Eliza Grace was born on March 15, 2006, at 26 weeks, 4 days, weighing 1 pound 4 ounces and measuring just 11.5 inches long. She is the light of my soul and this is the story of our life in the big city.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


It's that time of year in New York City when parents of two year olds embark on the pre school application and interview process. Yup, your two year has to be interviewed before being accepted to one of these schools. For around $20,000 a year your toddler will spend 3 one-half days (that's about 9 hours a week) hopefully learning to color in the lines (unless it is a more progressive school that encourages individuality and prefers that your child colors outside of the lines). You can learn about their different separation policies which range from the somewhat barbaric drop the toddler off at the very swanky rococo gate (think Rodin's gates) to the more touchy-feely method where you bascially get to stay and attend pre school yourself for the first 6 weeks. This latter drop off method works well for parents who themselves were denied the thrill of attending pre school.

After attending three open houses, I have decided this is not going to be in Eliza's future. (As an aside, attending only three open houses makes me a complete slacker since most of these parents are applying to anywhere from 7 to 14 preschools.) At the schools for "typically developing" children (this is new euphemism we use to differentiate "regular" kids from kids like Eliza who are delayed) people looked at me like I had ten heads when I dared to inquire if they had any children with special needs. One parent asked me "what languages Eliza was working on." I had no earthly idea what she meant and she informed me that her son had a Spanish and French tutor ... at 2.5 years old. Huh. Who knew. I advised I was focusing on English with the hope that Eliza would consistently say her name by the age of three. I also let her know she could get free Spanish tutoring from Dora and Diego. She was not amused.

Then, like Goldilocks, I ventured to the schools with "inclusion" programs. These have a ratio of about 70% "typical" kids and 30% "Eliza-kids." After seeing a coupled of those, it was pretty apparent that they cannot offer the level of services that Eliza needs, particularly in her speech and communication and occupational therapy.

I finally decided to look at a school that services 85% "Eliza-kids" and 15% "typical" kids. It was a beautiful school with wonderful sensory gymnasiums, great community activities for the children, classroom ratios as low as 8 students to 1 special education teacher with 2 teaching assistants. There is a full time registered nurse, and the staff actually knew what a feeding disorder was! The school program is a full day (9 to 2) 12 month program, with various 2 week vacations. Eliza will be eligible for bus service so that will eliminate the concern about getting her to and from school in the bad weather.

So, like Goldilocks, I think I have found a school that is just right. I am a little sad that Eliza will not be in a "typical" school, with a "typical" day. But I am happy that I think I have found a place that is just right for Eliza ... where she can be "typical" in her own special way and where she will be given the opportunity to flourish instead of getting lost in the shuffle of this pre school madness.


abby said...

We had a meeting with the transition woman from the 3-5 EI services group yesterday and have thinking a lot about this, too. From what I could glean (the whole thing being a mystery to me still), there is no way in hell we even need to bother visiting a 'typical' let's take your 10,000 dollars (what it costs, on average in Philly) preschool. They do not need to, they do not want to, and they are not going to accept kids like Hallie or Eliza, so fuhgeddabowdit. The kids there probably just end being bullies anyway (this is perhaps mean of me, but the one kid I know who goes to a swanky school is certainly not having this taught out of her), so who cares!

The one truly special needs preschool around here (that is a full day program) is probably one that Hallie won't qualify for since her needs from what the social worker suggested are not acute enough (she made it sound like the school was essentially geared towards the autistic).

So that leaves us with a Head Start option. But wait. There's no nurse, and no one-on-one aide and they can't administer meds. So that may leave us with, yes, no option. We might qualify for some nursing assistance for the school through medical assistance or something, but otherwise, they can't really ensure that she gets her meds. And I wonder if they can ensure that she stays safe in terms of her food issues (which I am beginning to feel are even more serious than they already seemed, given her beef failure and how violent that's been).

So what do we do? Beats the heck out of me. The kid requires socialization---that's clear. She has no real speech-as-communication other than one phrase with us ("I want..." which is helpful...but I want her to talk like a regular kid and eat like a regular kid and a bunch of other things while I'm at it...can I have those? Pretty please?)

liz.mccarthy said...

I promise to do a preschool post soon too (we are having our own preschool issues), but in the meantime I'm so happy that you found the right place....

Anne, Eliza Grace's mom said...


The pre school I want Eliza to go to is run by YAI. Have you heard of them? They have also been providing Eliza's Early Intervention services through their Lifestart program and they have been a godsend. I could never thank Ellen, our service coordinator, enough for how she looks after both of us (yes sometimes she calls just to see how I am!) Frankly if it wasn't for the great services Eliza receives through YAI I would have moved out of our tiny apartment in the city two years ago. Every city needs a YAI and every kid like ours deserves a service coordinator like Ellen. I am astonished and angry at our system when I hear stories about other people's EI experiences.

It does sadden me very much that Eliza,like Hallie, will not have a "typical" pre school experience and toddler-hood. I was speaking with a woman last week who was mercilessly bitching about having delivered at 35 weeks and who lost the chance at the "perfect" pregnancy and was asking me how I dealt with not having a "regular" pregnancy. I usually try to just smile and nod my head at people like this but I just could not take it anymore. I finally told her I could give a rat's ass about not getting to be the nice fat pregnant woman because what really mattered here was that my child had lost her chance at "regular" childhood and that was far more important than me having a dandy 40week pregnancy.


So my suggestion Abby is that you, Sharon, Hallie and the mango move back to the city into a cramped apartment and Eliza and Hallie can take the little yellow bus together!

.Stacey. said...

I just came around your blog and it's cute.

It's rather crazy that someone would spend $20 000 on their childrens pre-school. I know it goes to your child learning new things, but what ever happened to the learning colors at home with mom and dads.

I guess the school and learning system is different in the US then in Canada.

MamáChanga said...


I'm so glad you found a pre-school! I pray that you and Eliza have a wonderful experience there.

Hugs & Blessings!

nanamarine said...

Miss Eliza Grace seems to be doing so well now that she has her new caregiver in her corner. Joyce seems to have the special touch !! Things are going to be a little sad right now for her Mom but she won't skip a beat.
You both have the love and prayers of so many people who love you....let them.
I love you both. Hugs for Miss Eliza Grace