Matan goes mainstream
I’ve written already about how great Matan’s special education preschool has been for him these past few months. He now speaks in full sentences, and can explain himself when he is so inclined. He still does babytalk/whining when he’s tired, or just want’s to be babied by me, but he’s now capable of speaking clearly.
I give much of the credit to the fabulous staff at his preschool, but it’s not all roses. He feels an acute sense of loss that there are mostly boys in his class. There is one girl, but she is only there part of the week, and is mainstreamed in a regular preschool 2 days a week. While I want Matan to remain in the special education preschool, he has shown that he wants a larger group of children, and that he especially misses playing with girls too.
This weekend at the playground, he befriended two new girls, and one boy. When he sees a child he wants to play with, he’ll go right up to them and say, “boy/girl, do you want to play with me?”. I guide him to ask the child’s name, and they’re off! In a way, the lack of children has caused him to make huge efforts at being social, something that comes fairly naturally to him anyway.
To meet his needs, we’ve decided to send him to an afterschool program in a regular preschool, such that he’s in special ed 6 days a week, but on two of them, instead of coming home at 2 pm, he goes over to a regular kindergarten class and spends a few hours there before coming home. They feed him lunch, and then he has free playtime with the older, mainstream children. He’s only supposed to start kindergarten next year, so most of these children are up to a year older than him.
I took him to visit and play there twice last week and he reacted favorably, so yesterday we allowed him to go directly from his preschool to the aftercare program, and I then picked him up early so that he didn’t end up spending more than an hour playing there after finishing lunch. He likes the toys there, and when we were leaving an older boy came up to him and said, “Bye, Matan”, while flashing a big welcoming smile. I’m really excited for Matan to have this opportunity to remain in special ed, and to benefit from the intimate environment and one on one care, while also mixing with regular kids who speak clearly and play at a higher level than he has in his class. So far, he’s ambivalent. He clearly enjoys himself while he’s there, but tells me he doesn’t want to go, he wants his special ed teacher’s class. I think he’s afraid we are transitioning him to a new class, so I just keep telling him he’s staying with his special ed class, but that instead of a babysitter, he can stay and play with the big kids. Yesterday was his first day, I’ll post updates on how he’s doing there.