Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Snag in the Plan

Andy is on the verge of being tossed out of preschool.

Andy loves preschool. He has no trouble seperating from me. He's very interested in the activities. He loves having friends. He has some usual 3-year-old troubles of sharing and paying attention. He's eager to learn and to be at school.

So what is the problem? Anyone else who has dealt with a "normal" preschool probably guessed it- toileting.

Many boys do not fully toilet independantly until they are four years old. Preschools don't care. Normal preschools now expect three year old children to be able to communicate effectively when they need the bathroom even during busy and interesting activities, walk into a bathroom stall by themselves, pull down their own clothes, completely void, wipe themselves effectively, pull up all clothing themselves, walk out of the stall to the sink, wash their hands, and return to the teacher waiting in the doorway, all independently- no prompts. None.

This means a child can be developmentally appropriate, even gifted, and have no where to attend school. Here, unless you can demonstrate a child has a 25% delay in something, the child cannot get into the special ed program. At age 3, 25% is a serious delay. However, even within a normal toilet-training timeline, a child is denied a "regular" program, because children must be "fully toilet-trained" as defined above. Verbal prompting through the steps of toileting is not an option. Visual prompts are not an option. The person cannot walk in and help the child unless there is another adult also in the bathroom (state law), so if the child, say, has trouble pulling up their underwear, they are not "fully toilet trained." If they have trouble focusing on tasks or pulling themselves away from tasks independently (if they need the prompt "Time for the potty!"), they are "not fully toilet trained." You can count to ten, ID all your colors, and know three letters, but you need a prompt for the potty? Sucks to be you. Get out.

Now, had I known this was the definition when I enrolled him last spring, I would have spent more OT time and more home time on these skills, instead of letting him "take his own time." All this literature about not pressuring kids to toilet train? Throw it OUT THE WINDOW. If they can't go to preschool with their peers solely due to this one weak skill, then more focus needs to be placed there, because it seems to be the one and only weakness that precludes participation in preschool absolutely. You can't wait, because you can't hold the child into an extra year of preschool. You can't place a normal 5-year-old into the 4-year-old class. You can't just stick your 3-year-old with the twos. All of the other kids have two years of preschool, some of them three, and your kid has one, guess who gets left behind? Guess who doesn't have the socialization skills and experience? Classroom skills? Andyes, there are kids who show up to kindergarden with no preschool at all, for various reasons. I've seen what becomes of them. It isn't pretty. When all the other kids are in reading group, writing their names, and standing in line, your kid gets labeled real quick- and its not a label you want the kid going through school with.


Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

Oh, this drives me crazy! Our preschool choices were extremely limited, because I wanted to start my kids in school at two, but due to state regulations, most preschools wouldn't take a child who wasn't potty trained by two -- TWO?!

Maya M said...

My sympathy to you, to Andy and your entire family. The situation is outrageous.
I had the same problem a year ago. My son, then 3, wasn't toilet trained and couldn't talk. He is very likely to be on the spectrum. The local kindergarten refused to take him. Happily, another one, at the other end of the city, accepted him. The people were very kind. They agreed for him to stay in diapers.
For me, it is clear that the preschool people just don't want Andy. There is a law banning them go accompany him in the toilet, but there is hardly any law banning them from prompting him. I guess, there are more children in this age group than preschool positions, so they try to order out every child who could mean more work for them. You could perhaps fight and force them to accept him, but it hardly makes sense if they don't really want him.
If you had money, you would easily find a way out. Some private kindergarten or a half-day nursery school plus a babysitter to pick him at lunch (and little liquids at breakfast). You are a university teacher, so I guess you aren't a millionaire. However, there must still be a way out. Look for another preschool. Try to connect to other parents in the same situation.
Good luck!

mcewen said...

Yeah right! I'm gonna get stroppy now! I have perfect recall [ of a few teensy weensy events]

e.g. my two year and 10 month year old child reading the note [cursive] that he came home with
' this is your second warning - all pre schoolers must be fully toilet trained - no exceptions]

Followed by 'what does 'exceptions' mean mom?'

Tell em to go 'boil their heads.'

Casdok said...

Well sais Mcewen!

Niksmom said...

I am speechless at the schools' flawed and, frankly, discriminatory rules! Have you looked into any of the "commando" potty training "programs"(I don't know what they are called, sorry). I remember seeing something on Dr. Phil once...wish I could help!

Club 166 said...

Arrrrr! The bilge rats should be hung from the yardham by their thumbs! (It's 'Talk like a pirate day').

Sorry this is happening.


little.birdy said...

That is pretty stupid. Why on earth won't they prompt the kids?

JoeyAndyDad said...

Hey, school: You fired!