Happy new year! Since we last spoke, I have several things to report:
- Insurance: Well, despite my best efforts, we did not see a dime from Cigna. Once they finally reprocessed the 2015 claims after the appeal, they applied them to our deductible…and we fell just short. In other words, because we are on a high deductible plan, we need to spend a certain amount of money out of pocket before Cigna pays anything. That said, I have called Cigna to initiate another appeal for 2016’s speech claims (yes, they all have been denied as “not covered under your plan” despite the successful appeal, and yes, I have to appeal again), and I am fairly confident that we will meet the deductible and see some money back in our account. It makes no sense to me that I have to initiate an identical appeal when one was just decided in our favor, but I am happy to photocopy my 100+ pages and exhibits and wash, rinse and repeat.
- Speech: Eli continues to receive private speech therapy 3 days a week.
- Smarty pants: #mombrag. Eli knows his entire alphabet, can count to 20, loves identifying letters, numbers, shapes, colors, animals, characters and more. His speech is not super intelligible when it comes to certain words, but he loves to identify something, show it to the listener and get reassurance that the listener has understood by repeating what Eli has said. It makes him so happy!
The last update is lengthy: School. Since Eli turned 3, as I detailed in my last post, he received an IEP through the county. He was attending his regular preschool with substantial support from a special ed teacher 45 minutes a day. She was great and really went out of her way to modify the classroom with pictures and communication boards so he could better communicate. Unfortunately, it became clear to everyone working with Eli including us that while he was making a lot of progress, he was not making as much progress as he could in a different environment. His teachers meant well, and were eager to help, but they are not trained to work with kids like Eli and had ten other 3 year olds to care for too. I don’t fault them at all; they truly tried. Through a series of conversations with his teachers, staff and IEP team, we made the decision to move Eli to a county preschool that is visually structured. This link provides a good explanation of what a “visually structured” class is. So, big man is attending a public elementary school that also has pre-k. I should note that Eli has not been diagnosed as on the autism spectrum, but the inability to communicate and behaviors and difficulties that stem from that mirror kids who are on the spectrum. And, some kids on the spectrum also have apraxia or other communication challenges. He is not at the same school as his sister, only because they don’t have this pre-k setup, but they are on the same calendar and schedule and a 14 minute drive apart.
Yesterday, Eli began his stint at his new school. He had a great first day. He went right in and found his favorite ball toys which he plays with at speech:
There were no tears, no “what the hell am I doing here and who are these people?” looks, just a kid who walked in, sized up the situation and did his thing. I don’t know what his right hand is searching for in this toy.
The teacher knew that I was nervous, as she had been in contact with me in the days leading up to school starting, and texted me updates throughout the day. I am happy to report that he had a great first day! Here are some of the things he did:
The class is small–nine kids ranging in age from 3-5, one teacher and three assistants. Many of them are on the spectrum and/or have developmental delays, communication disorders, and the like. In addition to our speech therapist, Eli will see the school speech therapist 4 times a week. When I picked him up early to go to speech, he was tired, even though he had napped! But when I asked him yes or no questions about whether he wanted to go back, see the teachers, see his friends, and play, I got resounding yeses. Today, he wanted me to walk him into his class, but his teacher opened the door and he walked right in without looking back. I am hopeful that Eli can make great strides in this setting.