Cameron had a difficult beginning to say the least. Due to many factors beyond our control, I knew early on my son would have a lifetime of challenges, many medical, but many having to do with his learning and speech. He was hospitalized for several weeks with an unknown virus that devastated his body and left us with many more questions than answers. During this time, Cameron was without oxygen on two different occasions and his prognosis was very grave. Doctors tried to give me encouragement but not necessarily high hopes. After scans of Cameron's brain, we knew there was damage, the extent to which he would function “normally” would be a waiting game. We began therapies as soon as he was strong enough and have continued to do so since he was two months old. Cameron was learning, but would regress immediately if not reinforced. He had all of the classic signs associated with his loss of oxygen, but I was not going to put any limits upon him, nor was I going to let his educators. He began a PPCD program at the age of three and he was doing very well, so well, in fact, he was moved into a “regular” setting against my misgivings. After finding Cameron not only falling further behind, but actually regressing in this new classroom, I knew something more had to be done. Thankfully, his needs were not that overwhelming, but he needed more attention then he was receiving. I had no idea where to put my child in the fall for his kindergarten year. I felt this year and first grade would be crucial in knowing Cameron's “limits” or difficulties in school.
Reading is such an integral part of a child's learning. I wanted Cameron to have a solid base and love for reading which I felt could only happen in a positive atmosphere. He was having a hard time retaining his learning and language skills, mainly because they weren't being reinforced in a way that was meaningful to him. I could see his frustration slowly building and I felt unable to help him in this type of setting. I knew his frustration would only be compounded in a larger classroom with little guidance. Cameron could talk, that was certainly not his problem; understanding him all of the time was our problem! We went to many, many outside therapies, but these disruptions to our everyday life – not to mention the cost – were wearing on all of us. I didn't want to overload Cameron, but he needed additional services that I felt he couldn't receive in a pull-out program in a regular education class. He also needed additional help with his handwriting.
I had heard about Capitol School from an occupational therapist we visited and thankfully we were put on the mailing list. After receiving information about the summer program, I immediately called the school and set up an appointment. Cameron loved Capitol's summer camp and could not wait to start school in the fall. Having previously been a kindergarten teacher, I knew the skills necessary to be a “successful” student. After seeing his first report card in Ms. Ysidra's class, I knew Cameron was right on track in reading, math and all subjects. By the end of the year, he was even beginning to master first grade concepts. I have no doubt that this would definitely not have been the case had Cameron been in a large classroom setting with only one teacher. Cameron rushes through speaking. Fortunately, Ysidra and Raquel have the skills and patience to teach him to slow down. They have made a world of difference in Cameron's education.
Also, now during school hours, he loves to go to the motor room for his individualized occupational therapy and Ms. Renee has been working wonders with him. Before, he would find excuses not to color or write, but now he has more confidence and control and loves to draw. Having OT at school has the added benefit of leaving our afternoons open for more fun activities such as soccer, swim team and Cub Scouts – he loves and does great at them all!
Limitations are sometimes placed upon these children not only by doctors, but also by parents and educators as well. Capitol School is an exception. The children at Capitol School succeed and the teachers are one of the main reasons why.
In such a small setting, Cameron is well known and transitions are easy for him. He feels great about himself, which is always a concern for parents of a child with special needs. These incredible teachers allow the children to be who they are and, in fact, celebrate it. We are so thrilled to be starting first grade next year and to be opening up a new world to Cameron with the gift of reading, something I thought would be years away.