Well, it has been only a few short weeks since we first talked to the doctor about our concerns with Auj and maybe getting her in to see a specialist in order to try to 'figure her out.' When we first found out about trying to get her in to the Schmieding Center, we were extremely excited because it is a great place for kids like Auj, the ones that are a little different for various reasons. Shortly after the excitement at getting her in to be seen at such a great clinic came surprise and disappointment that the waiting time puts us 8-10 months out for an appointment time! Yuck! Not only was it disappointing to find out we might have to wait SO long; we also had some big concerns about where it would leave Auj (and us) if her differences and delays in some areas were not addressed for nearly another year! Ten months from now, she'll already be three years old and that seemed to us too long to wait to find out if there was something we could do to help her. As her parents, we want to do everything we can to help her yesterday or at least right now! Anyway, I have spent the last few weeks in near constant conversation through email or phone calls with various people at the Schmieding Center as well as calling other doctors who've seen her to get medical records sent and in general, to make sure all the 'ducks' are in a row to get the process started. The latest information we have to share is that Auj qualifies for a program called First Connections through the state. This is a program that provides services such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, developmental therapy, and numerous other types of therapy, evaluations, and services for children birth through age three who show a delay 25% or more of their chronological age OR have a medical diagnosis that has a high probability of resulting in development delay. Auj falls in the first category since we do not have a diagnosis as of yet. That is the good thing about the First Connections program. Once we have a referral (which the Schmieding Center is working on as I type), the program will evaluate all of the pages and pages of information, behavioral questionnaires, medical records, etc. that we have filled out and sent over, then decide which evaluations will be done as well as coordinate the professionals to actually come to our house and do the evaluations. After this step is done, the evaluations will be reviewed through First Connections and it will be decided which, if any, services or therapies Auj qualifies for. For example, most likely she will qualify for speech therapy due to her delay in that area. She might also qualify for occupational therapy to address her sensory issues such as her problems with brushing her teeth, sensitivity to sounds, issues with clothing, her tendency to put inappropriate things in her mouth, and lately to put her hands on either sides of her eyes and flap her fingers and growl when things are 'too loud' or there's 'too much happening' (which we call her "monster face," as in she's scaring you so the noise won't scare her, which could be a sensory issue or an issue in other areas or both...), etc. So we are very glad to hear a referral to FC is in the works! Also, I got on the phone this morning to request her records from her Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist that placed her ear tubes be sent to the Schmieding Center. These were the only records they had yet to receive and ironically, some of the most important ones, especially for speech therapy, as they concern her ears and hearing... We found out the week before last that as soon as all of Auj's information was received (including medical records), the records would be forwarded to the Speech/Language Pathologist there at the Schmieding Center. Once the packet was received and reviewed by the Speech/Language Pathologist, an appointment could be scheduled there for a speech evaluation. We also found out that the wait time for a speech evaluation was a month or less!! Yes!!! SO, of course I was on the phone first thing telling the ear doctor to PLEASE fax these records TODAY! (In all fairness, it wasn't the office's fault they had not been sent, but rather the 'third party vendor' that they now use to process most records requests...) Anyway, so we are now hopeful that we will possibly have an appointment scheduled for a speech evaluation to be done at the Schmieding Center or SDC for short, within the week. The actual appointment may not be scheduled until next month, but that is far better than 8-10! We do not yet have a timeline on when the First Connections evaluation might be done because we are in the very early stages of simply getting a referral to the program. I have no idea what the timeline will look like for that, other than most likely it will be sooner than 8-10 months. So, while the last few weeks have felt like years and we've been exasperated at times thinking of the waiting time we might have to endure just to get an initial appointment, we've actually come a long way as far as getting some possible evaluations to get some things started that will be beneficial in the mean time. When we do receive our appointment to the SDC and are seen, we will go knowing that we have done everything possible thus far to help Auj. And as parents who most times don't really know what exactly to do with Auj, that's a very good thing!
In other news, yesterday we ordered the first part of Aid's school curriculum for next year! This was a very exciting thing here at the House of Cockrell because it will be his first "official" school year, so we will get to order some more 'grown up' things like his favorite - Math! Which is actually what we ordered yesterday. Math was a hard decision for us because he seems to show a lot of aptitude for it and really really enjoys it. He literally asks for more math every day! He can add and subtract up to and over 10 either in his head or using manipulatives, tell time to the hour, understands the basics of measurement and fractions, and is getting pretty good with money as well. Naturally, math was the first thing we wanted to decide on and it was also probably the hardest. We debated between several programs such as Horizons math, Math Mammoth, and others. In the end, we went with Math Mammoth Light Blue Series First Grade math curriculum. We liked that it often uses real life illustrations, offered helpful websites and math games to play as reinforcement, was advanced, but not overwhelmingly so, and Mark liked that it was NOT a spiral method of teaching. For those of you who don't know, a "spiral method" of teaching does just that, it introduces concepts, but doesn't require mastery of them before moving on to something else. In other words, you might learn what fact families are, but then move on to talk about time to the half hour before fact families are fully understood, all the while reviewing concepts from previous lessons. In Mark's mind, that is too much information at once and would most likely become confusing rather than beneficial. Spiral methods do have their perks, such as constant review of concepts, and the unlikelihood of boredom because the topics change often, but for a beginning math program, I agreed that we probably should go with a more traditional way of learning. If for no other reason than we don't get confused teaching it! Anyway, we chose Math Mammoth because of this and also because it was extremely reasonably priced and we really liked the sample lessons we were able to get and use. I think we have also narrowed down some other books we'd like to get, but we are definitely not done with the decision-making. For instance, we still need a good phonics program and I have yet to find one I like and that is affordable. For science and social studies, we will be using various sources and aligning the work to the state and common core standards for K-1. In reviewing these, we've found that we've covered many of them already this year, so next year we will hit on the ones not yet covered and go into more detail with the ones we have. My favorite pick so far is a book series called Language Lessons for Little Ones. These are reading/language arts/arts books that cover a wide variety of topics and use poetry, paintings, and literary excerpts to illustrate and teach each concept. I think this is very cool and Aid loves to learn about new artists and poetry, so I'm hoping it is right up our alley.
So now we've made some curriculum decisions, we decided it was time to give our school a name. Mark found that it is helpful to 'name' your homeschool so to have a name to put on transcripts and ID cards that can get us great discounts at various retailers. (And we DO love discounts!) So, after much talk and suggestions (many of them very ridiculous and silly), we decided on The Elm Tree School. Aid was all for the crazier ones that Mark suggested such as the Holy Ghost Tabernacle in the Woods on the Hill Academy or The Oak Grove School for Kids Who Want to Learn to Read and Do Other Stuff Good.... But in the end, we all liked The Elm Tree School. It is both fitting and appropriate, since our front fence row is lined with some pretty big and pretty old Elm trees and school is what we do here. Plus, it just has a nice sound to it. It's comforting and pleasant to say I think and it brings to mind sunny days spent working out math problems in the shade and using the shadows of the trees to illustrate the Pythagorean theorem... It's a little Jane Eyre and a little Robert Louis Stevenson poem all rolled into one. When I say it, I see a reenactment of the Battle of Five Armies with Aid playing Gandalf and Auj and Rosie the pug probably being cast as goblins... I know, this is a very idyllic idea I have of school, and most likely it won't happen that way all the time. But with a name like The Elm Tree School, it might. It just might.