The Purpose of this Blog

The goal of this blog is to provide education and bring about higher awareness about Down syndrome. It is to share that life with Down syndrome (DS) is not scary, horrible, or to be feared.

My experience comes from raising my daughter, Nebraska Larae (Braska), born November 2006 with Down syndrome.
The posts on this blog are related in some way to life with DS or disability, and they are reposted here from my other family blogs. There are links to those blogs in the margin on the right side of this blog if you would like to visit them directly.

Thank you for coming by.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Different States Early Intervention

Attention all parents involved in Early Intervention(EI): Help me out a minute, pretty please?

I've talked to a few of you lately about a variety of issues related to EI (AKA, Birth to 3, Babies Can't Wait, First Steps, etc.) and I'm finding that alot of the states are really different in how they handle things. I had no idea that there was such variety in the services and the processes.

So as a point of awareness for those who surf the web for this stuff, and just as a way to share with our fellow parents how things are where we respectively live (Maybe there will be something you didn't know about your own state!), can you take a minute a summarize a few points in a comment here? For the friends out there who have discussed this with me recently, can you still comment here so that we have the best grouping of info? Thanks!!!! If you've done a post on your blog on this, feel free to put the link in a comment too!

1. Some of you have mentioned looking for a preschool for your child who is about to turn 3. How does your city or district or region handle this? Do they assign a school based on your home location or do you have choices? For you that have kids in the 3-6 range, how often do they attend school and how have you felt about it?

We chose to live in the area of our city that we do in order to take part in our current situation. Some districts in our county have their own Early Childhood building that includes the preschoolers transitioning from First Steps. But we chose to be in the district that utilizes a special organization/facility that has 60/40 classes and in-house therapists. The whole place is designed for those with special needs but there are peer models there as well. (That's not the official description, but that's my simple summary.)This is where Braska goes to her pre-preschool currently, and she'll continue at that location, just going more often after she turns 3. We've been very pleased with our therapists from that organization that we've had already through First Steps and Braska really loves going to "school" on Monday mornings. So there's no "choice" for us to make, and I'm curious how that works elsewhere. It seems like several of you bloggers with kiddos this age are looking at preschools, and that's not part of our process, I'd like to know how it works.

2. Does your EI service provide equipment for you? Like walkers, specialized feeding things (Z-vibe, jigglers), or Sure Steps or orthotics? I've heard some even do things like swingsets!

Ours has a system (IL did too) that basically provides what is reasonable and needed when it is written up by the therapist and/or the service coordinator. I don't know the details, but I know it works. We got Braska's Sure Steps through this, and it covered it all. When we were in IL, they offered some of the feeding things, but I was too impatient for the paperwork and waiting for approval, so I just bought what we needed.

3. How does your EI work as far as payment from parents? Is it on a sliding scale based on income? Or is it a free service to everyone regardless of income?

In both MO and IL, it is a sliding scale. In MO, the fees are lower than in IL. I think the highest amount is $100/mo.

4. For those of you with 2-year-olds, have you had opportunities to attend training or information sessions about how to prepare for the transition to an IEP? What are you doing to get ready for this transition?

I've been blessed to know Adrienne, the leader of our local DS group and a friend I knew online before I moved here. I call her the IEP Queen. She is a wealth of information. She's involved with MPACT which gives training sessions for in-depth info on what to expect and how to be the best team member you can be for your child's IEP team. Here's a link to some great resources if you're interested. I'm trying to learn all I can so that I don't just plain accept what's told as fact but can make sure we get what we need and what's best for Braska.

5. And finally, how often do you have therapy and what services does your child get currently?

Braska gets weekly PT, speech is every other week, and OT is every other week and happens while she is at school on Mondays. She also has a nutritionist who visits twice a month and works on feeding and makes sure we're getting her enough food/fluids by mouth or via the G-tube.

Thanks, friends!! I really appreciate your time, and I think it will be very helpful. I am contacted often with some of these questions, so this will be a great resource!

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