In a word, she's doing GREAT. Last week, during the break from school, there was a group orientation session with the two teachers who will be handling the youngest kids in the preschool and I got a chance to talk briefly with Ms. Kerry, one of Hallie's current teachers. I asked her how Hallie was doing and she had nothing but glowing things to report. From her perspective, Hallie is making a very easy transition to life at school and has really held her own. Hallie's favorite subject is music and she's a major contributor to the song and dance routines that they do (and this is, not surprisingly, the session during which Hallie is most vocal. She loves to sing and has even begun singing us the songs they teach her in class with which we are unfamiliar). She loves the instruments, too, and always races to the piano to play it during class. This is a good thing because they're going to start teaching the little ones basic piano skills this coming year. Hallie will really enjoy it, and if she continues to exhibit deep interest in music, we'll try to enroll her in a Suzuki piano or violin class once she turns four. Anyway, the only negative behavior, of sorts, that Hallie exhibits is a marked penchant to run back into the music room even when it is no longer her turn to participate in music.
Hallie has been great at following directions and is getting very good at lining up with the other kids and waiting quietly for her name to be called to go to the next activity. She needs very little redirection at school at this point in the game and is not only demonstrating an independence of spirit but also a very good capacity to follow the rules and executive motor planning.
After all the buildup we gave them over her eating issues (which remain considerable at home), they weren't sure what to expect, but Hallie has really taken to the new school routine. Indeed, on several occasions Hallie has raced to the table to sit down and eat even before her food is ready to be consumed (which has led to a couple of incidents where she tries to sample other kids' lunches. Who is this kid anyway? She won't try anything new at home). On Monday (the day that she returned to school), Hallie's OT and PCA let her grab her own bag and sit down. Hallie opened the zipper herself, opened all of the containers, asked for help unwrapping and inserting the straw into her juice box (after trying in vain to accomplish this task on her own), ate about half of her pizza slice and a few bites of everything else in the lunch box, and did all of this in the stipulated half hour. The OT and PCA just stood back and watched. And then the OT called me all excited and sent me a couple of snapshots that she took with her Blackberry).
And, on top of all of this, Hallie is communicating and interacting with her peers a whole lot more right now. Last weekend, she tested out the phrase "C'mon guys/mommy/mama/etc, let's do 'x'." She's been doing this at school lately too and this is helping her make friends more easily. When I dropped off Hallie at school on Monday, one of the little girls who likes Hallie a lot (according to the therapists and PCA who report such things to me) was just arriving with her mom. When Hallie saw her, she ran over to her to say 'hi' and the little girl turned to her mom and asked, "When is Hallie coming to my house to play?" And this little girl is not Hallie's only friend, either. Apparently Hallie has two close friends named Ella and Elinor. When Hallie arrived at school yesterday, Ella asked Hallie to sit down next to her during storytime. And today Hallie played in a little posse in the schoolyard with Ella, Elinor, and a boy named Connor for quite some time.
The teachers and therapists have all taken note. This came in handy this week when Hallie's excellent PCA had a medical emergency with her own daughter (who is 18 months old and has severe cardiac issues. The PCA was checking her into CHOP for testing in order to get at the bottom of what is going on with her daughter. The PCA's mom is flying in to help but she couldn't get to Philly until tomorrow). Anyway, Latasha gave me advance notice and I was able to rearrange Nadia's hours so that she could accompany Hallie to school part of the time yesterday and the day before. But Nadia had other obligations on Tuesday and had to leave early. The teachers were fine with this and it gave them the opportunity to see how Hallie fares on her own. Apparently she did great. So, today, the teachers told Nadia that it was fine to leave Hallie on her own. Judging from the fact that Hallie was off playing quite happily when I arrived today and did not even notice my presence in the room for a few moments, it seems that Hallie handled this quite brilliantly.
Anyway, we're really proud of Hallie and how well she's handling school. And we're proud of her new language skills too. Tonight, at dinner, Sharon asked Hallie to chew her food fast and Hallie responded, "I chew slowly!" We're not sure where she learned adverbs, but somehow she's picked up these (and so many other rulers of grammar) quite easily.
OK--that's all for now, except to note that we're now up to 153 days without vomit this year. And since last year our total number was 154, I think it's safe to say that we're going to set a new record this year!