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.