I don’t do these posts too much anymore, partly for Teagie’s privacy, and partly because I feel that a better use of this blog is to give insight into what it is like to be a part of a special needs family. I want to introduce this world to family, friends, everyone, so that this part of life isn’t something that should make anyone uncomfortable. But as it’s the end of the school year, it seemed like a good time for an update.
Teagan had a very happy year at Arbor Lakes. She was in a class of six children with a variety of special needs. Along with her teacher, Ms. Katie, there were two classroom assistants, and then a physical, occupational, and speech therapist that she worked – all of whom were wonderful.
Teagan and Ms. Katie
Her last progress report, which happens every six months, wasn’t that great. And I’m not even mad – yes Teagan has her own strengths and challenges, but I’m glad her teachers give it to me straight, and that they are holding her to high expectations. The most reoccurring problem is that Teagan looks to adults for guidance and approval – at this age, we’d like to see her more interested in engaging with her peers, as well as participating in activities on her own, without seeking adult approval. One of her goals was to play or participate in one activity on her own for five minutes…we’re still working on this one. She is easily distracted by other students or the classroom around her.
She also still requires a lot of prompts and enthusiasm from adults to complete tasks. If she doesn’t want to do something, she give an enthusiastic “NO,” or knocks the materials on the ground, or acts silly and tries to avoid whomever is trying to get her to complete the activity. Sigh. This is something we will continue to work on.
One area we are very pleased with is her speech. Between school, private therapy with our speech pathologist LeeAnn, and her little sister becoming a talker (and WOW is Alice a talker), Teagan is being pushed and making great progress. She LOVES going to see LeeAnn, and asks almost every day if we’re going to “Lee-Ahnns, af-ta nap.”
We work on a whole host of different things with LeeAnn, from new words to specific sounds to how to drink out of a cup (this is difficult because of Teagan’s low tone – she compensates by wrapping her tongue around a straw or cup). LeeAnn comments regularly on how pleased she is to see Teagan doing something new every week, and is very happy about the increase in her Mean Length of Utterance. What is that? Oh, let me show you what I’ve learned! 😉 It’s basically the number of words, with extra points for things like making a world plural or changing tenses. “I like dog” would have a MLU of 3. “I like dogs” would have an MLU of 4. Last week, Teagan said to me “Alice all done in the bath,” which is a really long sentence for her! Her words come out slowly, and not pronounced perfectly, but I’m so glad she is gradually becoming more able to share the thoughts going on in her head.
Working hard with LeeAnn
We will miss the teachers and therapists from this past year very much, as well as a wonderful little friend Teagan made at school. Her name is Molly, she has down syndrome, and Teagan talked about her EVERY day. Molly was sick the last day of school and I’m so bummed I didn’t get a picture of the two of them together, they were the cutest little pair. Luckily, Molly lives pretty close to us, so her mom and I will make sure to get the two buddies together.
Next year Teagan will start her third year of preschool, and…drum roll please…BE IN A REGULAR CLASSROOM!! Three days a week, she will be in a class with typically developing children, and one day a week she will be in a small special needs class. The teachers from this year and Joel and I went back on forth on this a few times. Because Teagan is timid, we didn’t want her to be left by the wayside in a regular class…but we are eager for her to learn from other children, plus this will make kindergarten less of a shock. So it is something we are going to monitor closely once the school year starts to make sure it is the best situation for her and she is getting the most out of school that she can – but I’m excited to give it a try!
Fun in the neighborhood
As for now, Team Petersen plans to enjoy the summer. We have a few of our regular summer trips planned – up north to Breezy point, down south to Iowa for family and friends – as well as lots of neighborhood fun. We are lucky to have families with two year old twins, a three and a five year old, and a one and a half year old, all in our backyard – never a dull moment around here!