Welcome back! I’ve been gone for a bit but Tom sure has been busy.
Tom has spent his school years at the Western PA School for Blind Children and he has also been a part of their daycare program, A Child’s View, which is a blended program for blind/visually impaired children and sighted children. It is a fabulous daycare and I can’t recommend it enough. Tom had a great time and I felt very safe leaving him there. They also did an excellent job of making learning accessible by reinforcing concepts in many fun and tactile ways.
But that daycare is located inside of his school, which is in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh. It’s a busy neighborhood and neither I nor his Father can drive him there and make it to work on time. So we decided to see what is available in our new neighborhood and we found a daycare very close to Tom’s Dad’s work that was also recommended by a coworker.
When I called to ask about a visit and information I dropped the bomb immediately, “I’m looking for a daycare for my son for the summer. He is five years old and completely blind. He is mostly potty trained and walks with a cane.” A bit of silence followed by an admission that they’d never had a blind child in their daycare and weren’t sure if they could accommodate him. I said as long as you can keep him safe then he’s no different from other kids. They invited us for a visit so that our family could see if it would work for Tom. Now I know that legally they can’t discriminate against Tommy because of his disability, but I also don’t want him to be somewhere that doesn’t want him.
I think meeting Tommy allayed many of their fears because they saw that Tommy is much more like other young children than he is different. He does some repetitive words, and sometimes plays in ways that are different from other children, but mostly he can hang with kids his age when given the chance. We all decided to go for it. Tommy would stay home with his grandparents on Monday and Tuesday, and go to daycare the rest of the week.
At the end of Tommy’s first day some of the kids stopped Tom’s Dad and confessed that they were afraid of Tom’s cane, but they said now they weren’t afraid anymore. (If only adults adjusted so easily!) And I also hear that all the kids say good bye without prompting as Tommy leaves for the day.
Another difference is that my husband is the main daycare parent now. So he’s taking the lead on communication with staff and making lunches. What a guy!
I hear that Tommy has met a little girl Gia that he hangs out with all day. That made me so happy. His Dad says he plays with Gia when he drops him off and when he comes back to get him in the afternoon he’s still playing with Gia. Sounds like he’s got a buddy!
Now it hasn’t all be smooth sailing; we have had some negative behaviors crop up in the past couple of weeks. There have been some backsliding in potty behaviors that has been tough to deal with. We have also had some episodes of laughing loudly for no reason that lasts a long time. I don’t know if he got attention for it or the kids thought it was funny, but it’s not a healthy way to act.
Tom started two weeks of Extended School Year (ESY) this week so he is back at the Western PA School for Blind Children. His potty has improved and so has his behavior. Maybe he just needed that familiar environment to get him back on track. We will see what happens when he starts daycare again. I know he said he misses his daycare friends already! I’m glad we gave a mainstream daycare a try.
Hope your summer is going great too!