The Preschool Plan is in Place

4bcf676a45099a6754a1f5e5c271565bI can’t even put into words how great Cooper’s teacher is and how amazing his IEP meeting went. I fell in love instantly. She was the perfect combination of  calm, fun, loving and educational. This is the FIRST time throughout this school evaluation positive that I have felt happy. And positive.

Jamie and I met in his future classroom with his teacher, 2 speech therapists, 1 occupational therapist, the special education  director and 1 classroom aid. First, we sat at a tiny table with tiny chairs. I loved it. I felt comfortable. It was good juju.

We spent 2 hours discussing his IEP. It was long and I am so thankful that it is all done. We survived. I feel like we are finally to the doers of the group. These are my peeps. I am a doer.

His teacher asked us to tell her all about Cooper. That was huge for me. I have mentioned in my past posts that I have felt like Cooper was a fictitious kid on paper. His teacher made him a real 3 year old boy. I started out by telling her that he is the cutest thing she will ever see and every one at the table agreed. I followed it up with a 3 minute overview of Cooper.  I told her how he gets extremely silly when he is frustrated. That he refuses to try. I talked about how he loves hugging and holding hands and dancing to music. And his laugh is infectious. And that he will turn everything into a ball and throw it. And that he would trade his own mother in for 5 minutes on an iPad. And that he is my baby and I want him to thrive and learn. And so on. She engaged with me and asked questions. She asked me what we hope Cooper get’s out of school. I was kind of taken aback.  No one has asked me this yet.

I then word vomited all over her. I want him to learn and make friends. I want him to engage with people and sit at a table and color a picture. I want him to communicate. I want him to be able to put his shoes on. I want him to share. And after 2 minutes or so of that I said I wanted hope for Jamie and I. Hope that Cooper isn’t the WORST kid. And she understood every word. I could tell that she has heard it all from other mom’s like me. It felt really good.

Cooper will start school September 15th and attend 5 days a week from 11:15 to 2:15. While the times are horrible for parent’s who work during the day(and I have NO  idea how we are going to make it work) I am so excited that he will have lunch there. If there is one area that we need help in it is meal time. As of right now, his class will have 5 kids in it with 4 teachers. AMAZING.

So, I don’t know what is typical on an IEP since I am new to all of this. Cooper has 3 goals with MANY measurable objectives under each one. If this kid does half the stuff they are hoping for I will be ecstatic. One of the sentences in his IEP says: “Cooper currently has big smiles  when around peers, watches them and is starting to imitate them.” I have heard from others that not all IEP’s have positives in them. Cooper’s did. Thank God.

  1. By June 2015, Cooper will demonstrate functional schools in   his new preschool setting, going from displaying distress loudly in  a new setting and needing food treats to sit at a table, TO independently removing/putting on  out wraps, learning to follow teacher’s directions using  a first/then sequence, to accept changes to familiar routines and finding  his printed first name via use of visuals in  individual  small group lessons.
  2. By June 2015, Cooper will participate in school groups, going FROM repeatedly coming to/leaving group activities at will and very limited time seated at a table, TO coming to groups and participating in school routine groups involving pre-academics, music, art, gym and  lunch and staying until group transitions, via us of visual signals, communicate sequence/expectations and indicate end of group.
  3. By June 2015, Cooper will demonstrate new self regulation, problem solving, and social interaction skills, going FROM parallel play, seconds of imitative play, screaming to indicate frustration   TO learning self calming techniques, turn-taking/trading with a peer, cooperative play with a peer for 3 minutes and demonstrate new play routines with variations via participation in small social groups which incorporate visual sequences.

I can’t imagine Cooper doing these things  and I am EXTREMELY HOPEFULL that it will happen. I can’t wait actually. I can’t wait to see him grow and learn.

I think it may be hard for some people to understand that I am not trying to CHANGE Cooper. I’m past that. I’ve accepted that he is who he is and I love him. But, we MUST start making life easier. Jamie and I can’t continue at this pace with so little reward. I believe in my heart that school is going to help Cooper.

I am in no way wishing our summer away but I am so excited for September.

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Kate Swenson

Kate Swenson lives in Minnesota with her husband Jamie, and four children, Cooper, Sawyer, Harbor and Wynnie. Kate launched Finding Cooper's Voice from her couch while her now 11-year-old son Cooper was being diagnosed with autism. Back then it was a place to write. Today it is a living, thriving community of people who want to not only advocate for autism, but also make the world a better place for individuals with disabilities and their families. Her first book, Forever Boy, will be released, April 5, 2022.

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  1. Meg C. DeBoe on June 6, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    So exciting!!

  2. miriamgwynne on June 6, 2014 at 8:19 pm

    A good school is worth it’s wait in gold. You WILL find a way to work those hours out and it WILL be worth it. A year in Coopers life will see so much change, I can promise you that. Xx

  3. rgemom on June 6, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    That is an awesome IEP meeting. I think it puts a momma’s heart at ease to be able to say “this is my kid, these are the amazing things about him.” Sounds like you guys have an amazing team for Cooper and they will help him reach those objectives.

  4. thjuliepeterson on June 7, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    Amazing!! I am so excited for you all and so excited to hear about his progress. Kudos to you guys for all of your hard work to get to this point!!

  5. Laura on June 8, 2014 at 2:57 am

    So glad you finally had a good day with good news!! I’m so excited for you and Cooper!!

  6. ontheupcyclemom on June 8, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    I am so glad to hear all went well! My daughter loves Preschool so far, and has been doing super well in just a few weeks, Erin’s teacher and aids are also great with the one teacher having over 30 yrs special education experience. I think you will be pleasently surprised once he starts school Yay I am so happy for you! : )

  7. Jill on June 9, 2014 at 3:31 am

    yay!! Go Cooper Go!

  8. kristenkj on June 9, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    I’m so glad for you that the meeting went well! Do you know what else I think? I think that preschool will give you an ounce of separation…it will give you time with your other son…time alone…time away, so that when Cooper comes home those days, you will have even more to give him. I know you will never lose hope in him. Don’t even lose faith in your own strength, either. Good luck!

  9. Claire Hackett on June 10, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    Kate, great news! Congrats! Does your district offer transportation? We are able to get transportation to and from the special school back to the daycare? Also, then we only have to pay part time for daycare so that is also a blessing. Just a thought!