Sunday, August 10, 2008

Joey Gets "Accepted" to Nursery School!

This is such exciting news! After our experience with the last nursery school we tried to register him with, I was a little on edge when exploring different options. I ended up calling one of the oldest nursery schools in our city and immediately I could tell this one was going to be different. When I spoke to the registrar her immediate attitude wasn't one of "I don't know if we can do this", it was more like "let's see how we CAN do this". She spoke to me at length about what Joey's needs are, and told me she'd speak to the head teacher and get back to me. Within a week it was all sorted out and I had the registration package in my hands! They are willing to do a bit of a trial...Joey will be 2.5 years old on October 1st and that is the youngest a child can be to attend nursery school. So, we're doing a one-month trial for October, with Joey going once a week. Grandma Phyllis will be his mediator, so he will have the one-on-one support he needs. If it all goes well he will attend twice a week starting in November. It's the perfect way to begin exposing him to larger groups of kids his own age, and perhaps it will stimulate him to want to "copy" his classmates.

I'm trying not to place unrealistic expectations on this new experience. Joey is definitely more comfortable around other kids now than he was a year ago but their squeals, babbling and other assorted noises still really bother him and cause him to cry. It's entirely possible that he is not quite ready for this and we may have to withdraw after October and try again in a few months, but I am so happy for the opportunity to at least try.

I'm adding a video clip of Joey playing with his little friend Ava, who is 11 months old. You can see his facial expression start to change once she starts to make noises. I didn't actually capture it in the video but he did start to cry after a little while of Ava babbling, and once that starts it doesn't really stop until I remove him from the situation. His tolerance has increased though; 6 months ago the crying would have started within 5 minutes, but this time he held off for about half an hour. But I'll also post a picture of the two of them when we first arrived, and they were smiling at each other and at one point Ava laughed and Joey laughed with her. HUGE improvement for him!

Tomorrow Joey is having what's called a Bayley Assessment. It's a testing tool used to determine where he is developmentally. Here's a description of it:

The full name of the test is Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development,.The child is asked to do a number of activities to see if their thinking, language, and moving (sitting, walking) skills are similar to children their own age. The Bayley-III has three major parts that are tested with the child: Cognitive, Language, and Motor. The parent completes a Questionnaire that looks at the child's Social-Emotional and Adaptive Behavior development. The scores that come from the assessment indicate how well the child performed compared to a group of children within the same age range.

I'm a bit nervous...apparently it takes 2-3 hours to complete, and if Joey doesn't appear to be "in the mood" they will reschedule all or part of the testing. It's all done through play and other social interaction, so it should be fun for him, but the person coming to the house to do the test is someone Joey has never met, which could pose a bit of a challenge. I've already been warned that sometimes the results can be a bit emotional for parents. Some parents are shocked by the level at which their child is functioning and it can be a bit depressing to see it on paper. I can't imagine I'll be shocked, I already know he functions at a 6-9 month old level in most areas. I suppose it they told me he was at a 3-month-old level it would throw me for a loop, but I really can't imagine that would be the case. If all goes well tomorrow we should have a written report in about 2 weeks. I think having that report would be very helpful to the nursery school and anyone else involved in Joey's care. Since we don't have a definitive diagnosis it's really hard to describe Joey and his needs/abilities to other people, so I think this will be very useful. Wish us luck!

- P, J & J

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