August 22nd I walked over to the school district office and signed the releases to start the process to review Clarie for preschool. I can’t believe all of the ups and downs we have had on this journey since then. The psychologist calling to say it shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to meet with Clarie as there was so little to work with. The augmentative communication specialist coming and being blown away by how advanced Claire was and how well she understood the concepts. The IEP meeting where I got to argue with the OT to have the word “degenerative”removed from the report. Over three months of process and we ended up, the day before Thanksgiving, wondering when it would end. Then I got a call. Claire would start school on Monday.
Dec. 1 8am we headed out the door with enough time to go and stop at Starbucks and get a kiss from Andrew, Claire’s favorite barista. When we arrived at school Brad came out to help us to the classroom. With a stroller and a walker, it is a project to get everything in. Claire was so excited to see Brad, it just so happens that he is also Grace’s (Claire best buddy) dad. He did such an amazing job of talking with her and explaining the system. I think that she has a much better understanding of the process than I do at this point. Since they assume that I am a neurological typical, I get less explanation. We hit a rough spot when she fell sideways while standing in her walker and then screamed for about 35 hours, I mean minutes (it felt longer). It is hard to describe how isolating the first day felt. Here I am in a little cubicle with Claire screaming and biting herself with people staring and so much going through my head. This was touted as the Cadalic program, a place so many people wish their kids could get into. But it is so clearly not designed for Claire. I could hear the voice of the school district rep in my head, “Their just isn’t a good place for her.” As she is screaming I am thinking, if this is the best, how are we going to make it work. Yes, we were in the Cadalac program, but Claire needs something more suited to driving in the mountains in a blizzard. She stopped screaming, we played a little and the teacher told me it was time to go. Since then it has gotten better. Maybe it was good that they were able to experience the entire rath of Clarie in the beggining as a warning, as to say, be careful, you don’t want to go there. There are still a few bugs to work out, but we are all learning, and Claire is too. The picture is of Claire, excited and just about to leave for her first day of school.