Friday, April 26, 2013

I've Seen the Village and I...

I am sure everyone has heard the saying I've seen the village and I don't want it raising my kids.  A lot of times it is said by homeschoolers.  We homeschool.  Always have.  No regrets.  When we began homeschooling we evaluated on a yearly basis if it was the best option for our family and each child.  We still do that yearly evaluation.  When we were considering adopting Leo, I promised Jeremy that if it were in Leo's and our families best interest that we would send him to school when the time came. 

What I didn't realize at the time was that we would be inviting the village into our home on a weekly basis and that the "villagers" would become good friends and role models.  As many of you know, Leo's needs are extensive.  At the age of one, he was developmentally the age of a  3 month old and lower in some areas.

About three months after Leo came to live with us we entered the world of early intervention.  All of a sudden we had 4 strangers/ villagers (aka therapists) coming into our home for an hour each week.  That meant everyday (but Monday) we had someone coming in for an hour to work with Leo and me. Doesn't sound like much except we homeschool and school work goes on even when a therapist is here.  Also, because I don't like guests seeing messes, the living room had to be cleaned up before the therapist arrived. 

In the beginning I wasn't sure we really needed the villagers, but because Leo was initially not officially ours yet (it would take a year for the adoption to become final), we had to at least explore early intervention per our agency.  My initial thinking was both Jeremy and I have college degrees, we have 5 other kids, who are more or less normal, we can figure Leo out.

Leo was evaluated and basically qualified for every therapy.  Our casemanger knowing I was apprehensive promised me the best therapists.  She delivered. 

Four therapists began coming to our home.  Working with Leo on a weekly basis.  A lot of what they said was common sense, but common sense I needed to be reminded of.   They encouraged me to keep on working with Leo even when we were seeing no progress.  Their expertise was invaluable as they helped us get a much needed swallow study and encouraged me to challenge the eye doctor, which led Leo to getting his much needed glasses.  They helped us know when Leo was ready for his walker and ankle braces and they ordered them for us.  They kept me from purchasing needless equipment, explaining to me why Leo didn't need something.  They let us borrow toys and equipment for Leo to try out before we purchased. 

And yes, sometimes, they did know more then I did especially about specific areas such as eating, vision, walking and how it all related to a kid like Leo.  We needed them if for nothing more then the accountability that I knew they were coming and would ask what we worked on that week.  They understood if we had a bad week and accomplished nothing.  They cheered with us over all progress- big and little.  They respected our space.  They respected the fact that there were other children here and that we were a homeschooling family.  They used Leo's siblings (who wanted to be involved) in his therapy.  They were awesome.

Today is a bitter sweet day.  Today Leo has his last therapy as part of the early intervention system.  I am sad to be saying good bye to some of the sweetest women I know.  Today I can say, I have seen the village and you know it really benefited Leo and made his life better. 

I won't lie- I am a bit apprehensive about going to visit a different village (aka special preschool) for Leo next week- but who knows, we have heard wonderful things about these villagers- maybe they won't be so bad.  Post to follow.

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