Monday, May 7, 2012

"This is a Special Ed program..."

Well, we met with a  Pre-K teacher and our intervention case worker on Friday about Jackson's the future of special services for Jackson's communication delay.  In case you don't know the history you can go herehereherehere, and here to get caught up.  

Jackson's been in speech therapy since January and has made some wonderful progress.  At this point he will say just about anything you want him to say  It's putting together phrases that trips him up.  Many times, instead of saying the phrase correctly, he will just mimic the vowel sounds.  Example:  We can say Jackson say juice and he'll say it clear as day.  The same with please.  But ask him to put it together and he just says, "oo eeee".  When we try to correct him after a few times, he gets really frustrated and either goes silent or flat out says "No!"  As my friend, Tara, pointed out, he's kinda like Joey from FRIENDS when Phoebe is trying to teach him French.  The resemblance to how things go when trying to get Jackson to repeat us is uncanny!

What we've seen improve the most from speech therapy is Jackson's auditory comprehension.  Even our speech therapist has been amazed by what he understands in the past few weeks.  She even broke out the picture cards and he pointed out things that we didn't even know he understood.  It made us all realize that knows and comprehends just about everything we say and everything he sees, he's just not good at expressing that he knows and understands it.

All of Jackson's initial goals have been met and they've been updated twice since he started intervention and that has been really uplifting.  He may still be behind but at least we are seeing consistent progress!  At this point we're thinking he's probably at around a 6 month delay in speech, which is much better than he was before.

Unfortunately, intervention services through the state stop at the age of three and then the local school system picks up via a preschool program.  That is why we had to meet with the preschool teacher and our caseworker on Friday -- to discuss what may happen once Jackson turns three.

The meeting was really informative and I had a lot of questions going in.  My main concern was the range of delay that the other children in the class will have.  What I don't want is for Jackson to be in a class where he is the most developed kid in there.  When I asked the teacher about it she was very clear to say, "Well, this is a special ed program..."

When she said that, I suddenly felt like I was drowning again.  First, it confirmed my fears that there would be some children in the class with SEVERE delays of all sorts - from motor skills to cognition to communication.  Second, that my child...MY CHILD...would be in "special ed."  That is a hard pill to swallow and makes me emotional just thinking about it.  No...not my kid...not my Jackson.  No way....he can't be "special ed," can he?  I mean "special ed" comes with a ton of terrible stereotypes -- "retarded", "riding the short bus", "stupid", etc.  And while I know those things aren't true, I know that if Jackson ends up in special ed he will have to face people saying those things to him.  And no one wants that for their child!  I know that I can't protect him from everything, and he will most likely face some type of bullying at some point in his adolescence, but to start out school at such a disadvantage would probably ensure that he'd face those things much earlier than expected.

As the meeting went on I did start to feel better about the program though.  The goal is to have the majority of children who enter the program, test out of it by the time they start Kindergarten.  And since Jackson has a late birthday, he would have at least 2 full years in the program, which greatly increases his chances of doing so.  The teacher also encouraged us to come observe so we could see first hand the range of students in the class and how they run things and attend to the needs of each child on a day to day basis.

About half way through the meeting, a big question arose.  Will Jackson even qualify for the program at all?  See, in oder to test into the program, he has to have a 25% delay in two areas or a 40% delay in one.  And right now, according to an informal evaluation, he only has a 17% delay in two areas and a 24% delay in another.  And the 24% delay is only because he's not potty trained (which I think it's ridiculous that they even have that as a goal so early).  They will do a formal evaluation sometime in August or September, but with the strides he's been making due to Speech Therapy we're unsure he'll qualify.

So, I'm left feeling torn...

Do I want him to test into the program, which is FREE I might add, and have him be one of the top performing students in the class?  I know from my teaching experience that sometimes the top kids end up getting ignored and thus unchallenged because they don't need as much attention from the teacher.  But, if Jackson does test into the program, and we decide to have him attend - he will also continue to receive FREE speech therapy twice a week through it.

Or do we pay for a regular preschool program?  Not only will that be tough on our finances, but I also fear that his communication delay might be viewed as a behavior problem and not handled correctly.  I don't want Jackson to be viewed as disobedient or defiant simply because he doesn't understand, or can't communicate his understanding of instructions and other things.  Also, if he doesn't attend the special ed preschool program - TEIS will no longer cover his speech therapy.  Which means if we choose to continue it, we will have to pay for it.  And right now, insurance won't cover it at all so that would be a battle we'd have to fight with them and ultimately another hefty expense.

There is just so much to think about and so much to pray about in the coming months.  My prayer is that God would make it clear to us and that what is best for Jackson is what would happen.  If he doesn't need the program or it would serve to his detriment rather than benefit -- I pray he won't test into it.  But if he needs it and it would prepare him for school better than regular pre-k -- I pray he would test in.

I wish we could've gotten definite answers as to what the future holds regarding special services for Jackson, but is seems as if God has decided our patience and our faith in Him for just a little longer.  I don't know exactly what He has planned or the purpose of it yet, but I will continue to trust in Him during this time.  Your prayers are welcomed and appreciated as well!


Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Yes, I stole that from Ellen Degeneres.  But, she's right.  This month is going to be amazing!  I feel like life is getting back to normal as we've adjusted (well, almost) to being parents of two and therefore things are starting to pick up and get busy for the Parsons household again.  There are just so many reasons to be excited about May!

1.  This month is going to bring a better night's sleep for our whole family because Ruth IS going to start sleeping better at night.  Do actually know this?  No.  But I am believing and trusting in the Lord for it!  Jackson started sleeping through the night here and there at 6 weeks and never looked back by 8 weeks.  Ruth isn't quite on the same track but I am believing that it WILL happen by the end of this month.  My God is the God of things both big and small.  This may seem small but fellow parents know that when you are in it, sleep deprivation becomes a sleep mountain! I also know that the word says that faith the size of a mustard seed can move a mountain (Matthew 17:20).  So, sleep mountain, BE MOVED!

2.  We have a meeting this Friday with Jackson's intervention case worker and a daycare about what will happen once he turns 3.  If he still tests at a delay (which I think he barely will), he is qualified for FREE daycare.  I have a lot of questions about the program and am very interested to see how things will work.  I'll do a completely separate post about all of his improvements and what all we find out after Friday.  For now I'll just say that for all of you that have kept this situation in your prayers - we are seeing them be answered before our eyes.  I am so proud of the strides Jackson's made so far and how this next step will help him even more.  Glory be to God in the highest!

3.  Our 7 year anniversary -  WHAT?!  How have we been married 7 years already?!  It's craziness I tell you.  I still feel like we are those 19 year old kids who were so madly in love that we didn't want to spend one moment away from each other.  But then again, our love has grown into so much more.  Seeing how Bryan has morphed from the young man I fell in love with into this dedicated, loving, incredible husband and father makes my love for him so much deeper than it was back then.  We probably won't be able to do much to celebrate this year, but just having him is gift enough.  And there's no itch in sight! ;-)

4.  Bryan's birthday is just a few days before our anniversary and I'm super pumped about it.  I just might have some tricks up my sleeve this year that he's gonna love...if they pan out.  I can't spill the beans but I can say that I am SO EXCITED about doing something BIG for him this year.  So many times, Bryan's birthday gets overshadowed by our anniversary or the end of the school year but this year IT WILL NOT BE OVERSHADOWED.  He deserves to feel special this year (well, he actually deserves it all the time)! :-)

5.  That brings me to the end of the school year - This semester has been especially stressful for Bryan...ya know with a new baby and all...and he is ready for a break.  Technically he is teaching a Maymester class and an online class in June, but both will be a lot easier on him.  Plus, by teaching those classes he will make some extra cash which we just might use to purchase a new vehicle by the end of the summer.  We aren't positive about it quite yet, but we are seriously considering a mini-van.  I never thought I'd be so excited about the possibility of purchasing a mini-van.  But the extra room and features makes me positively giddy.  Funny how things change once you have children!

6.  Fun with friends and family - I just love how Spring and good weather brings us together with the people we love.  We have so much fun stuff planned already - a day trip to Memphis to go to the zoo, yard sale-ing, shopping trips with my girlfriends and a caravan of kids, our annual church picnic, the start of our Young Adult ministry...and that's just what I can think of off the top of my head.  I'm sure there will be so much more fun stuff that we do this month and the rest of the summer!

7.  PHOTOGRAPHY!!  As you may have seen and I've talked about before, I've started doing some photography. I took a digital photography class this past fall and have fallen in love with taking pictures.  I've done a few shoots here and there and have a lot more on the books this Spring/Summer.  Right now I'm just trying to practice as much as possible with different types of shoots - I've got an engagement shoot, a few Senior shoots, and some family shoots all on the books in the next couple months.  I'm SUPER nervous to see how I'm going to do them and how the pics will come out but I'm also SUPER excited to do them.  Ultimately, I'd love to start making some money and actually have this become a small business but I know that is going to take a little time and I'm not rushing it.  I have so much to learn and I am loving the learning aspect.  Capturing these moments is just such a blessing to me and hopefully to the families that are allowing me to capture them.

Here's some of my favorite shots so far...

My sweet girl
I could eat those toes!

Such a cute couple
My sweet friend Kaycee and her Vince

Baby Norah
Look at that hair!

My boys...swoon!

"Haters gonna hate"
Happy May! XOXO!!