When Sadie was about 6 months old, we started attending the infant program at Foundation for Blind Children (FBC). I couldn't wait to get involved when I heard they had activities for the kids, then they split out and have a parent-only meeting. This was my foot in the door of the special needs community. I remember bawling my eyes out at that first meeting where we went around the table and introduced ourselves and told about our children. It wasn't the last time I cried there...
My mom still likes to tell the story about when she came to visit and accompanied me to the infant program one Friday morning. As we were leaving, Sadie, who had already thrown up everywhere, was naked and screaming. We were standing in the hallway visiting with some of the teachers before leaving and my mom was holding Sadie, who puked EVERYWHERE. Giant amounts of breastmilk puke all over their hallway carpet...and nobody batted an eye. They just got the stuff to clean it up and never acted like it was a big deal. My mom was so impressed, I was so embarrassed.
Now that Sadie's almost 3, we're getting ready for her to start school. Luckily, we were able to fight and get her into school before her birthday and she'll be starting the Monday after Thanksgiving. We decided we want to send her to FBC, but now that we've moved across town, she'd go to a different branch, one that I've never visited...until today.
I left in tears, happy tears. This organization never ceases to amaze me.
We showed up for a tour of the preschool today, and were greeted by one of the lead therapists. Soon, Sadie's teacher (to be) came out to say hi. She said she only had one student in class today and he was sleeping, so she could visit with us. (We later found out that that one student who was sleeping was someone we know and love and are so excited to be in the same class with!!) We walked back to the classroom and talked about what their daily schedule is like, how feeding works in that class (all the kids in there have feeding tubes, Sadie will be the only one eating by mouth), and agreed that they should keep the potty schedule at school. They told me they treat the wheelchair like the car, it's used to get you there, and then you get out and then you "leave it in the parking lot." I was told that unless she was being taken somewhere, she probably won't be in her wheelchair at all. They showed me swings and special chairs and boards with textured cards indicating what they'd be doing next in their schedule. I was told that 3 times a month they'd get music therapy, twice a month they'd have pet therapy, and every week they'd get gymnastics...regardless of what their IEP says. And even as far as therapies indicated by IEPs, they always do more.
Then I was given more of a tour, while Sadie stayed in the classroom. By the time I came back, the teacher had Sadie out of her wheelchair and they were bouncing on the ball and Sadie had a HUGE smile on her face. She was picking her head up and laughing! And then they'd stop and the teacher would ask her if she wanted more. It was explained to me that you don't get anything for free at school, so if you like something and you want more, you have to vocalize or sign or show somehow that you want more. Brilliant! We didn't want to leave...especially Sadie!!
Then the woman who was giving us the tour actually helped us out to the car and even put Sadie into her carseat for me (Chelsea is sick today and couldn't come with us)!!
Like I said, I cried on the way home. I just feel so blessed and so thankful for these people, for this organization. It's not very often that I can go somewhere and Sadie is played with, talked to, and understood as much as she was today...and we were there all of 30 minutes!
Sadie will start school in 2 weeks from today and I can't wait!!