Thursday, September 6, 2012

New school year for Kayla and Lauren PECs update

Kayla started her first day at school this past Tuesday. She is a "graduate" this year in her Montessori class, meaning she is one of the older kids (the classroom has kids from 2.5 to 6 years) and she will be moving onto grade 1 next year. She was super excited and came home with a big smile telling me all about the new little boy in the classroom who wouldn't stop crying the whole day and how her teachers greeted her with a big smile and hug. She started off as a toddler in the classroom, looking up to the big kids for help and leadership, and now it's finally her turn to provide this to the younger children in the class. And boy is she ready! After playing big sister to Lauren, she has become very compassionate, patient and nurturing. She loves playing the role of "helper" and "mom", and I often call upon her to help Lauren when she needs help.

She was super excited to show me how she rolled down her knee high socks! I told her that's was the way I use to wear my socks in the 1980s when I went to school!! Now all she needs are those stir-up tights (which I saw at Baby Gap). The uniform dress she is wearing in the picture is the same dress she wore when she first started Montessori 3 years ago. So yes, that the same dress that used to sit half way down her leg which is now quite above the knee.

Next year, we have a few hard decisions to make about the girls schooling. Private, public, catholic, french immersion? There are lots of considerations and there is the constant worry of not making the right choice. And with Lauren we have even more considerations to take in. 

As she gets older, I am sure Kayla is becoming more aware of Lauren's differences. That Lauren does not play with other kids, that Lauren does not talk, that Lauren does not understand everything we would expect her to. And our response has always been "she's learning", which is in part true, but the reality likely is, Lauren will continue on her own path and in the end may play, communicate and understand differently that other kids. And that is OK - at least that's what I keep telling myself...And because Kayla has a lot of friends, I actually like that Lauren is around them, so that they can too learn that being different is ok too. If we grow up more accepting of differences and help each other out, than I think Lauren's has fulfilled her purpose.

We have been working on PECs throughout the summer. We have a small binder that has about 10 food cards and 4 toy cards that she knows. We were instructed to take the binder with us everywhere Lauren goes, so that she would have access to her "words" and could grab cards and give them to us whenever she had something to say.
I guess you could say with PECs, we are coming out of the closet more about Lauren's challenges. In the past, we could hide Lauren's delays with her short height and light weight (she looks like she is 1) and also because she was very young and cute (well she is still cute!). And because the only other visible difference was her SMOs, which were often covered with her pants or rolled down socks, strangers and family and friends would think she was maybe a little "off" but generally fine. But now since the introduction of PECs, when you bring out a binder with picture cards to ask her "show me what you want" at a restaurant, birthday party or at a family BBQ, it definitely signifies to others that something is different, so different it required an "intervention". Yeah it kind of sucks...who likes carrying a binder in their purse everywhere they go,  but I'm actually quite excited and proud of this little PEC binder because at least now she is telling me what she wants..and lately all she wants is cookie and raisins. And because I don't want to discourage her from using her pictures, she is eating quite a few cookie and raisins in a day!

Lauren has progressed with PECs much faster than we anticipated. I gave myself 6-8 months before we would have been promoted to a cards in a binder (this means Lauren can discriminate accurately between pictures), and we actually did it in less than 3 months! So we practice a little bit everyday, and I'm slowly training up the grandparents and family as well on this.

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