A phrase I got used to hearing alot over the years was "let's just wait and see". Telling that to a mother who wanted nothing more than to give her children everything and anything they needed to achieve their fullest potential was one of the most frustrating things I had ever been through. I hated hearing that with a passion. I'm not a wait and see mother. Did I understand that some "diagnosis" couldn't be made until the girls were older - absolutely! I understood that because I heard it often enough. But it didn't make it any easier to wait.
For weeks upon weeks and months upon months, I would load the girls up in the van and drive almost 45minutes away to therapy in Puyallup Washington. It could have been 3 hours away and I still would have made that drive on a daily basis. The therapists the girls had at Children's Therapy Unit made it worth it time and time again. Over the 4 years that the girls were seen there - we met truly amazing individuals who loved my daughters as though they were their own. For roughly 8 hours a week, the girls were treated there and given undivided attention to help them achieve their goals. If the girls were sick, they called to see how they were. If the girls had a bad day, they were there helping them and loving them. When the girls met a goal or had a wonderful session - they celebrated right along with us.
The people at Children's Therapy Unit truly were the best of the best (in my opinion). Not only did CTU offer OT, PT, Speech and Psychiatry in one building - they also had social skills groups, family support, orthotics - truly EVERYTHING in one place. It was a gift to go there. When the girls would go off with their therapists, I had an opportunity to talk with other parents who were in similar situations. When we were there for hours at a time when one girl had therapy, and the others didn't start for an hour there were things for the kids to do. Books to read, games to play, other kids to play with - in a SAFE place where I didn't have to worry about the "weird looks" or ignorance of other parents. Any other parent that has gone through the "unknowns" knows how truly amazing it was to have a place like that.
Shortly after we started therapies at CTU - I was introduced to another form of hell on earth. IEP's. (Individualized Education Plans) Don't get me wrong - I appreciate the intent of what IEP's are supposed to do. But the meetings and evaluations and egos that get involved make the process exhausting. Throughout the time that we were in Washington, I had another wonderful person come into my life, and the lives of my daughters. She was the Speech and Language Pathologist that was in charge of my girls IEP's and also saw the girls for speech services. Angela was probably one of my closest friends in Washington. As the girls aged into the system of public education and EC Preschool, Angela opened her arms even more and took over their IEP's and therapies.
It started with Riley in preschool starting in December of 2005. She had just turned 3 and to say that I was scared would be putting it mildly. I don't remember alot of the first year of her in preschool - but I do remember being nervous and not wanting her to ride the bus. She wasn't going to the school on base because they didn't have the EC Preschool, so she would have been bused to the army base and go to school there. Yeah - that wasn't going to happen. So, eventually I pulled her from the army base school and sent her to a preschool off base and she was really happy there. When it was time for Maggie to start preschool, I sent her to that school as well.
When it was time for Riley to start kindergarten, things became harder. In Washington they didn't have "all day kindergarten". We started Riley at the school on the army base because we were told that that would be a better situation for her. We quickly discovered that we were very wrong. (Damn hindsight!) So, we transferred Riley to the elementary school on base where she quickly started to drown so we tried another class and eventually she settled in and finished out her Kindergarten year. Angela walked just about all of that with me and tried to help me figure out a good balance for Riley. In addition to attending school Riley also had her therapies at CTU every week. Which now, it doesn't seem like it was that much, but at the time, it was.
When Riley was starting 1st grade, it was time to start Maggie in her EC Preschool. Thankfully Angela was there with me through that as well. It started off pretty well, Maggie was going to be in the same class that Riley had been in. I was comfortable with the teacher and knew that Maggie would be happy there. Riley was excited about starting her 1st grade year and going to school all day like the "big kids". The first day of school was great for Riley. She was really excited and quickly made a few friends. Maggie started in her class and was happy too. I was really surprised to see how they transitioned and how comfortable they both seemed.
Part of me was waiting for the other shoe to drop. Things were going too well and I couldn't shake that feeling of "something bad is coming." I wish I hadn't been right. About half way through the first quarter of school - we got a phone call that the school district was going to start an EC Preschool on our base and they were going to transfer all the "off army base" kids to that school. Here we are so content and happy that Maggie is comfortable and happy to go to school and excited to see her friends everyday. And now - the school district wants to change all that? Insert mother rage right here!!!