Ryan is easy. Get him signed up for school, talk with the counselor on how he needs to be placed in advanced classes, but watched closely because he has "bright but lazy" syndrome, get him signed up for spring baseball, take him out to explore the woods, set up his XBox 360 and stereo and he's ready to go.
Kailyn too, lead her to friends to play with and she's happy as can be. Her school called me immediately to set up a meeting to discuss her 504 plan. They had the school psychologist there along with everyone else and we discussed my concerns about her having a possible auditory processing disorder (which, like hearing loss, can mimic ADD/ADHD). They tested her that next week and we're just waiting on results. I also told them about Aiden having LVAS and how Kailyn tested at 40db at one point (which ended up being due to fluid) so the speech pathologist set up for her hearing to be tested every couple of months. They devised their own success plan for her, on top of the IEP, and she's been doing wonderfully! I'm in the process now of finding her a good gymnastics class and Girl Scouts troop.
Then there's Aiden. I'm shouting out a HUGE THANK YOU to Drew's mom and Allison's mom for leading me in the right direction way before we even moved here. They led me to the "good" counties and steered me clear of the ones we wouldn't want to be in. They sent me audiologist names, preschools to check out, the low down on therapists etc. I couldn't have asked for any better "relocation specialists"! And boy were they right. This county provides an Early Intervention (EI) program like I've never seen before. Until Aiden reaches the age of three, he will be provided services through Ohio's Help Me Grow program, our county's EI program, and the Columbus Hearing Impaired Program (C.H.I.P.). There's so much to get a hold of, and I don't completely understand it all yet, but here's the low down of what I get so far.
The EI program through the county has MANY opportunities for us to make good use of our tax dollars. Aiden has been qualified to receive Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and of course, speech therapy. The wonderful thing about this program is they contract out with companies or individuals who provide these therapies within the communities. This means I get to choose who Aiden sees and if for some reason I don't have warm and fuzzies about it, I can choose someplace else. There's also the option of having someone come into my home OR going to an actual location. I love this because I'd rather bring Aiden to sessions where he can "play" on all the fun equipment, which gets him engaged at such a higher level. This is outside of any private services I choose to pay for through our insurance.
In addition to our therapies, the program also provides us with an additional budget dollars to use towards "other" activities that would benefit Aiden. For example, I could use these funds for a swimming or gymnastics class, music therapy, additional therapy sessions, playgroups, etc. I believe I also get funding to help pay for CI equipment, hearing loss conferences etc. I'm in awe. Every county should have this. We are checking out a music therapy class next week with We Joy Sing.
The CHIP program is a part of the Columbus Public School District, but provides services for over 35 districts, servicing over 200 hard of hearing or deaf children ages 0 to 21. Through this program we are provided a teacher of the deaf (TOD). We met with our new TOD for the first time this week and I was just amazed. She had Aiden laughing and immersed in language within the first five minutes. We spent a whole two hours with her getting to know each other and learning each other's expectations. We only get to see her once a month, but she will always send home a couple pages of homework and activities to go along with it! You know I absolutely LOVE THIS! This program also hosts a toddler play group once a week where the parent(s) meet in one room and the toddlers play and do activities in another for a whole hour and a half.
Being an auditory verbal family, Aiden's daddy and I knew from the get go we wanted a strong auditory verbal therapist (AVT). I called our wonderful AVT from Texas, Miss Becky, to help us out with referrals. She got us in touch with a well respected AV therapist (and former audiologist) from the Cleveland Clinic whom we are VERY excited to see. He too had Aiden laughing within minutes of stepping foot in the door. Even though it's about a two hour drive, I know it will be well worth it and more than anything, get us back on track. We will see him two times a month.
After leaving The River School, my biggest worry has been Aiden not having the social interactions with hearing and deaf peers. His hearing peers at the school were huge language models and he was starting to thrive in a classroom environment - away from mom's side. He was over the whole separation anxiety and even started saying his CI buddy Ben's name. I believe kids learn best from their peers (oh, and the pretty much private SLP he had in the class was a huge bonus too) and leaving this school was the one thing I hated leaving behind. But I'm finding out with the resources here, we'll be able to fill this void without breaking our budget.
I have also scheduled our first audiology appointment AND our first appointment to meet the CI surgeon/ENT in this area. The audiologist we're going to see has come very highly recommended from Drew's mom, our audiologist at Hopkins, and my amazing SIL, who is a TOD here in Ohio.
So our schedule is filling up fast. He'll have OT or PT one time a week (rotating between the two), we'll have a toddler play group once a week, music therapy once a week, and the funny thing is, we'll only have outside auditory therapy three times a month ... well, that doesn't include all the "play" time with mom at home everyday!