A Journey with Love and Laughter

Read about our family as we journey through life as a family, with siblings, school and spina bifida, and lots of fun and laughter along the way!

Friday, November 2, 2012

School Daze

It is November, Halloween is done and the costumes are put back away (until our pirate party for Nick's birthday). It is time to think about school.

The idea of sending Nickolas to school has been a bit stressful for me. With all of the excitement with Katheryn starting kindergarten I tried to stifle the little voice that worried about Nick's journey next year. And when we visited the school for the September BBQ I could see how well Katheryn has adjusted, but also how there will be challenges for Nick. Everything from a single fully accessible door into the school (and a back door that has a ramp, but challenges actually fully accessing the ramp), space to move a chair or walker or crutches around the classroom, and that the back indoor play room is down 3 steps. It has me worried about how it will work for Nickolas next year.

Over the last month I have been trying to find resources online to tell  me what steps to take to make sure that Nickolas will get everything he needs in the school year. It started to really bog down this post - so I'm going to post all of the resources as a separate post.

When I'm stressing out about things I want to collect as much information as I can, and make it accessible when I have more questions!

Starting school feels like when I found out that Nickolas had spina bifida! The waiting and the wondering and the stress and the wait and see. I am really hoping, that like when I was pregnant, the waiting was the worse part; and once we actually get started into school I'll find out that all this worry and stress was for nothing (other than try to be super-prepared).

For the last week, since I've been trying to become more proactive getting ready for school I have felt like I am on the edge of tears! I just want it to be easier, and make the right decisions!
I spent last week calling around and sending out emails.
I talked to the secretary at our school which did not help to make me feel better. I was told

  1. We do not have to register earlier than January (even thought all of the sites say the Fall prior to school). In fact she said a lot can happen in a year and what is the point of taking his name?! -yes that made me feel very good about sending my kid to this school
  2.  Kids in kindergarten don't need an IEP and was told what is the point it's just kindergarten - my head nearly blew off at this
  3. What about a school nurse (or someone to help with cathing), that it doesn't need to be set up that much ahead of time.

I did get a chance to talk to the Principal later in the week and plan to have some meetings in January and have been reassured that 9 months is enough time to get things ready for Nickolas. They do have a couple of kids with special needs in the school, including a girl who uses a wheelchair full time. So I imagine they have experience.

We have been very, very adamant that we want Nickolas to go to this school with Katheryn. Our local children's centre, Grandview actually has a school attached to it. Campbell Children's School. And every time someone mentions that we are eligible for it we declined.
Nick had a reassessment by our developmental pediatrician in October. I wasn't able to be there, but Kyle was and we received a letter outlining the assessment. I think I just read the letter at a time when all I could think of was how are we going to make a smooth transition to school. Because it didn't say anything that I didn't know. But it got me thinking.
If Nickolas was able to attend this school he would be able to get physiotherapy, and occupational therapy 2-3 times a week. It finally hit me that maybe we are compromising the potential for Nick to receive more therapy because we want him to be with Katheryn.
I don't want Nick to go to a special school, I want him to be in the same school as Katheryn, make friends in the school he will grow up in. I don't want him to be different, to be segregated. But just because this isn't what I want doesn't mean that isn't what he might need for now.
Nick is already going to be facing challenges starting school in September. He will be one of the youngest kids in the class, the only kid in a wheelchair/walker/crutches?, he will have his own special bus (which he is excited about - he tells everyone I'm going to have my own bus when I go to school), we will have to readjust his therapies around his school hours. So now I'm wondering if we are pushing Nick to be in our regular school because of beliefs that we have about kids with a disability, instead of looking at what Nickolas' needs actually are.
So Kyle and I are taking a step  back. We are going to go through all of our options. Apply to the Campbell's school, apply to our local school, and if Nick gets accepted (they have a limited number of spots for the kids with the most need) then we will see what the best choice is.
I'm not sure if I'm happy about this. What I really wish is that Nick was a January baby and I had another year to think about it. But I know that Nickolas is excited to start school and whatever school he starts in on Sept 3, 2013 it will be the right one.


  1. Ah, I'm reading backwards.
    I'm of the same thinking as you. I want all of my kids at the same school. In the long run, I think that will be better for him than extra therapy or whatever. He'll get where he gets, but at least he'll have an insta-friend.
    For what it's worth, around here and with my old clients, nothing much did ever happen until after January and EA/support stuff doesn't get figured out until the summer. Seems crazy, but it works. Tuck it out of your mind, 9 months really will be enough time.

  2. If he did go to the Campbell school, how long would he go there? Would it be for a year or two to get him more therapy and get him better physically prepared to attend Katheryn's school, or would this be his school until high school? If its just one year, although it may be hard on him to go somewhere alone (unless he has friends from grandview that will be going there) but it may give him the therapy he needs to get a head start.