Thursday, November 19, 2009

Options...Thinking Ahead

This evening Laura, Rich, Isabelle, and Taylor came to the house to play with the boys while Ben and I went to a meeting. This meeting is the beginning of a big transition for Ryder in the near future. At the moment he is receiving therapy sessions through the Infants & Toddlers program which is a state program. He has been in this program since he was 9 months old and has made a great deal of progress in that time period! At 3 years old he will have to transition and there are two options available for him. The meeting tonight was to discuss these two options in-depth and to help us start making a decision. Between 27-32 months there will be a meeting involving all of Ryder's current therapists, Ben & I, and a member of the special education program from Harford County. This meeting we will discuss where Ryder is developmentally, what his needs are for therapy, and then we will have to make our decision. At 3 yrs old (36 months) he will begin which ever option we have chosen and continue that until he goes into kindergarten.

The two options we have for Ryder....

Option 1: Extended IFSP (Individualized Family Service Plan) which means he would continue receiving the therapy sessions in our home just as he is now. The therapy sessions will be very family-oriented as they always have been. He would continue with the same therapy schedule and nothing would really change.

Option 2: IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) which would be a whole different thing from what we are doing right now. This option would be sending Ryder to a special education pre-school at a local elementary school. It would put him into a classroom with children aged 3-5 and with varying levels of delays and needs. He would receive all of the therapies he needs in the classroom along with working on socialization and school readiness. This program is a half-day program (2.5 hours) that takes place 2-4 days a week depending on the child's needs. Ryder is not extremely delayed so he would probably only go 2 days a week, but we would not find out this until his IEP meeting. The big little boy would ride a school bus!! I would rather drive him to and from the school, but Ben (and all of the therapists) highly suggest letting the kid's ride the bus so they can interact and learn the whole school bus thing.

After tonight's meeting Ben and I are really leaning towards Option 2. We think the social interaction would be great for Ryder. We still have a few months to make the decision so I plan to talk with his therapists during their next sessions to see what they think. This transition is something new that is just starting for kids who turn 3 years old after February 1, 2010 so there are a few kinks that are still being worked out. This new program does have the same eligibility requirements as the Infants & Toddlers program which means Ryder's genetic disorder will automatically qualify him so he will definitely be accepted.

We are also going to start looking around at our options for Zak next year. Just as much as Ryder needs the interaction, Zak does as well. We will be looking into the Early Head Start program as well as private pre-school programs for 3 year olds. We are learning that you really do have to think ahead, look at your options, plan, and then make a decision.