Pumpkin started school yesterday. I was prepared for the staff there to be completely unprepared. So, all in all, my expectations were met.
Two weeks ago I contacted the special ed department in our district to let them know that Pumpkin would be coming. I pretty much got completely blown off.
On Monday I enrolled her in school. The special ed diagnostician for our elementary just happened to be in the office the same time I was there filling out paperwork. We sat in the conference room and I went over all the details. When I left she told me that they would mainstream Pumpkin until she could be evaluated. In fact, one of the last things she told me was that they would get her set up in a regular kindergarten room and let her be independent. (Keeping in mind that I had just told this woman that Pumpkin can barely walk and is practically non-verbal.)
We agreed that due to a dentist appointment and therapy appointments, Pumpkin would start school on Wednesday.
I showed up in the office on Wednesday with Pumpkin in hand. The secretary behind the counter had her paperwork all ready. She then gave Pumpkin a once-over. I explained everything that had been decided in the therapy evaluations on Tuesday. (Ya know. That she's almost non-ambulatory, that her OT development is that of 19 months old and that she's practically non-verbal.) She gave me a deer-in-the-headlight sort of look and muttered that Pumpkin couldn't go into a "regular" classroom. I half-grinned and said, "Yeah. That's what I thought." From there, I was told to wait for the principal.
While waiting, I got to speak with the counselor and the vice-principal. Everyone seemed rather uncomfortable and unsure of what to do. I got the same response from the principal when she arrived about 10 minutes later. She said that she had to call the diagnostician. I was then informed that the diagnostician would come over to the school to meet Pumpkin.
Apparently calling in advance with precise information and having a meeting in person just wasn't enough. This woman hadn't taken anything I had said seriously. And now she had to come to the school and we had to wait some more.
When she arrived she sat down next to Pumpkin and smiled. She looked at me and asked if Pumpkin knew she was starting school. I had to choke back a laugh as I answered her, "no". She too seemed rather perplexed by the situation. She had Pumpkin walk around the room some. She kept trying to talk to her. Eventually she gave up and started messing with paperwork.
It was decided that "officially" Pumpkin can't be in the self-contained room yet. She hasn't had her ARD/IEP meeting. However, it was also determined that Pumpkin couldn't function in a regular classroom setting. So...they decided to do one thing on paper and another in reality. About an hour after school started, I was able to walk Pumpkin in to the special ed room to meet the teacher and aides.
Once in the classroom I breathed a sigh of relief. Everyone there seemed to take everything I had to say about Pumpkin seriously. They were kind and compassionate. And although Pumpkin cried fiercely when I left, they very lovingly redirected her. I even got a text from her teacher after lunch letting me know that Pumpkin had settled down quickly and was having a great day.
I still have several more things to work out. Pumpkin needs a stroller at school - but I was told they would provide one. I also need to navigate getting her on a bus home so I don't have to do the whole pick-up thing. (Oh how I hate the pick-up routine!! ...shudder...) I have orders to get a pediatric stroller for our personal use. I just have to find a DME that can do it. And I'm waiting to find out if a judge will approve for Pumpkin to have her dental restoration work done under general anesthesia. Visits start on Monday. And we have a Family Group Conference on Thursday.
I'm nothing if not busy. :)