My baby Julian turned three on June 5! I can’t believe it. This means that he is placing out of the 0-3 Early Intervention program for children with special needs.
He will now go to the integrated public preschool in our town, which happens to be located in the building of the school in our district, Harrington. The preschool starts this coming Monday, July 8 and the summer session will be 9 – noon M-Th. Then the fall session will start and that is M – F 8:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Julian’s last day at his old school (well it is really a daycare but we called it school) LINC, where he attended M W F from 8:30 – 5:30 p.m. since he was 10 months old, was June 28 (Anderson’s birthday!). Saying goodbye to all of his teachers and friends there was a bit emotional. I cried.
At Julian’s new school called Lexington Children’s Place he will receive speech therapy (3x week), occupational therapy (2x week) and physical therapy (2x week). He will be in an integrated classroom with 12 students and four teachers. Half of the class has some sort of special need (and IEPs, or Individualized Education Plans), and half doesn’t.
I also thought I’d share the document that one of Julian’s LINC teachers shared with us in order to help prepare his new teachers. It is a little window into Julian and how he operates during the day at school. Julian has really been flourishing in the school environment with his peers and I can’t wait for this next step. I am a little nervous but confident that my little man will do well.
My “little charmer”
Does this child have any allergies or restrictions?
No known food allergies or food restrictions at this time.
What is the most effective way to comfort this child?
Hugs, calm reassurance. Julian does not make ANY sound when he cries, and tries to hide the fact that he is crying. We have had to watch his face carefully throughout the day to know when he is upset. However, the times he gets upset are very rare. When fearful of peers, he is likely to silently cry in fear. Reading books is also a very calming/comforting activity for Julian.
What are some toys this child plays with frequently?
Books are an activity of choice for Julian. He often needs to be encouraged to explore other areas of the room, as opposed to focusing exclusively on books. We were just starting to see him be more willing to explore the room independently, as his fear of his peers began decreasing. The book area was often quiet and secluded, with few peers, so part of his resistance to leaving that area may have been due to it being a good place to avoid the “busy-ness” of other children. He also loves any kind of art project, both at the table or at the easel. We called him our little Picasso. J Challenging puzzles, fine motor tasks and ANYTHING having to do with numbers or letters was also a favorite.
What activities may this child avoid?
As the activity or noise level of his peers increases, Julian is likely to flee the area. He often needed teacher support and reassurance to not flee, even when a peer came to just sit beside him. This was improving within the last several months. He was just becoming more comfortable joining into the mix with his peers. It was never that an activity bothered him, but instead that the peers in the area bothered him.
Does this child prefer playing with peers or playing alone?
See above. Prefers solitary play, but just recently saw him begin to both initiate contact and play with peers, as well as accept play invites, even from older children. LOVES interactions with ANY adult.
How does this child handle separations?
Very well. It was rare to see him hesitate at drop off. Settling right in with a teacher with a book was a common drop off routine that Julian enjoyed. Julian is always social with adults, even adults that he does not know.
How does this child handle transitions?
Julian may need extra prompting to stop his task (even after warnings) and join the children at the door during transition times. A teacher often had to take him by the hand and lead him to the door to transition with the group. It was common for Julian to purposely bolt (with a smile on his face) during our walks in the hallway and run in the other direction. He would not stop or respond to our verbal instructions to come back. He was very quiet (and fast) when bolting, so be prepared J. We either held his hand during all transitions or made sure a teacher was right behind him at all times during transitions for safety reasons. He would also quietly bolt out of the classroom when the door was open. For safety reasons, we kept our classroom door closed as a result.
How do you know when this child is not feeling well?
This is difficult. Julian will not cry or complain even when hurt. The only signs we had would be Julian seeming more lethargic and less interactive than usual.
How does this child eat? Favorite foods?
Julian has been eating with adult sized utensils and drinking from an open regular plastic cup all year in our classroom. He needs help opening his lunch containers, but attempts it willingly. Yogurt is a favorite food! Julian would have ups and downs in terms of food intake. Some days eating a lot, some days not. He feeds himself completely independently and is very clear about when he is all done (verbally saying “all done.”). At the beginning of the year, Julian refused all snacks and even sometimes lunch. He would cry and become very distressed when we tried to seat him at the table. We quickly learned that it had nothing to do with not wanting to eat, but instead that he was fearful of sitting that close to peers – especially peers that tended to be loud and active. To help this situation, we placed Julian at the head of the table, where he had no peers directly on either side of him, and he could see out over all his peers. This helped immediately. Soon after that, he gained confidence and trust with his peers and no longer shows any hesitation sitting with any peers at any seat at the table. Be warned that what may seem like disinterest in eating is possibly a fear about being around new peers instead.
How does this child go to sleep?
Julian needs a teacher with him at nap time to encourage him to stay on his mat. Without a teacher nearby, Julian will repetitively leave his mat and repetitively test limits, even with teacher redirection. Julian is usually very vocal at naptime, practicing his sounds, letters, and counting. We are pretty sure we even saw him running through his speech therapy work during the quiet of nap time on many many occasions. Once asleep, Julian would sleep for two or 2.5 hours. It is normal for Julian to sleep with his eyes open.
Can this child set up his mat for nap time?
Julian can take his napping things from his cubbie to his mat for nap time, and upon awakening, return his napping things to his cubbie.
Julian was offered the potty at every diaper change. He was somewhat fearful of our potty because his legs couldn’t reach the ground. Placing a stool under his feet while seated on the potty made him feel more secure. He is able to go to the bathroom on the potty (when comfortable), but does not tell us when he needs to use the potty.
Julian is extremely focused on mastering tasks that are a challenge for him, especially in the gross motor domain. He will practice climbing a ladder over and over, for over 30 minutes, until able to master it. His confidence on the playground has recently exploded in terms of both gross motor tasks (running, walking up and down a steep hill) and peer interactions. He now can be seen wandering around the entire playground constantly engaged in tasks and just recently, has begun to sit down and join a group of peers for play on the playground.
Julian dropped the use of ASL with us several months ago and uses exclusively verbal communication with us. He is very clear in his wants and needs and will state them verbally to you. Even when he exclusively used sign, Julian was able to communicate all wants and needs to us very effectively.
Julian can identify numbers and letters, and sight read many words. He can also point and count (verbally) with one to one correspondence at least up to five (most likely higher).
In order to increase Julian’s confidence in our classroom, we often looked for opportunities where Julian could teach the other students and make him the “expert.” We had “sign circles” – a circle time that Julian led, where HE taught the other children various ASL signs. We also made sure that despite how quiet and reserved he was, Julian made his voice and power known with his peers – encouraging him to verbally, confidently say yes or no to peers (with teacher prompting) and making sure his peers stopped and waited for Julian’s response before moving on.
Julian is much loved by us and we all have been dreading his goodbye. You will very quickly see why, as you are sure to fall in love with him very quickly as well. Take good care of “our boy” – we might feel a little over protective of him J – all out of our love and amazement for one ridiculously amazing child. We will miss him greatly.
Please feel free to contact me at any time, with any questions or info on Julian.
Ashley Young, M.A.
TCC at LINC