Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Preschool Graduation

Conner graduated from preschool last Friday. He went to three different preschools in 3 years (4 if you count camp) but finished up at a perfect place for him. The graduation included the kindergarten and the 2 classes of 4 year olds. Conner's class got to do 2 songs first and then at the end all the kids were on stage with their teachers to do a few more. They received certificates from one of the Rabbi's that comes to school every Friday. Conner did an awesome job on stage and although I'm not sure he was singing too much (he has a bit of stage fright!), he did do some of the hand motions. He was able to be on stage by himself with his classmates and we were really proud of him. His papa and aunt (cousin) and cousin along with me, David and B were there. Afterwards, they had some snacks in the class and then Conner stayed to play with a few friends for the rest of the day.

Lining up on stage getting ready for their graduation performance

the hand motions for the song were something about shaking their hands.

Conner standing next to his good buddy for the "ahavah" song.

Obviously SHE knows the hand motions a little better than Conner!

getting his preschool diploma and shaking the Rabbi's hand!
got the diploma...a Preschool Graduate!!

The whole preschool on stage. Behind Conner are some of the wonderful teachers that made this year such a success for him!
One of Conner's awesome teachers who helped him down the steps. Conner absolutely LOVED "Miss Erika"!

Conner's "advocate" who helped make this year such an amazing success for him. Even though she was there for him, she also helped him to become so much more independent. We are forever grateful to Miss Julie and we are so glad to have one more year with her. She has made such a huge impact in Conner's life.

Conner on the playground after school. This is such a good picture of him...I can see a smile AND his eyes all in one picture!
Conner playing Mini-Golf at the camp at the last day of school picnic. I'm so glad he will be going to camp here!

One of the most fantastic preschools around. Miss Robin was so great with Conner and taught him so much. We are so grateful that she was Conner's teacher this year and gave him such a wonderful school year.

The school that Conner attended this year was so great for him. He had two wonderful teachers and a wonderful 1 on 1 (advocate). I feel so lucky that he was able to have this experience. When the year began, I really had no idea what to expect but all my hopes were exceeded. Conner is doing so many things that he wasn't doing before. There are things that are still really hard for him, but socially and behaviorally, he did so great. He made some really nice friends and although he was only at the school for a year with them, it gave me hope for his future schooling. Conner especially loved the girls he met this year and those are the only ones he wants at his birthday party!  The full inclusion program at his school is so perfect for him. He had the opportunity to be with typical kids and gain some really important skills and was treated just like everyone else. I know none of his teachers or administrators will ever read this but to all of the individuals that helped us this year, that had any interaction with my special boy, I am forever grateful to you for your kindness, warmth and compassion. You all are such a wonderful group of people and Conner has learned so much from you.

During the last week of school, we met with the Director of the Special Needs program and also went to a parent meeting for Camp (at his school). Initially, Conner was going to the preschool camp first session and regular camp (for kindergarten) 2nd session but the more we talked about it, the more we thought it was better for him to be with his friends in the "big" camp all summer. So we made the switch and Conner will be in the kindergarten camp group. I'm excited and anxious for him to have this experience. I'm hoping he'll love it!

It was such a good year that Conner will attend the same school for kindergarten. Right now, it's a really small class. Hopefully they will get a couple more kids, but I'm hopeful that he will have just as good of an experience.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

June 6, 2012

I don't know why the past few days have been so tough. Maybe it's because Conner is getting older and I'm getting a little more sensitive. Maybe I just expect more from other kids and parents. Maybe I'm just scared about the future. But we went to a place today that we have been before to play. It's a pretty new place and Conner had a good time the last time we went. Conner loves playing with other kids, but he doesn't mind playing by himself, especially if he doesn't know the other kids. Anyway, long story short, the kids were mean. They couldn't have been older than 5 and the mother was sitting right there. You know that I gave those kids the stink eye...I glared at them if they even thought about saying something to Conner. But I did hear some comments like "he can't do it, he can't run, he doesn't know his name". When we got home, I was telling David about it and Conner said, "that boy was rude". I don't know...I think I just have higher expectations for people. I thought that the world was becoming more accepting of kids with different abilities. Boy was I wrong.

Monday, June 4, 2012

BREAKTHROUGH!! - June 4, 2012

Tonight when I was reading to Conner, he started doing something that has been SO hard for him. Conner can count but when it comes to counting things he just never seemed like he knew how to do it. He would always just point and count aimlessly. Part of me wondered if he just can't concentrate long enough to make it make sense. It gets frustrating for him, for us, for teachers. Well, we were reading a book and all of a sudden Conner started pointing at things and counting. He was being silly and saying "3, 0, 1" and I said, let's do it together. He replied "I want to do it by myself" and he showed me correctly. Then we proceeded to count fingers, toes, ears, cars, etc. And then I said, "can you count by 10's?" and he just did it. This might seem small to some people, but to me, it was huge. Feels like a big breakthrough. He's getting it. It's a step.

June 3, 2012 - Teary

Today we tried to take a family walk. Conner started out so excited to put on his roller skates (the kind that go on shoes) and Brennan was riding in a little car with a push handle. We started out with Conner being upset that we couldn't locate his knee pads (it's actually been so long since he's warn the skates, we can't even remember if we ever bought any). We FINALLY got the whole family out the door and Conner wanted one of us on each side of him. He kept saying "this is trickier than I thought it would be". So we made it to the neighbors' house (by this time Conner was already on the grass) when we decided to get his bike instead.

So David ran back to the house with the skates and got his bike. He knows how to ride his bike with training wheels. He rode it great last summer. He has ridden it great this year. But he has these special pedals attached to the pedals of bike that we use to secure his feet so he doesn't have to worry about his feet, he just worries about pushing with his legs. And the pedals have come off the bike. They've been off for a while, but every time he gets back on the bike, he melts down over the pedals. As he struggled to ride his bike and was getting so upset, my eyes were welling up with tears. We try to stay strong, to not show emotions, to just keep encouraging him, but sometimes it's so hard. It's hard to watch him try so hard to do something that is so easy for other kids, something that even last week he seemed to know how to do. It's like every time he gets on the bike, holds a pencil/crayon, eats with a fork, etc. etc. etc. he has to relearn the skill.

I mean, we are so lucky that we are working on riding a bike with Conner. He walks and talks and does so many things. But as a parent, you want your child to be just like everyone else. Today just happened to be a hard reminder.

I think I was super sensitive because I saw a mom of a kid that's in Conner's class. To be fair, I'm not 100% sure which of the girls in the class is her daughter, but I know she's in his class. Anyway, she was shopping for birthday party favors. And Conner wasn't invited to her birthday party. He hasn't been invited to a lot of the kids parties this year. I don't know why I care. It's saved us a ton of money this year. But I care and it makes me sad. I want Conner to have friends and for everyone to love him as much as we do. I guess I'm just feeling down today.