It's that time again... time to look at what we've accomplished and where we're headed. Or I should say what BRASKA'S accomplished, since I'm not working all that hard, but she IS.
Let me back up for the sake of those who are newer to this fun of acronyms. IFSP is the individualized family service plan that is initially done with a kid enters the EI (Early Intervention) system, normally soon after birth for kids with special needs. Every 6 months, or when a change needs to be made sooner (OR when you change states), it is reviewed and updated. This goes on from birth to the 3rd birthday. In our experience, it has included the service coordinator--who keeps everything in line and organized regarding all our services/therapies needed, the various therapists and service providers, and the parent(s). We basically walk through the various therapy categories relating to the goals that we set 6 months ago, discussing how she has done, what goals she's met, what she needs to work on now, and then specifying what goals to set for this next period.
We moved to Missouri right after Braska was 18 months, so it works out nicely now that her meetings fall close to her birthday and half-birthday. I like things nice and neat like that.
So Monday afternoon was the big day. I don't really fear these meetings like some seem to, but it's not like it's fun either. I like our team, so it's not their fault. It's just sometimes hard to sit down and plot out what you want your kid to accomplish in the next 6 months. And I knew that some goals would not change from the last 6 months, in our case. Thanks to Little Miss Refuse-to-Eat. In attendance were Miss C (best service coordinator ever!), the OT, PT, and ST(By the way, that's occupational, physical, and speech therapy...all the letters...), and the nutritionist. Oh yeah, and I was there too. Of course, they always sit on the floor! Come on, people, why do I have sofas and why did I clear them of laundry and toys?!? Silly girls. They humored me and sat on the sofas. Aren't they nice?
Overall, it went well. I was pleased that everyone seemed to largely be on the same page as far as what we're looking at for the next few months, and they were very cool about the changes I wanted to make. I won't go into great detail. If you're interested in the goals, I can add more on them when I get the official copy of the updated IFSP in a few weeks. But I'll just give you an idea of what we're aiming for and what we changed or tweaked.
Kiddin' Around-- This is a new thing for us. We actually went on Monday morning and observed; well, actually we got to sit in for a bit of class. It's what I call pre-preschool, for kids that are 2 and receive some kind of EI services (if I understand it right), but there are a variety of issues. There were 5 kids there, though the teacher told me they would be getting 4 or 5 more in January when Braska starts. Her buddy, Jack, is one of those...and we're very excited that they're "starting school" together. One of the little girls in the class now has DS, and she's adorable, of course. Quite a live wire too. So there will be at least 3 of 10, and that seems cool to me. Side note: Since we live only blocks from Jack and he's just less than a month older than Braska, I'm hoping that they can go through school together. That would be so cool for a kid of mine, since I never went to the same school for more than 3 years. Anyway, KA is a weekly class, I think for a couple hours, and the teacher, Miss A, seems very nice. Since we'll be adding this weekly, and due to Kinlee's impending arrival, we decided to make some other adjustments to the schedule. Braska will start KA at the beginning of January, and from what we saw for the short while we were there on Monday, I think she's going to like it. She liked sitting in the circle in her chair and singing songs. She picked up on the Hooray! parts like a pro. And the romper room....it's like toddler heaven in the form of a colorful, cool playroom! I feel good about it fitting well into what we're working on with her now, and I like Miss A's approach to the few things we chatted about.
PT--This has been weekly, and we're keeping it that way. Braska has very low muscle tone, even for a kid with DS, so she has to work VERY hard at gross motor skills like crawling, standing, and taking steps. This is probably her most difficult element. She's just getting to where she will cruise a little at the couch, more at the bathtub. She loves to take steps when she's holding our hands, but she's not strong enough to hold it together to stand or step on her own. She'll get there, but we'll keep working hard in the meantime. She tries hard...it just takes so much more effort than it seems like it should for her. Braska likes her PT very much, so that helps alot.
ST--This has been weekly for about the last year or so. As many of you know, this is Braska's strength, in my opinion, and I think the pros would agree. She understands instructions and minds them, for the most part, and she is loving adding more verbal communication every day. Since we know that right now she is very self-motivated, we are going to back off to every other week. This will help me in easing the schedule, and we do not feel it will harm her at all at this point. We'll continue all the work we do at home on these things, which is quite a bit of reading, singing, and practicing words, sounds, and letters. And the ST sessions will focus on labeling (like pointing at a picture of milk when asked which is the milk) and working on two-word combinations. Miss J has some good ideas of what to do for our next steps, so I think Braska will continue to do well, even with the change in schedule.
OT--This has been weekly, and it has varied alot. Our OT in C-U was also kind of our PT for the first year of Braska's life and helped her through sitting, and transitioning to sitting, and working on crawling. Once we came here, our first OT was all about feeding, which was what our goals were for that area. When we changed to our current OT, the approach changed, and it has been more about interacting with food but not so much eating. Braska's never had much focus on fine motor in the "classic" sense, and she's not making any great strides in feeding, so I decided that I wanted to let go of the food element for now and go with more of the fine motor in a play-based environment. Her issues with feeding are less about sensory problems with food and more behavioral. Plainly, she's stubborn!! Well, that might only be 95% of it, but still. The cool thing with scheduling OT is that our OT is based in the same facility location as KA, so she is going to see her for sessions there during KA every other week. I think that's wonderful, and I think Braska will probably respond favorably to that change. It will ease up our schedule too. Big thanks to the OT for doing that!
Nutrition--We've been seeing the nutritionist every other week for a few months, and she works on introducing foods and feeding. Braska cooperates pretty well considering her history, but it's slow going for sure. We're going to keep it the same for now and continue this part of her feeding work. Honestly, we are just not worried about this. She will get it. It may take watching kids at school and her little sister eat and enjoy yummy food to get her to take an interest. And that's fine. We're definitely at a no-stress point with the feeding thing. It's exhausting to make it a big deal. It will come. I've no doubt. In the meantime, it takes all of 5 minutes to feed her and there's no mess. What's to complain about?!?
So there you have it....that's the important part of the meeting. It was interesting to look back over the IFSP from June and see how type A I was, and then to note how nonchalant I am about this stuff now. Life changes, priorities change, and the kid's needs change. We're alot more laid back now, and I like it. Miss C did make mention of the transition meeting in the spring. What?? Do we have to talk about that already?? Actually, I tease her, but I'm not so worried about it. I've got faith in this bunch to get us where we need to go, and I like that we have a few options about frequency for when she starts preschool next fall after the transition on her 3rd birthday. We'll deal with that later... For now, I feel good about the goals we came up with, the plan for the next few months, and Braska's progress.
Oh yeah, and I did let them know that we'd probably be off a few weeks in February when we're trying to figure out how to have 2 girls to deal with. I've gained a bit of wisdom since planning only a few days off when I had Braska! Ha...little did I know...
If you have questions about any of this, feel free to ask!