May 8, 2012

Visiting Baby TALK's STEPS Program

Ethan and I had the opportunity to visit Baby TALK's STEPS program today. The STEPS program is sort of a pre-preschool program for kids with special needs. It is our hope that Ethan will start the program in the fall. He would go for three hours a day, twice a week. He would get some of his therapy services "at school" - most likely OT and Speech as well as developmental therapy and would continue to get the rest of his services at home until he turned three years old and would start receiving services from the school district.

Here is the description of the program from the Baby TALK website:
STEPS (Success Together Experiencing Play and Stimulation) is a program with provides family-centered service designed to meet individual needs of the children enrolled in the early intervention and/or Macon County Family Literacy program. STEPS provides a blend of educational and therapy services withing the context of a developmentally appropriate curriculum as families are supported in building nurturing relationships with their young children. This program includes physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy (provided by a local hospital) as well as developmental therapy provided by Baby TALK.

We had a good visit. We stayed for over an hour. Ethan's OT and SLP both provide services to kids at STEPS and there were there working with kids. The DT that facilitates our Baby TALK Special Connections group also works in the STEPS program so she was there as well. Ethan played and then had snack at the same time as the other kids. We strapped him into a little rifton chair and scooted him up to the table with the rest of the kids. He looked like such a big boy and while the other kiddos ate their snack I fed Ethan his applesauce. 

There are typically 9 to 11 students in a class and each class has two DTs, and two assistants and then the PTs, OTs, and SLPs, push in and work with kids one on one as well, so there are lots of adults and hand for the little ones. We were offered a chance to have Ethan already begin the STEPS program but we have known since we learned about the program and put our name on the list that we wanted to wait until Ethan turned 2. So we are hoping that in the fall, either August or September, that Ethan will start "school." I think it will be great for Ethan and for me. I also think it is going to be very hard for me! Since I've been able to stay at home with him I have not had the experience of leaving Ethan with a babysitter or daycare on a regular basis. But I've talked with several parents whose kids have been part of the STEPS program and they have just raved about how much progress their kiddos made and that the kids seemed to really enjoy being at "school."

Even as I write this it is hard for me to think that I am feeling so sure that Ethan will be here in the fall to start the STEPS program -- while none of us are guaranteed tomorrow, as a mom of a child with a diagnosis like Ethan has, it is really hard to think of the future because there aren't many "happy endings" to PBD, but as of now, Ethan is doing pretty well. As I watched Ethan play on the floor with toys during our visit and then watching him sit at the table with all the other kids just made me realize how far he has come (and of course how much more I want for him) in the last 21 months. 

Even in these moments when things seem to be going so well, the reality of PBD isn't far from my mind but only the Lord knows the plans He has for Ethan and how long we will have Ethan here with us, but I am cautiously optimistic about the immediate future for Ethan (but I will admit that I can't/don't allow myself to think much past preschool years at this point in the game).


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