This blog chronicles the miracles and struggles of our daughters, Emily and Olivia. Emily was born 15 weeks early and had many complications, but she continues to amaze us! Olivia, born in China with heart complications, is also beating the odds. She joined her forever family (us!) when she was four years old and has been doing wonderfully! UPDATE: We started homeschooling August 2009 :)

Friday, November 30, 2007

Emily's school conference

It's been a few weeks since we had Emily's IEP and parent teacher conference and I'm finally getting around to writing about how she's doing at school. A quick background for those that don't know Emily's history...she was born 15 weeks early at 1.5 pounds and had quite a few issues as a result. Her fragile, damaged lungs were her main health problem that kept her on life support in the hospital for five months and then she eventually came home on supplemental oxygen which she needed until she was almost three. Miraculously, she is now amazingly healthy and does not even suffer from asthma :) Thankfully, health is no longer a concern, but she still has a few lingering developmental/neurological issues that impact her learning.

This is Emily's first year in all-day school--first grade--so we were curious to hear her teachers' impressions about how she is doing. And...(drum roll, please) I'm pleased to report that she is doing very well :) Her classroom teacher said she is very proud of her and that she is "holding her own." In the IEP report, I was very happy to read the words, "Emily is a good student." Some other descriptions in the report that pleased me were: sweet, happy, friendly, eager, conscientious, kind, caring, respectful, prepared and ready to learn, anxious to please, works hard to do her best, takes great pride in her work, a good listener who follows directions... all music to my ears :)

I bolded that last comment because of it's significance. One area of weakness continues to be auditory processing (listening comprehension) so I was particularly pleased to hear that she is able to follow directions and function well in the classroom. Her teacher pointed out that in first grade there are still a lot of pictures and visual cues to aid in comprehension so Emily has been able to do well in spite of her listening weakness. However, we're not out of the woods yet. Her speech teacher reports that "She does very well re-telling stories or events with picture support, but had difficulty when auditory information is presented by itself." So, while we are very pleased that she is doing well, we know that we'll have to continue working on this area since picture/visual support will fade as instruction moves to more of a lecture style through the years. We are continuing to try to build up this area of weakness with NILD Educational Therapy after school twice a week. You can learn more about NILD (National Institute for Learning Development) here.

The teacher was also pleased with her reading ability and noted that Emily knew 50/50 on a test of sight words and her reading comprehension test scores put her in the range of end of first grade/early second grade level. Her spelling and writing were also at a good level, but she will be working with an occupational therapist to work on her writing form (she needs reminders to use lower case letters, start at the left side of the page vs. middle, and to write within the lines).

The teacher said that while Emily is doing well and holding her own, if she had to pick an area of weakness, it would be math. This summer we worked on addition (using Touch Math) and that's coming along quite nicely and now we're drilling with flashcards, but counting mixed coins is another story. She doesn't seem to have a good grasp of numbers and sometimes prefers to make wild guesses rather than think through the problem. I recently started doing Hooked on Math with her and after we tackle addition facts, subtraction is next...and then book #2 gets into coins. I have faith that even if she struggles with math concepts, she's got a good memory that will come in handy for remembering math facts. Hopefully the concepts will eventually sink in, too.

Overall, we are very pleased and encouraged, but we also want to make sure we keep plugging away to make sure she continues to be successful. I'm thrilled to see how far she's come and how she is now just a "normal" kid. Normal in the sense that not only had she defied the odds by being alive and healthy, she is fitting in well at school, has friends and is a good student. I just love getting answered prayers :)

Oh, there's one more piece of good news from the IEP meeting that I almost forgot to mention. When Emily was in preschool and again in kindergarten we'd taken her to a pediatric neurologist due to concerns about her distractibility, wondering if she had ADD. At our last visit he said to wait until she's in school all day and to return if she was still having difficulty staying on task. Knowing that it may take a while to see the doctor, I made an appointment for December just in case it was needed. However, I was thrilled to cancel the appointment after bringing it up with her teachers! When I posed the question, everyone at the IEP meeting agreed that her focus was no longer an issue and that no one thought I needed to keep the appointment :) WOO HOO!! That means we don't have to deal with a possible label of ADD or face the sticky dilemma of whether or not to medicate. At least for now. Another answered prayer :)

Next week we'll celebrate Emily's birthday. On December 6 she is going to be EIGHT years old!! Some of you have been following--and praying for--her progress through these updates, long before this blog, back in her NICU days. Thank you for your all your prayers and support that have gotten us to this point. Maybe it really does take a village ;-)


Pamela said...

That's great news Karyn! I'm glad that Emily is doing well.


Kai said...

As one of Emily's former NICU nurses, it has been amazing to "watch" her progress. I have enjoyed reading the emails as they have come in and have been following along the blog when Olivia came into the picture as well.
Keep the emails coming and God continue to bless you all,
Kai Luppino