I recently had the opportunity to return to BJ’s preschool and it was certainly a trip down memory lane. So many feelings swept over me as I walked through the doors. Nostalgia, sadness and happiness were all tangled into my afternoon visit.
BJ’s preschool experience was a positive one, but choosing a preschool was a heart breaking process. The memories of the search made me want to share my experience in the hope that the lesson I learnt will help others. Whether it is choosing a preschool, therapist or any other service the message is the same. Persist in finding a place that is really happy to have your child.
The hunt for a preschool started locally for us. I couldn’t see any reason that BJ couldn’t attend a “regular” centre, however, the directors of the preschools didn’t feel the same way. They didn’t say they couldn’t take BJ, but they certainly shared every negative thought they had about the idea. The preschool at the end of our street basically told me what an expense it would be for them to have him. I stood there looking at my smiley, social toddler and wondered how we didn’t see the same gorgeous boy.
I walked out of many in tears. In despair I sought help from the Cerebral Palsy Alliance to navigate the system. Their Early Educator accompanied me to preschools in the area and her input proved interesting as she was not emotionally attached to the situation. This meant she saw things I didn’t see. I was totally overwhelmed at the thought of my non-verbal little boy not being in my care. I was clear on one point and that was that I had to have him somewhere where he wasn’t seen as a drain.
Finding a preschool for BJ was drawn out and I was moaning about it to our vision therapist from the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children. She advised a new preschool was opening at the Institute and said she’d make enquiries to see if BJ would qualify. VisionEd preschool accepted BJ with open arms.
It is still a beautiful preschool. BJ benefited greatly from the reverse integration. Reverse integration meant that community children were accepted into the specialised setting and most importantly, their parents had chosen to send them to the preschool. The kids were wonderful with Braeden as were their parents. BJ was invited to birthday parties and had a full preschool experience.
When it came time to send AJ to preschool she didn’t go to any of the ‘easy’ options like the preschool at the end of the street. If a preschool was not welcoming to BJ then that was an indication that it was an environment I didn’t want for AJ.
The Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children have numerous preschools and they always have a wait list as they are considered some of the best preschools in the area. Children learn skills such as signing and a great understanding of special needs.
My message is, “keep looking”, it is exhausting and at times heart breaking but when your child feels part of a community it is all worthwhile.
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