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Navigating through Pre-K with a Special Needs Child

Little Man reached a wonderful milestone in his educational journey this year: He started Pre-K. It should’ve been a time of joy and excitement, but it ended up being one filled with stress and anxiety.

I’ve blogged a few times over the years about Little Man’s speech and language delay. But communication wasn’t Little Man’s only issue. After being tested several times, Little Man was diagnosed with Autism, the day after my birthday and while Dear Hubby was deployed.

Words can’t explain the pain and despair Dear Hubby and I felt after the diagnosis. We first noticed issues with Little Man when he wasn’t talking or waving bye at 15 months. Deep down, we felt like something was wrong, but nothing slaps you in the face like an official diagnosis.

Dear Hubby was hurt because he couldn’t be there for me during the testing phase and results. His unscheduled extended deployment robbed us of that. I felt all alone and totally overwhelmed. My friends and family rallied around me in support.

Being an Active Duty military family and having a child with Autism creates many challenges. Little Man was seeing a wonderful speech therapist and occupational therapist at our last base. He made good progress with them and they loved him. Since we lived in a large metropolitan area, there were many opportunities to get the support and help we needed for him.

But as you know, we received orders this summer and moved to a small town with limited resources. Social interaction and communication are some of Little Man’s biggest issues, so Dear Hubby and I felt that Pre-K through the local schools would be a good option for him. Little Man did okay at our last base in a regular preschool setting, so we felt that it wouldn’t be a problem at his new school.

That decision turned out to be a disaster. I received calls from the school on an almost daily basis. Every time I turned around, Little Man was in the Principal’s Office for taking his shoes off or for crying. I was so frustrated and at a loss for what to do. I prayed and prayed for God to work this situation out. And after two weeks of an endless nightmare, He did.

The School Psychologist got involved and told me about a pre-k inclusion class that was offered at another school. The class allows “normal functioning children” and children with developmental delays to all be in one class together. There are more teachers in the class, so Little Man would have more assistance. It sounded like a great idea.

I visited the class and felt comfortable with the school and teachers. Dear Hubby and I had an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting with the school and set things up for Little Man to be transferred to the new school.

Things are going better now. Little Man goes to his inclusion class for the first half of the day. During the second half of the day, he goes to an Autism class, receiving speech therapy and occupational therapy. We are slowly but surely getting referrals and connections to qualified individuals who can help Little Man reach his full potential.There are still a few issues that have to be worked out, but I’m praying that these issues will get resolved very soon.

Dear Hubby and I would certainly appreciate your prayers of peace, comfort, and wisdom as we continue to advocate tirelessly for Little Man. God is in control and I know that He will work everything out for our good.

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{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Christina October 10, 2011, 1:09 PM

    You have my prayers. Having an older son with mild Asperger’s and ADHD I have had to navigate the educational waters for years. Believe me you are doing great. As far as I’ve seen being an involved parent is the most important part of his education. Especially when you are military, as we are too.

    • Tonya October 11, 2011, 9:30 PM

      Thanks so much Christina for your prayers! Sounds like we have a lot in common! 🙂 I try to make sure that I stay on top of things because it’s so easy for stuff to fall through the cracks. I’ve noticed that when teachers know you care, they start to care a little more too.

  • Cecelia Lester (Quiet Spirit) October 3, 2011, 12:51 PM

    My heart goes out to you. Our son was born with a birth defect. He’s a grown man now. At one time in his preschool years, he could have been considered multiply handicapped. His life as and adult has not been easy. He finally has a job that has good pay, advancement potential, and structured guidelines. Good Christian people have prayed for him since he was born. My closest friends prayed for him during his times of unemployment.
    God will guide you and your husband through the times that lay ahead. God has allowed this to happen for His purposes. We don’t know why now, but He will reveal His Will to you and your husband.

    • Tonya October 3, 2011, 3:08 PM

      I really appreciate your words of encouragement and prayers. Thank you for sharing your son’s story. I’m glad things are coming together for him. I will include him in my prayers.
      Be blessed,

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