We have once again started looking at some support service providers for That Girl.
While she was in preschool, here in Ontario there was (and is) a support system in place for kids who need developmental support to have access to it, supplied by various and sundry government-funded organizations. It was nice in that we didn’t have to do the leg work — it came to us if we wanted it. It was coordinated by others, which was nice while trying as a new parent to navigate the jigsaw puzzle of developmental support needs for your child.
It was nice, being led by the hand, by experienced developmental professionals who could tell us what we needed and where to find it. It was less overwhelming that way, and it was less challenging to try to keep all the balls in the air.
But, once a child starts school in a school board (or turns age 6 if not in a school-board school), that support stops. You are handed over to the school board’s team of service providers, and things start over again.
Or, as it happens, they don’t really.
I don’t blame the school board. It’s a ridiculous task for a small team of people to try to keep track of the needs of so many children and make sure they all are getting what they need, plus keep the parents and teachers in the loop. It’s impossible.
We went into the school year having had a big transition-to-school meeting which went mostly nowhere, and we’ve been kind of picking up the pieces here and there since then.
We went from OHAI MEETING MEETING MEETING HERE IS ALL THE SUPPORT YOU NEED to suddenly having none. It was a little frustrating and scary, to be honest, knowing your kid is struggling but not bring sure exactly what to do to go about helping her.
We are lucky to have a couple of very good teachers and a good vice-principal who have been pushing for That Girl to get support, now that we have all gotten on the same page and understand that she DOES need support (we took for granted after the transition meeting that they would know that; we have learned since then they in fact did not. Whoops. Balls, they dropped.)
Anyway, they do now, and they are all about getting Stinkerbelle to some support services.
They can only do so much, however. They can direct us to the school board support system which, in our case, means that Stinkerbelle with get a little bit of speech therapy, and will have to wait two years to be given occupational therapy. There is no such thing as social development support. The teachers have picked up some slack, with regular testing and exercises, and the VP takes That Girl out of class for some individual work as well.
But like I said, they can only do so much. Nor should it be their job to do so much. And so they have been pushing us towards various provider organizations throughout the city, as well as seeking out private support services.
So this month, I’ve been calling the various organizations, talking to former providers, reviewing past reports, combing my blog for developmental details (see? it IS good for SOMETHING), and filling in intake forms. And we are going to get some private providers for speech therapy and occupational therapy, and are on the waiting list with another organization which will come into play (or not) based on testing in the next year and a half.
We are excited about the speech and OT people we have decided to go with. This morning, we spent an hour doing an OT assessment with That Girl and her new OT, Carol. And I have to tell you, it was very enlightening.
The thing with our service providers thus far is that, while they were government funded and readily available, they were also overtaxed. And so while we got lots of diagnostic information, as BDH told Carol this morning, we saw little in the way of actual therapy. Lots of running around, many wonderful people, but very little progress was made in the past 4 years.
With Carol, however? There will be therapy. Actual work to help That Girl will be done. Homework will be given to us as parents to work on at home.
We are excited to make progress for Stinkerbelle. We are excited for HER to make some progress.
BUT — and this but is a big one — progress, and by that I mean private support services, cost a fair bit of money. It’s a bit daunting to spent that much money, potentially — we have no way of knowing HOW much, because it’s not like they can say OH HEY THIS WILL TAKE 3 WEEKS, AN HOUR A WEEK, AT $140 AN HOUR. They can’t possibly know until they start working with Stinkerbelle, and so the open-endedness of it all is a little scary to consider.
Because you can’t say no, really. This is your child’s life and well-being that you are trying to improve. If you have the good fortune to be in a position to access private developmental service providers, well… Skimping and being cheap is not an option.
So, we have said SCREW IT THAT’S WHAT CREDIT/A LINE OF CREDIT/INVESTMENTS/A NEW CAREER IN ORGANIZED CRIME AND PROSTITUTION IS FOR. Okay, maybe that last bit is a LEEEEETLE BIT of an exaggeration. But we certainly will have to look at our finances, should this become a more long-term assist to help Stinkerbelle on her way.
And walking out of our OT appointment today, into the bitter Arctic cold, we were actually feeling a little bit excited. It felt like we might be making some headway. It felt like we were doing good things for That Girl. It felt like we were getting her where she needed to go.
It was a good, but a little bit scary. Like Santa!
So we will see how things go on Thursday, when we go in for the speech therapy assessment. I am hopeful that the glow of progress will continue and Thursday will leave us feeling equally optimistic.
It feels good, having support. It feels good not feeling like you have to do it alone. It feels good once again being part of a team.