Thursday, September 30, 2010

Well, that could have gone better...

Oh, Miss O. How we torture you so.

I finally got Olivia to Peninsula School to check out Ms. Emily's EI class. And may I start by saying that it was lovely. It really was. The afternoon is a small class full of lovely children and wonderful teachers, in a light-filled room. Anyone in North or NE PDX looking for an EI program should check it out.

That being said, Olivia hated every second of it.

Yes, I know. Not only did she have a busy morning with social skills class and running her brother around, but then when she was begging and pleading to go home, I haul her off to check out the afternoon Peninsula EI class. So it didn't bode well. She was miserable from the beginning, but then it was made worse when she saw a little girl in the class having a hard time of it. She was a sweet little girl, but more severely effected Autism and would every few minutes let out a loud cry. And it shattered what little tolerance Olivia had with the new class. Olivia stood in the doorway, silently shaking and crying, overwhelmed with anxiety, until I conceded to the realization that it was just not working.

And yes, I know that we need to give it another try, and we will. But watching this class, and then watching the Kindergarten class at Alameda today getting ready to take their class pictures, I am suddenly convinced that she is just not going to be ready for K next year.

Kids run. Kids yell. Kids cry and go crazy and then have to be herded into nice neat rows by the teachers. And O just can't do it. She is still overwhelmed by unfamiliar kids and stressed when she hears someone crying or yelling. When Isaac would have a panic attack, he would lash out and run away. When O does it, she hides in a corner and sobs.

But I have a plan. Yes, I am voting for holding O back one year. It came up briefly once in conversation with my husband, and was dismissed, so I will petition again as the school year progresses.

I think O needs to stay in her sweet quiet Preschool for a year, working on her social skills and developing friendships. She is only really interested in other kids recently. Then, in the fall, I will enroll her in a public preschool, maybe even Alameda Preschool, with typical peers. K-test run. Then, Kindergarten.

What are the advantages? She is tiny. She has much younger classmates much larger than her (yes, I am thinking of you Tessa and Daschel). We need to work on her social piece and her anxiety issues (starting to see a Developmental Psych, next month).


(can you hear the crickets chirping?)

Ok. One. I was going to go back to work. Yes, pretty Princess Kristin and her nasty Anthropologie Addiction and desire to build the addition to the house needs at some point to add more than just charm and personality to the household (now, stop laughing. I KNOW who you are).

What to do, what to do...


  1. What small quiet preschool is she doing? What is this social skill class?
    I think about holding Ru back often, but I'm just not sure. She's doing well in both of her schools, but kindy scares me.

  2. I think it is OK to talk about it now - Ms. Holly and Ms. Amanda decided to start a small private preschool called Sunnyside Sensory Preschool, which will have its first day on Monday. For insurance reasons, they are keeping it really small to start off with, and have a group of 6 kids. They chose 3 classmates from Edwards that they thought might be "socially shy" - kids who would have a harder time in some of the larger EI classes located in bigger schools.

    That would be us. I will post updates on how that goes. I love tha Ruby is doing good - O just had a panic attack at Penninsula.

  3. So glad to hear that Sunnyside is coming together! That's great. Kindy really scares me, too. To keep from freaking out about it, I tell myself we will hire a teacher and run our own little kindy out of our house. I am probably having a typical sp.ed. mom reaction. Probably with good reason. In the meantime, I'm just happy Tessa is happy where she is.

  4. And I am jealous a bit that Ruby and Tessa are doing so well in a more "real-world" situation. I always worry that padding O's world too much is not good - she needs to learn to live in THIS world, not some sweet little sheltered world. So I worry that I am not preparing her well enough for K. Momma guilt - am I doing too much, or too little. Amped.

  5. Oh i'm glad they still started their little school! Truthfully, even if it had been an option for Ru, I don't know how we would have afforded two private preschools and an afternoon sped nanny.
    I really do think we need to have some playdates, at least so the mamas can talk!
    Don't worry about doing too much, or too little... you're doing what's right for O NOW, and that will change as each day goes by. Who knows what next year will bring!

  6. Yes, K. Sometimes the so called "real world" is just plain no good. Feel good about meeting O's needs, and don't worry about the rest. When my dad was a kid, there was no such thing as preschool. And today, many typical kids don't go to preschool. Tessa's dev. ped.'s kids don't go to preschool. You are doing great mama. If O does well in a small calm setting, then she is doing well in my book. -M

  7. Hi I just found this blog and I also have a young, not quite ready for K next year boy on the spectrum. I'm sure you know this already, but we were shocked to hear that we could not keep him out of K next year and still receive SPED services. He can't go to an EI preschool anymore after he turns 5 in June. Right now he is in an early intervention deaf and hard of hearing preschool because he has hearing loss in addition to autism/aspergers. We are considering the Communication Behavior Academic classrooms, but since no one can really tell us for sure where they will be, who will be teaching them and whether or not we will actually have any choice in which one he is placed in, we are hesitant. It seems you have recently navigated the transition to elementary school and probably live somewhere near me. I'd love to connect. I am wondering about your comment in a blog about the "Roseway" incident as our home school is Roseway heights. Thanks.

  8. To Meg: I am so SORRY it has taken me so long to go back and see this comment! You can ALWAYS email me directly at

    Regarding the Roseway thing, I hope I didn't scare you too much. It was pretty bad, but it wasn't all due to the Roseway staff. We were bringing a hell of a lot of baggage (read: damage) to that classroom.

    What didn't work for us at Roseway was twofold: an inexperienced (but well-meaning)teacher (she is still there, but since this was over a year ago, I am assuming she has hit her stride)and a reactionary staff that made the problem oh-so-much-worse.

    The school is very full, a k-8 that brings in kids from a variety of neighborhoods, and also brings in a variety of problems with students. There is a real population of active and caring parents, and there is a equally large population of parents that drop off their kids and then run in the other direction. It is a real case of what you get out of it will be based on what you put into it.

    About the CB teacher: Now, this was a year ago. She was nice. She cared. She was overwhelmed, hired just days before the start of the school year. She was disorganized, and was sinking fast beneath all of the work needed to set up a new class, deal with the variety of disabilities in the class, and find her rythem. It was chaos from the moment I dropped him off to the time I picked him up. This is bad for a kid with ASD who has serious anxiety about what is expected of him. It took 6 weeks to go from First Day of School to the Expulsion Hearing.

    During this time, she identified Isaac as depressed, and only able to function academically at a preschool level. He was in 1st grade.

    Two months after he left that program, the new School Psych laughed at both. And Isaac was working at grade level or above (he was doing 2nd grade math). Same kid - different classroom experience.

    Email me if you see this. I will say this - you have more control then you think. You know your child, if you find that a CB class (which can be a lovely thing, BTW), has a poor environment, you lack confidence, etc., you can put the breaks on it. You can ask to observe a variety of CB classes. You can ask to talk to a Parent Activate through PPS (we met a great one, I can give you her info), who can help you tell what to look for, and you can contact SEPTAP (, the Special Education PTA of Portland, and find out if anyone has advice about specific programs. And if nothing else, I would be happy to come with you to view a CB class and help "trouble-spotting". I am at home with the kids these days, and am flexible.

    We are at Alameda now. There are two CB classes: one academic, one a slower pace. That is another huge issue to consider, and in the end we had the power to choose which one to put him in. You are not helpless. It is all a matter of how pushy you want to get. I was not pushy at all early on, and Isaac suffered. Not anymore.