Part Three: Abby will Shine
I am honored and proud to give you an update on Abby--what mom doesn't like to talk about her children??!!
Abby is doing very well in preschool. She is working on all the same things that every preschool child is working on; learning her colors, to recognize her name, letters and numbers.
I was amazed to see how she acted one day when we went to visit her brother's first grade classroom for a special activity. She sat at his desk with him and listened to the teacher. She raised her hand when the teacher asked a question. When the class went to the carpet to hear a story, she was right next to her brother, sitting cross-legged on the floor, listening intently. I was so proud and I realized at that moment that Abby may not know all of her letters and numbers, but Abby certainly knows how to be a student in a classroom. She knows how to follow directions, listen and be a part of a group. That is a big victory for her and for all of us as well.
We all want our children to be a part of the group, to fit in and act appropriately. Her sister Aleah, who is 1 year younger than her, has surpassed her in many ways, but in this situation, it was Abby's turn to shine. Aleah hasn't been to school yet and when she goes, I know she will quickly learn to be a good student too, but for now, this was Abby's moment and I was loving it!
We had Abby's IEP (Individual Education Plan) meeting this past month and were thrilled to hear how well she is progressing. Her teachers and therapist were wonderful. It was obvious how well they know Abby and how comfortable Abby is at school. We had a chance to peek in on her while she was working on her school activities. She was happy, attentive and involved in what she was doing. At one point, we were meeting in a separate room and Abby came out of the classroom with one of the aides. She saw us as she was walking down the hall and simply smiled and said "Mama? Hi Mama!" and then kept going. When we went to get her from the classroom later, the other children had left for the day and the aides were having their lunch. Abby was sitting right in the middle of them, swinging her legs and eating a yogurt someone had given her.
I tell you all of this because this is the same girl that used to cry when I went out to get the mail, the same one that I was convinced was not emotionally and socially ready for preschool!
She has made progress in so many areas. She knows some of her colors and can say so many words now. She is not using signs as much. We are working on having her say more than one word at a time, but sometimes she will surprise us. One night at the dinner table, her brother was laughing at something and she looked right at him and said, "Not funny, Tommy!" I almost fell out of my chair!
I attribute her huge growth in the speech and language area to her being at school with other children and her wonderful speech therapist, Sue Collins. At home, Abby didn't have to work too hard to be understood. Mom's know what their kids want before they even ask. But at school, Abby had to communicate and that need has encouraged great growth in that area.
We are thinking about having Abby attend a typical preschool a few days a week next year with her sister. The details still have to be worked out. We are considering a 3 year old class even though Abby is 4 in the hopes that it would be more developmentally appropriate. If all goes as planned, she would attend the typical preschool with her sister and cousin on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and still go to the IU (Intermediate Unit) preschool on Tuesday and Thursday where she will get her therapies. I am excited and nervous at this prospect. I am hopeful that the teacher will be open to trying this, which will probably be a new experience for her. I know that Abby will win her over from the first day if she will only give her a chance. I feel strongly that Abby deserves to be there, but I also know it may be difficult for her.
I am thinking it may be difficult for me too. It will be one of the first times that I have let her go out into that "typical" world without me. It will be a time that I am holding my breath, hoping and praying that kids will be nice, that she will have friends and fit in. It will be the first of many of those times I am sure. I hope I get better at it as time goes on!
I once heard that having a child is like having your heart walking around outside your body for the rest of your life. That is so true. I am so proud of Abby and as much as I want to protect her and keep her with me, I know what is best for her is to give her a chance. I know she will shine.
Have you read Abby's story?
Discover the beginning of Abby's story in Part One: A Milestone for Abby, then read Part Two: Abby Takes on Preschool.
Now available: Part Four! Read about Abby and her families' journey!
This story first appeared on PA's Promise for Children in 2010.