I was warned that any major transition was going to be hard. It wasn't that I didn't take the warning to heart, I just didn't think it would be that hard.
I had already experienced placing Kyle into Kindergarten, then 1st Grade. I figured it would be similar to that with the added complexities that make up Morgan. It was that, but so much more.
It started six months before her 3rd birthday. Morgan had her Physical Therapy appointment and her PT mentioned that I would want to start thinking about which Preschool we would want to send her to since she would be aging out of Early Intervention. "It's a ways away yet," she said. "But you will want to start thinking about."
And I did start thinking about it. I knew our options would be limited since Morgan herself was fairly limited in her abilities yet. How would she let me know if she was having a hard time? Would the teachers be able to read her enough to meet her needs considering all her medical problems? All this flowed through my mind and more. I told myself to follow the process, and just wait and see. I told myself it would be fine and that she would be fine. Wouldn't she?
The first meeting was schedule 3 months before her birthday. It was called a Transfer Conference and all interested parties would be there to begin the discussion of where to best place her. I think there were about 7 people there if I remember correctly. Maybe more. Each serving a different role. It went well, but I admit that I was nervous when talk began of how Morgan would sit at a table and participate in group activities and my brain kept asking "how?" I remember Morgan was having a good day and was showing the gathering how strong she was, so some assumed she could sit in a chair on her own. Morgan's Physical Therapist and Vision Specialist from Early Intervention were there and helped with some of the clarification. And again I told myself, follow the process. This group of people have worked with kids like her before. This thought gave me comfort, but I was still apprehensive.
Morgan's Evaluation was scheduled for the following month. When the day came, I was prepared for a long afternoon. Evaluations are always tough because Morgan never looks good on paper. Evaluations are always reminders of all the things she can't do. I was ready for that. I was also ready to share everything about her that would make this new team of people understand her better. Turns out I was pleasantly surprised at how thorough they were. They took meticulous notes and asked me so many questions that I began to feel better about the process.
I discussed, in length, with Morgan's Early Intervention Team about her Preschool options. One option was to send her to the Utah School for the Deaf and Blind and the other, to a Special Needs Preschool closer to home. I visited one of them with Morgan and continued to learn and discuss the other. We decided the best option was to send her to the Special Needs Preschool which was closer to home. They would be able to make the appropriate adaptations for her. Less time traveling on the bus and shorter days. Deep breath. I was just hoping that I had made the right decision.
The IEP Meeting
Finally, the big day came. The greatly anticipated Individual Education Plan (IEP) Meeting. This is where we would hammer out the fine details of everything from the Therapies Morgan would receive in school to her Medical Care Plan. I was both excited and nervous. Morgan's Early Invention Team were there and all the members and representatives of her new team as well. I sat down and tried to remember everyone's name and role as they went around the room and introduced themselves. Not included Morgan and I, there were 12 people at this meeting. Good. They are taking this seriously, I thought.
They presented the plan, I asked questions, they modified the plan. I described certain things Morgan would do, Morgan's Early Intervention Team would clarify on things she was doing and things we were working on, developments we wanted to maintain the momentum on.
Morgan would receive Physical Therapy, Vision Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy in school. We decided on the goals and what we would do to meet those goals. The the discussion turned to her Medical Care Plan. The District Nurse and her Preschool Teacher listened and took lots of notes. Finally the meeting came to an end. Completely spent, Morgan and I headed home.
The emails with the many forms and paperwork came through a few days later. Corrections to documents were made and sent, more questions and clarifications, then my signature on everything. Finally, Morgan was ready to start Preschool.
The Big Day
Morgan's first day of Preschool finally came around. I was a nervous wreck. I wasn't sure how I was going to get through the day. All the work that went into getting her there seemed like it just wasn't enough. That anything could go wrong. I was sending my medically fragile, non-verbal, wheelchair dependent 3-year-old to Preschool. Let's see how she does. This seems like a bad experiment, I thought.
I packed her backpack. Meds, check. Formula and bottle, check. Ankle Foot Orthotics, check. Snack, check. Diapers and wipes, check. Etc. She'll be fine, she'll be fine.
I told Morgan that she was going to school and drove her over. I dropped her off, drove a block away, pulled over and cried. I love this girl with everything that's in me and I now had to trust someone else, or rather a team of someone's, to take good care of my heart and soul.
The time finally came to go pick her up. Of course I was early. I saw her being wheeled out to the drop-off and pick-up lane her legs kicking and squealing in delight. My heart soared. There she is! And she was very happy. Her teacher told me all about how she did and that her first day went really well. I discovered a report about Morgan's day in her backpack when we got home. A report that I would be getting every day of school.
We got used to the new schedule and Morgan let me know that she LOVED going to school. Her face lit up every time we started the drive over.
We survived the transition. Morgan is working with a good team of people. And I'm infinitely grateful for that. And very relieved. Everything is okay.