another classroom visit

Rachel's first craft - yes, she came home with paint on
her arms and on her shirt.

It’s the end of our first week of new routine. It has been a good week, one filled with new friends and new memories - and lots of Smiles cookies from the local Tim Hortons (each cookie is more $ for Niagara Peninsula Children’s Centre through September 24).

Dad got a chance to see Rachel's preschool program -

he is a part of her routine on Thursdays.

We both attended a fitting session for a

stander to be used while in the program.

This will help with Rachel's weight-bearing physio.

Today, Rachel did not have her preschool program, but she did go to school. She visited the JK classroom at Beacon for the first time. She is a “special friend” to the JK class this year. We hope to visit frequently for several reasons - to better acquaint Rachel with the kids in the class, to determine if a regular mainstream classroom is the place for Rachel, and to connect the kids in our school community with Rachel.

Emily was so proud to push Rachel to the same school this morning!

The class knew we were coming, but when we walked in this morning, everyone was shy and stared -expected and normal. Yet there were two little friends who recognized Rachel right away. A and Z were born the same week as Rachel - first Rachel, then A and then Z.

Z came over to Rachel, said hi and asked if Rachel could do a puzzle with her. Rachel was thrilled with a friend. I watched the two interact, and I was almost a bit teary when I caught Z nonchalantly wiping Rachel’s drool with her bib. “Oh Rachel, you keep drooling” was all she said.

It was good to be with the kids in the classroom since I am not a part of the preschool program at NPCC. As hard as it was to see all these able-bodied, talking little people the same age as Rachel, it also prompted some good reflections.

I think school for Rachel is a combination of imitation and invention. She can sit like the other kids for circle and calendar time, and she can listen to the songs and stories. That’s the imitating part. But that’s as far as it goes.

From there, we have to be creative -inventive- in how we nurture and work with Rachel. At the centre, Rachel spends time in the Snoezelen room, swings on a single-access point swing, stands in a stander, and practices balance on a modified seat. She also receives sterile water flushes through her g-tube and has her diaper changed when necessary. Not so ordinary.

Being creative includes finding or inventing the right kind of tools that Rachel’s hand will use -without having to grip since she doesn’t hold anything in her hands.

Our attempt at finding crayons and
chalk that make marks if you push them.
Not perfect designs yet; we are still looking for better ideas.

Being creative also includes finding different surfaces and objects that Rachel would be willing to touch without getting overstimulated.

We try not to think too far ahead with Rachel for school. We are enjoying the positive experience NPCC’s preschool program has been - that’s as much as we know now.

On a side note, each week, the parents of the kids in the preschool program meet while the kids are in session. We had a chance to share our stories this week, particularly about our special children. Without breaking confidence, I can safely say that I appreciated hearing the stories shared. It is good to be in the company of those who understand the unique journey of raising a child without a known diagnosis.

For now, we move into the weekend. I did another diaper run today. I have to smile at some of the looks I get when I load up one or two carts at Shoppers Drug Mart with the diapers and wipes. But, we go through a lot of diapers and wipes, and I take advantage of any sales or points system possible. We've tried a lot of different brands and different stores, but we keep coming back to the same kind. I still find it strange with disposables because I was such a cloth diaper fanatic with the older two! But, given our large circle of care and my limited time, disposables work.

Hope you all have a good weekend. A special hi to cousin Annette who is leaving to work as an RT for 6 months in a hospital in Kenya. We love RTs - respiratory therapists.