1st days of the rest of our lives

2011-09-06 12:12:48 by Sarah Sanford, Patient Family, as posted on the inside.akronchildrens.org blog.

The first day of school is never easy on anyone.†But, itís a necessary evil.†Kids have to go to school at some point, whether private, Catholic, public, home school or an early intervention program like Calico at the Summit DD.

Any which way you cut it, your kid has to go somewhere, eventually. I have had the benefit of seeing both sides of the coin.†My Jane attends a private Catholic Pre-K.†My Baby Jude attends the EI (Early Intervention) program at Calico. They both have hit the ďschool lottery.Ē†But 1st days are still tough.

And, dare I say it, itís a little tougher to bring your child to a program than it is to a private Catholic school, even though you know to the core of your being that the program is the perfect place for him, to provide services along with childcare. But itís also a tough pill to swallow.†No matter how perfect a fit his 1st day is at a place like Calico.

Itís not just hand print paintings, cheerio art and singing songs.†There are IFSPs (Individualized Family Service Plans), measurable goals to be written, and nurses, therapists and service coordinators to run everything by. You donít just send a note in to the teacher if something comes up. There is a food chain of responsibility on your kidís team.

The folks at the DD, specifically those on Baby Judeís team, make it a seamless, easy process - 1st day or 100th day.†They know the food chain, follow it and we have never had so much as a blip in communication.†It's perfect.

The 1st time I walked out the doors of his special needs program was not the easiest of 1st days.†By signing all of the plans, paperwork and the like, I was finally admitting that I cannot go it alone.†Baby Jude will, and does, benefit from a large team of talented, smart people in his life.†Not just his Mama.†He needs more.†And he is lucky enough to have access to that team from the DD and Akron Childrenís Hospital.

But for many parents (including me), it can be difficult to admit that your child lives with significant enough disabilities to qualify for EI services. Itís humbling, scary, and a little sad.†With the help of the DD and Akron Childrenís, it almost instantly†became hopeful.

Iíve come to learn that itís ok to be scared, humbled, and even a little sad from time to time. Iíve come to learn that Baby Judeís large team of pros love him, they respect me, they will advocate, pursue, nudge, prod and help me make all of the best decisions for Baby Jude that can possibly be made. I have come to learn a lot.†Perhaps the best thing that day 1 or 100+ at Calico has helped me come to learn is that a program like Calico is not a necessary evil, itís a necessary blessing.

Calico was heaven sent and made just for Baby Jude, it seems. Thank you to Help Me Grow Tim for making the referral.†Teacher Lucy is an angel, a smart angel. Grandpa (the volunteer in the room) is amazing. The therapists are unreal. The nursing staff who weigh him every other week is incredible.†Calico is perfect.

We are blessed that the Summit DD is accessible in our community. We are blessed that the ease of use is unparalleled.†We are blessed that the professionals who work there are highly skilled, compassionate, approachable, funny and dedicated to our children and the adults they serve.†We, as a community, are blessed because the professionals at the DD truly serve our family members.†It is not just a job to them. They know they are serving a population who cannot serve themselves and they do so with dignity, respect and pride.

Itís also why I have a new 1st day.†This is the 1st day of my personal mission to support the Summit DD with the campaign for a renewal levy that is on the ballot in November.†I have a sign in my yard and so do my aunts and a best pal or 2.†I have done some media stuff for TV, print and radio.†I will do anything and everything that they ask to help pass this levy.† This 4.5 mil renewal levy is critical to the community. Itís critical to the 4,000 or so people who are served. Itís critical to families who will never dream of a private school 1st day for their child.

This levy is critical to Baby Jude, which makes it critical to me.†If there is always an incredible place like the DD for families to find help beyond what can be done at home, then not only is it critical, but it can be a blessing to all of those 1st day parents.† Especially when the Mamas realize it's ok to not go it alone.†It's critical to look for the help, ask for it and work together as a team.

After all, that is what Early Intervention with the DD is there for, a blessing.

PS - If youíd like a yard sign to show your support of The Summit DD levy, let me know. I deliver.

Grateful, Prayerful & Hopeful.


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