Sunday, September 18, 2011

Lauren's New School

Lauren started nursery school last week. It was a tough decision between sending her to a regular day care or a special needs school. We knew she wouldn't fit with the Montessori type school Kayla is in, but we thought a day care or nursery school would be good for her overall development. Steve and I visited several day cares and special needs school over the fall/winter/spring, interviewing and being interviewed about what would be best for Lauren. Absolutely she could have went to a regular daycare but we were most afraid that without special attention, she might get lost in the shuffle. Lauren is, and always has been, very passive, not very vocal, and doesn't demand attention. So in a regular daycare setting, with screaming kids, with kids who ask and demand for attention or assistance, we were afraid that Lauren might just sit contently in the corner playing with string all day, instead of doing activities that would help her with her development. Also, at the time when we were looking at daycares, Lauren wasn't walking, and the thought of sending her to a daycare where all the typically developing toddlers would be playing at the park and she would have to sit in the stroller and watch was sad. So we took the highroad, agreed that she would be better in a setting where the teachers were specialized in special needs, where our concerns about Lauren would be truly understood and where programming would include gross, fine motor and speech goals and began focusing our search on special needs nursery schools or day cares.

In the suburbs where we live, there is actually no special needs nursery school programs available. Daycares and nursery schools will make accommodations to kids with challenges, but ratio of kids:staff does not change and programming remains the same. So we opted to look in Toronto, where I work, for a school that would fit Lauren. There were a few to choose from, but all had long waiting lists (some over a year). Thankfully, we did our homework early and was accepted by two of them. The school we ended up choosing for Lauren is called Centennial Infant Child Development Centre (website: )

The nursery school runs 5 mornings a week, 9:00am to 11:45am. The school functions very similar to other nursery schools. There is circle time, music time, arts and crafts, snacks, gym etc. Every child has a volunteer that is with them throughout the day, ensuring participation and inclusion in all activities, so the ratio is 1:1 - which is often unheard of. Voluteers are parents, retired nurses or teachers, students studying special needs and community members. The school has a physio and occupational therapists who set goals for the child, provides guidance to the volunteers and teachers and monitors and reviews progress. One of the things we really liked about the school is that its an "integrated" school, meaning that 1/3 of the children are actually "typically developing" who serve as role models to the others in the classroom. My first thoughts were "what kind of parent with a normal child would want to send their child to a school for special needs?" so of course I had to ask when we visited the school. The response was that often the normal kids were big brothers or sisters of a younger sibling with challenges and/or twins where 1 child is ok, and the other is not.

Our first visit to this school and to the other special needs school was a bit shocking. Its definitely hard to see kids with syndromes such as Downs, physical disabilities or anomalies, autism, behavioral issues etc., little walkers and wheel chairs, snoezelen rooms and adapted toys and equipment in the classroom. We constantly questioned whether this was too extreme for Lauren and whether she was a good fit. And I guess all I can say is we don't know. What we do know is that she needs help in her development and that all the kids in this room do too. Some, more than others and some, in more ways than one. So rather than turn a blind eye and hope she'll turn out "ok", we chose to send her to a special school to get her the help she needs. It couldn't possibly hurt her and would most definitely help her. Definitely the label "special needs" is a sucky label to wear, especially when your child is so young, but if she's gotta ride the short bus, then she's going to ride the short bus. Whatever bus that  is going to get her to a school that will care about her and help her grow should be all that matters.

So Lauren's first day of school was last week. As she sat having her breakfast, wearing her blue jeans and sweatshirt for the first day of school, wincing and smiling at me over oatmeal - I realized that she is growing up. She is starting nursery school, special needs or not, its a school, and I'm super excited about this new journey she is about to embark on. I'll post pictures soon!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

End of Summer - CNE Pictures

Ending off the summer, we did our annual trip to the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE). Steve and I have gone every year since we first started dating - and yes, not much has changed. Same buildings, same games, same food. Nevertheless, its a tradition with us, and now, our family. We weren't very adventurous with food this year - and failed to try the deep fried butter, deep fried coke or doughnut burger, but we did have the traditional ice cream waffle sandwich and 99 cent spaghetti. We stayed till dusk and Kayla had a great time playing games, eating cotton candy and hula hooping around with her cousin Bree, while Lauren enjoyed her mac n' cheese and sausage for dinner, loved looking at all the rides and lights and was constantly picking up food off the dirty streets and floors to eat.

 Wack-A-Mole. Steve loves playing this game, and he's good at it too!

A great way to end the day of walking with a 25 cent foot "wake-up". This is probably the best deal at the CNE!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Kayla's Summer - Quick Update

Kayla has had a very busy summer this year. She's been attending various day camps around the city and has embraced and enjoyed each of them thoroughly. She learned to do summersaults and cart wheels at gymnastics camp, went treasure hunting as a pirate and sailed homemade rafts in the river at an adventure camp and learned the classic camp songs like Alice the Camel, Little Rabbit Foo Foo, Mr. Sun and the classic camp games like Octopus, Hot Potato and Duck, Duck, Goose at the city day camp. I used to be a day camp leader for the city and when I told this to Kayla, she said that she would like to be a camp leader when she grows up too.

Kayla continues to be a big helper in the kitchen and is now making lasagna pretty much well on her own. She continues to enjoy helping me out with cooking and baking. Her favourite thing to do is to make pancakes in the morning for breakfast.

 Kayla remained close to her friends all summer. She speaks of all her circles of friends quite frequently, making requests to get together with them, to have sleepovers and to go to the beach and go swimming with them. Its hard to keep up with all her requests, making our summer weekends extremely busy. No matter how long its been since she's last seen her friends, the friendships always manage to pick up exactly where they left off. Even though her friends are of different ages and some have different interests - it doesn't seem to matter - they find common ground and play for hours - whether its just scooping sand, playing pirates or Simon Says. 

Kayla surprised me with this drawing last weekend. I didn't even know she could draw people. The last time I saw her draw people it was two circles and three sticks (one stick for an arm, and two sticks for a leg, 2 circles for eyes). Also, she now knows how to write Lauren's name and will writes her name on everything - to the point where camp leaders have asked me if Kayla's middle name was Lauren because Kayla kept writing her name as "Kayla Lauren"

Playing on my iphone, a past time favourite. She looks all grown up in this photo. Sniff sniff.

Lauren's Summer - Quick Update

I can't believe the summer is flying by and next week will be September. This summer has been a busy one for all of us, and with no exception, Lauren continues to be busily booked with therapies and family outings. Her personality has bloomed this summer, and she has learned the power of using her voice to express discontent and excitement. The bad thing is the discontentment is being expressed as whines. Whining to be picked up, whining for milk, whining that someone took a toy away from her. Oh well, at least its an expression - gotta take the good with the bad.

The speech department continues to be our biggest challenge but there is progress, just slow progress that can't be scrutinized daily or weekly. Most recently Lauren has started squealing around the house and we love hearing and echoing her little high pitches. While words per se, haven't really come along yet, her pointing is helping her, at times, to communicate her needs. Today I opened the fridge to ask what she wanted to eat (purposefully placing items such as cheese and yoghurt on the lower shelves) and she pointed to the avacado in the clear fruit container. I was thrilled. She ended up eating half the avacado! 

Her constant smile reminds me that she is happy and well loved. I love the following picture I captured - A good nights sleep always makes a happy and smiley toddler in the morning.

So Lauren's summer has been alot of fun (for all of us). Here she is enjoying her first freezie below. Steve and I were really surprised she was willing to eat this because 1) she's always been reluctant to eat cold things and 2) she doesn't like to hold cold things in her hand. So way to go Lauren!!

Lauren loves the water - beaches, splashpads, even the bath. Below is a picture of her at Centre Island and at the splash pad at Canada's Wonderland.

Most notably over the past 2 weeks, Lauren has learned to squat and is now 100% walking!! As you may recall, her last goal was to get up independently into standing without pulling up and this was a challenge for her because she could never squat. If she wanted something on the floor, she would always simply just fall to the floor to get it as opposed to squatting and picking up the object and standing back up. She's also never knew how to jump in the jolly jumper (didn't like bending those knees) and is the reason why the PT kept encouraging her to use a trampoline. Anyhow, she's finally figured out the squat and because of this is able to get herself back up into standing without grabbing onto anything! Below is a picture of Lauren playing in squat which is a huge accomplishment for her! So 3 months from when she took her first steps (in May), she is now fully walking about and bringing a smile to everyone's face who sees her.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...