      I forgot the parallel play thing. Not a month ago Zilla was doing that and the teacher was concerned. I think it's personality. Sometimes she just likes to do her own thing. I'll bet it's more that for Leo than anything else.

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    2. Why does that happen? Your comment helped. I realize that it's just that I'm adjusting to less support. That seems obvious now, but I hadn't quite gotten there.

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  3. Wow Sarah. I like Dyanne's comment above. A new normal makes perfect sense. We can apply that to all the biggest night and day changes in our lives. I hope that soon your new normal becomes as comfortable as the old one.

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    1. Yep, Dyanne lit right on it, didn't she? It's good to have a preschool teacher weigh in in this case!

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  4. Your feelings are understandable. My unsolicited advice: trust your mom gut. You know your child better than anyone, so try not to worry that you are missing something. I've had children dismissed from speech services: sometimes I agreed with the recommendation, another time I really did not. You will KNOW. (And Dyanne and Lisa gave you some great advice, too!)

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    1. Are you a speech therapist, Kristi?!?! I never knew that! You know that placing out doesn't always mean that the kid is ready to succeed without support. I know this too, and that's why I worry. Of course, he's not in school yet and not having to deal with testing. There's that.

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  5. Yes a new normal. Love that line. It is perfect. Your sentence that hit me full on was "I don't want to be told that this is a good thing because it sounds too much like my son has just jumped a hurdle and was previously lacking." I'll draw on this whenever a pal of mine shares similar info about her own kids. Thank you.

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    1. Wow, I'm so complimented that a line of mine was so meaningful. Yeah, it's weird being a special needs parent. Or, any parent, huh?

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  6. new normal yes, wonderful. But irony, is still a bitch.

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  7. I can completely relate. When Tucker advanced from PAC to non-cat preschool, I was happy for him but also sad because PAC was so comforting - I knew the program and I knew it worked. Now that he's in mainstream kindergarten with support, I'm still nervous and drifting...I'm not really sure where we fit in, if that makes sense. This figuring stuff out as we go is hard my friend.

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    1. Yep, but that's our lives. I take some comfort in that: this is my life and let me work on making it the best I can. Lisa really helped me see that I'm scared to have lost some support I counted on.

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  8. Oh Sarah... I can totally understand your feelings about this! Leaving your comfort zone is never ever easy! Change, although good, isn't easy either. But this is such wonderful news!! On the 'other side' of your safe world is another world ready and waiting for all that your boy has to give, and all that YOU have to give too. On the other side is amazing things for BOTH of you to take in, and experience for the better.

    It's scary... but like every other adjustment in life- it gets easier with every step into the unknown. Because it becomes 'known'.

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    1. I really am trying to see the good in it. And he made a ton of progress. It's like he suddenly made up his mind to talk. I just have to have the confidence in him and me without extra support.

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  9. I completely understand the fear and uncertainty of leaving your comfort zone, especially when you have a community there. And while your son won't get the support from special educators, he still will get it from you. You're a vigilant mama, and I know you'll do what you need to so that he can succeed.

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  10. You are a brave soul to accept and embrace it, and I would like to reiterate what the others said..."The new normal"

    xoxo

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    1. I need to focus on the extra free time. That's a definitely bonus!

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  11. So I understand your comfort in the special needs community, and how tentative it can feel with a child that might be able to work out things with just a bit of help. My oldest will need support for the rest of his life. My youngest needs help now, but is making lots of progress as he grows up. We still watch the little guy like a hawk, and see his problems and strengths, but it is satisfying to see him grow and develop. My wish is that you get that for your boy as well.

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    1. So you and I have similar situations. It's interesting to raise a second child with milder needs. I'm so vigilant that I'm constantly wondering if I'm being wise or hovering. And then I worry my son actually ends up getting less attention. But all parenting is hard; who am I kidding?

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  12. Beautiful words. Change is hard for me, too. My kids have some medical needs and I would give anything for these to poof and be gone but I do find some solace in the support and structure of all of the comings and goings. To have that go away would feel funny, even if the end result was positive.

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    1. Taking steps without someone's hand to hold. Riding a bike without training wheels. But it's all good to do.

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  13. I don't know if it's good or bad, but I am also worried when my son is told that he's better than average. Because then as soon as he slips, then I wonder if I'm not doing my best in parenting or it's him and I need some extra help. This parenting thing is hard and it sounds like your son is doing exceptional!

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    1. I understand that. We worry no matter the circumstance, don't we?

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  14. Thank you Sarah for sharing your feelings and fears around this news. I think when our children change it's challenging for us, not matter what the reason or the stage in life. As parents we have to constantly shift our perception of our kids and their world as they move along. The unknown/unfamiliar is scary. I sometimes feel this way about my almost teen daughter. She's becoming a whole new version of her self and I have to get used to it. It's really wonderful news though :)

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    1. Change is hard, as they say. And you're right that this situation can be distilled down to that.

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