Wednesday, September 10

First Day of School

Drew started preschool today! Drew's Dad and I decided to enroll Drew in a mainstream preschool program one day a week at a local church. It is the same program that Drew's Sister has been attending for the previous two years. Drew has two teachers and there are five other children in the classroom.

Our main reason for starting Drew in preschool this year, instead of waiting until next year when he will transition to an IEP and attend a preschool for children who are deaf or hard of hearing, is to socialize him with other children his own age and hopefully reduce his separation anxiety. Drew is very attached to his Mommy and Grandma, and we fear another year of no outside program could make for a difficult transition!

Drew's teachers reported a fun-filled first day, and they actually think that Drew is one of their more verbal students! Go figure!

This is the first time Drew's preschool has had a hearing impaired child in their classroom. They have been wonderful about learning about hearing loss, Drew's cochlear implants and setting up their classroom as a listening environment. Here are some things we have found helpful when working with a mainstream preschool:

  • In-service Day: Schedule a meeting with the Preschool Director and Teachers to review information on hearing loss and hearing aids/cochlear implants. We had our teacher through Early Intervention meet with Drew's teachers to discuss his hearing loss, how his cochlear implants work and things that can be done in the classroom to facilitate an excellent listening environment. We also discussed ways they can help with Drew's learning, like providing lesson plans for the month ahead and sending home all musical lessons so we can practice at home.
  • Classroom Setting: When looking at mainstream preschools, look for classrooms with carpeting and ceiling tiles (to reduce noise). Locate the heating/cooling systems and make sure they don't provide too much background noise.
  • The Other Students: Drew's teachers had all of the students sit in circle time this morning, and they talked about Drew's CI's and how they help him hear. They took one of them off and let the other children touch it, hoping to cut down on their curiosity. They also set the rule that no one is to touch Drew's ears.
  • Which Ear is Which?: In the picture above you may notice that Drew is wearing a red microphone cover on his processor. Because Drew has such a variance in map intensity, we wanted the teachers to be able to clearly tell the right ear versus his left. So, going with "red is right", we put a red mic cover on his right processor.

We're really excited to see what this year will bring for Drew. I certainly think it will help us understand exactly how well Drew can hear, primarily in a classroom environment. Drew's Early Intervention teacher is curious, as well, and we are planning on observing to see how Drew performs in this setting.

Knowing him, he'll do great!


auntangie said...

Wow! I'm so proud of him. He's come so far in such a short amount of time, it's actually amazing.

Laurie said...

What a great opportunity for Drew and you! Sounds like you have a good support system that is willing to let him be involved in the preschool class. Drew will thank you someday for mainstreaming him!

Looking forward to meeting your little guy and your family in a couple weeks!


Bill and Shelly said...

Sounds like Drew will have a great year!!
I am really hoping to make one of the support groups at AOCC this year. I want to be able to catch up with everyone in person.
Are you going to the AG Bell conference at Children's? I am hoping to be able to talk Bill into letting me go.

Kel said...

How exciting! I'm glad they were so receptive to his needs at the preschool, and can't wait to hear how it goes.

Laura's medical journey said...

aww he looks as hes coping well! Its slways hard the first day! good that he got through and looks as he loved it! :D

tammy said...

How exciting! Wh I love that the preschool was so open in learning all about hearing loss/CIs! I have a couple years before this time, but have already questioned myself if we'll send Aiden to mainstream preschool or deaf/hoh preschool. I like how you're tranisitioning him by just having him go once a week. What a great opportunity!

Anonymous said...

He's such a doll! They both are! This is some fantastic advice here, reminds me that I should definitely differentiate between his processors. I used to the red cover on the right side and then when it needed replaced we got a little lazy about it and just slapped a grey one on.