School – Not Just For Him

I’m a little shocked, but I think it’s actually going to happen.  Owen is going to start school two mornings a week starting the week of June 10.  He will be placed in a typical needs classroom (at the same school that Kellen attends) and have a respite (sometimes called para) teacher specifically dedicated to his needs.

This is a trial.  Owen has to prove that he can be part of the germ factory without needing prednisone or hospitalization.  I’m really anxious.  But I also can’t wait.  He loves going to the school and playing on the playground.  Yesterday he visited Kellen for Kellen’s year-end program in the classroom and checked out the big playground.  Owen will spend his time on the “Little playground” where the equipment is geared towards toddlers, but that didn’t stop him from exploring.

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I’ve been really excited about Owen going to school since applying in January.  I think it’ll be great for him to interact with his peers and to be part of group activities.  I expect it’ll help his development all around.

I knew the program was called Respite.  But, do you know what I never considered?  This program is great for Owen…but really it’s for me.  The county has reviewed our case and deemed that I deserve a break on occasion.  After two years of mostly me being Owen’s care taker, the county is going to help pay for most of the costs for Owen to go to school because they think mom needs it…that’s what respite means.

I do know what the word means, and don’t mean to suggest you don’t either.  It’s just that it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I’m going to have 6 hours a week to take care of me.  I can shower and shave my legs without worrying about Owen have a panic attack (he has a sensory issue with the shower).  Workout.  Run the errands without towing a kid or two along.  OMG!  I can clean the way I like to clean where I make a huge mess and then put it all back together again and I don’t have to worry about stopping for a feeding or accident protection.  For 3 hours twice a week, I won’t have to be feeling guilty about what therapy I should be working on with Owen.  I might even be able to reply to emails and voice mails (no guarantees, it’s only six hours a week:-)).

To be honest, these last two years, I’ve just been going through the motions without thinking much about what I need.  The blog was my main outlet.  There was nothing altruistic about me not thinking about me.  That’s just what happens in life sometimes, you get so focused on what has to be done that you miss that there might be help if you just stop for a minute to find out.

Are you wondering about programs in your area?  Every state is different on what/if is offered for respite care.  Pediatricians, Social Workers, Early Intervention and Schools that offer care for special needs children are all good places to start.  If I learned anything it’s to not assume you won’t qualify.  It’s worth asking.  For us, it was Owen’s level of need and our lack of family in our surrounding area that was most considered.  Also, the fact that we still pay for Kellen to go to school and that I’ve been unexpectedly out of work for two years contributed for the decision to give us a sliding fee rate.

Speaking of respite…Kyle is off work this week, so I’m heading to the coffee shop to visit a friend.  Happy Friday, everyone!