Friday, August 21, 2009

He's Going to School


I was beside myself with excitement yesterday as I opened up the mailbox and saw Aiden's class placement at THE RIVER SCHOOL! It feels like I just had my little monkey and now he's starting a two-day-a-week toddler program at one of the best language enriched schools around!?!? I'm truly in awe.

To make it even better, when I looked at Aiden's class list, I saw he's in class with Ben!!!! Ben's mom and I have never "officially" met, but we stay in touch through emails, discussing our boys successes and supporting each other each step of the way. We have followed each others journeys from the beginning. Ben was our hero as he was Dr. Niparko's first simultaneous bilateral cochlear implant kiddo, which helped us with our wish to do the same (Aiden was his third). When I first "met" Ben's mom over a year ago, I had no clue I'd be living so close, and better yet, that Ben and Aiden would be attending such an incredible school ... together ... in the same class! We can't wait to meet them!

The River School was founded in 1999 by a mother who wanted her deaf son to be part of a developmentally appropriate program with hearing peers. Approximately 15% of the students are deaf or hard of hearing while the remainder of the students are hearing. So Aiden will be in a classroom with hearing peers a.k.a. STRONG LANGUAGE MODELS! He will go to school two mornings a week in a theme-based environment where the children develop skills in play, socialization, and communication. This is such a fantastic opportunity to build a solid foundation for Aiden's learning to hear and speak. To top it all off, The Listening Center at Johns Hopkins has a unique relationship with the school and Aiden's surgeon sits on the school's Board of Directors! Still total awe.

There is one educator per classroom AND one speech language pathologist who works one on one with the deaf/hoh kids in the class! Aiden's class only has 8 kids, and I believe him and Ben are the only deaf kids in the class. So this is four straight hours in an oral language environment with pretty much their own private speech language therapist! On top of all this, the school also has an onsite Occupational Therapist (who could possibly help with the fact he is STILL NOT WALKING), and a full time audiologist who will work with our audiologist at Hopkins should any issues arise. The audi will have access to all of Aiden's maps (CI programs), supplies, a soundbooth, etc. so troubleshooting/mappings can happen right at the school! Aiden will also receive one additional hour of private therapy once a week after school. Pure Heaven.

I first heard of this amazing school as I followed Christian's hearing journey. At the time, we were still in Texas with no plans to even move to Maryland. Before we knew it, Aiden's daddy got a different job which relocated us to Maryland. We couldn't believe that Aiden was going to be implanted at Johns Hopkins, by Dr. Niparko, whom we wanted to do Aiden's surgery from the get go. Our thoughts when we first found JH and Dr. Niparko were, "Oh wouldn't it be nice." Well it happened. Then shortly into our journey I read about The River School from Christian's mommy, shared it with my husband, and again we imagined the possibilities, "Oh wouldn't it be nice." Well it happened again. Truly Blessed.

When we first moved up here I started attending the parent-infant class at the school and was taken aback by their whole approach in teaching deaf/hoh kids - the atmosphere throughout was thick with language development. I wanted more. The drive isn't easy (45 to 90 minutes depending on traffic). The tuition IS NOT in any way cheap (WOW!). With me not working we figured it just wasn't possible and decided to avoid any disappointments. Well, as time went on, I could not not try. I couldn't live with the "what if's" so I pushed forward. Sure enough, even though we were late to apply, they entertained the idea of Aiden attending, we went for a tour, they did a play "interview" with Aiden, and within a couple weeks we found out Aiden was accepted and that we received some financial aid!! So with the aid, some MAJOR sacrifices, and Aiden's daddy's recent promotion, we decided we had to make this SIMPLY AMAZING opportunity work for our son. Since we were late to the game though, I didn't want to jinx anything until his actual placement was in my hands. It's here. Can you tell I'm excited?

I am a very nervous momma leaving my little man, as he will turn 18 months just days after he starts school. Plus, he's not used to being away from mom; he freaks if I leave him for 5 minutes with a neighbor. Oh ya, did I mention he's STILL NOT WALKING! In the same sense, he loves being around other kids and is such a social butterfly. He's going to do great. He's going to be okay. (repeat to self 1000 times a day!)

We will continue our weekly Auditory Verbal Therapy (AVT) as we have really made some good strides this past few weeks. I am cutting back to every other week with his TOD (Teacher of the Deaf) and PT. So every other week, he will be getting four days straight of some sort of therapy. Ya, I think we'll take Friday off and make them Friday Fun Days!

Words can't describe my excitement. We have been so blessed throughout Aiden's journey! We are so thankful for all the wonderful opportunities that have been presented to us, and now this. The Lord works in mysterious ways and although we were never too excited to move to this area, He brought us here for many, many wonderful reasons. We truly are blessed ... and VERY thankful.

Now if I could just get the boy to walk before school starts!

10 comments:

Lucas'Mommy said...

WOW! So excited for you! What a great opportunity for Aiden. And you know I feel your walking pain. Lucas is finally almost functionally walking at 20 months. I can't wait to hear how it goes at River!

PinkLAM said...

That is very exciting! It sounds great! (and that picture of Aiden is absolutely precious! You've got one handsome little boy!)

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Wow! Exciting!

Julie

Landry said...

That is OUTSTANDING!!! Isn't it amazing how life works itself out just as it should sometimes...

Keep us posted!

Vivie said...

Outstanding!! Aiden is SO lucky.Maybe it is his charm , because every time I see his little face he makes me smile!!

Aiden , have a nice school year and be good!!

leah said...

What a great opportunity! The fact that they have OT and speech therapy on site is wonderful. Here's to a very productive year for Aiden!

misskri said...

Oh My ~ I am SOOO happy for you guys. I also have been reading Tina's blog and The River School sounded simply amazing ~ I could only wish there was something even close to River here.
I have family that live about an hour from River...I have honestly thought about moving there.
Congratulations ~ I can't wait to hear how great Aiden does there!

Ben's Mom said...

Tammy - I am as excited as you are! To think that when we "met" you lived in Texas and now the CI surgeries are behind us and our boys will be in school together! I am so glad to have you with me as we enter this next phase of our journey.

deaf school said...

wow... find it interesting... hope it'll be beneficial for me and my friends...

mbishopp said...

i had no idea our stories of how we got to this point we so similiar. we too were in another state, WA, when my baby was diagnosed with hearing loss. it was only through research that i knew i would always like dr. niparko to do alexander's surgery, but living on the west coast, it was not possible. until my husband was offered a job outside of d.c. we knew we couldn't refuse the chance to have alexander recieve surgery from him and learn to listen and talk by some of the best therapists!
what a journey. a third baby, a hearing loss diagnosis, a move,a surgery. it is all good now isn't it. :)