Working as a child life specialist at a pediatric inpatient rehabilitation hospital, I became familiar with the variety of therapies offered to our patients. Occupational, speech, psychology and physical therapists worked with the children on improving specific goals. The staff worked really well together and communicated to both the patients and their families. I understood the importance of therapy and the terminology used. I tried to always have a high level of empathy and sensitivity towards our patient’s and the challenges that they faced. I also supported the families who were coping with their child’s hospitalization and all the additional stresses that come along with it.
Fast forward four years and I have now found myself as a parent trying to navigate my son’s way through receiving services from the Committee of Preschool Special Education. When his teachers brought their concern to my attention, I felt a huge sense of guilt. How could I have missed this? With my professional background and experience working in a rehab setting, I should have been more on top of it. I think I was hoping he would “out grow” it by the age of four, but that obviously didn’t happen.
I’m still in the beginning stages of this whole process. I have contacted the school that he would be attending in kindergarten and was connected with their liaison for parents and CPSE. I met with a therapist at that school who also confirmed his preschool teacher’s suggestion on receiving services.
I have filled out a dozen forms, gathered additional paperwork from his pediatrician and teachers and I have chosen an agency to do a formal evaluation on him. Whew! The hardest part was just reading some of the questions about your child, their behavior, temperament, what they can and can’t do. The questions were intense and heavy at times. I was now in the footsteps that my former patient’s parents had gone through. I felt a larger connection with them thinking, “Oh, I really get it now.”
The agency has done their evaluations and we are now waiting for our formal meeting with a lot of important people; some one from CPSE, the agency, school district, parent advocate and my husband and I.
Through all of this, I have felt nothing but support and sensitivity from the professionals we have been in contact with. They have made this much easier and less overwhelming. My friends who are also going through similar situations have also been a great support system.
I know that there are still gaps in service. What are those and how can we adjust them? I am curious to hear other parent’s and professional’s experiences in this area.