Yesterday evening, Hallie's preschool, the YCCA, held its annual Family Fun Day. It's one of a series of fundraisers that they hold in the spring so that they can do important things like upgrade their facilities (they recently did a complete renovation), buy excellent new toys (they own most of the Lakeshore Learning catalog from what I can tell, and this is a good thing), install air conditioning in their 17th-century building, and other fun stuff like that. We're thrilled to participate because, really, these events are a ton of fun. And, most importantly, let's not forget that the YCCA is one of the few preschools of which we are aware that's not just willing to tolerate a special needs kid (often implying that this is true as long as they are not too needy), but are actually inclusive by mandate: the school director, who is a trained music therapist and special educator, long aspired to open a preschool that welcomed kids who were not developing in completely typical ways. I dare say that she has achieved her goal: long before Hallie was willing to say a single word at school, Hallie's teachers made sure that she was not left off on the sidelines but that she actually was central to her peer group. As she's begun to speak more at school, they make sure that she is heard even though her voice is raspy and faint as a result of her vocal cord paralysis. They don't see a kid on the spectrum whose eye contact could be better and who can't really hold an age-appropriate conversation. They see, and appreciate, a little girl who knows the name of every animal and insect and sea creature out there; who has a prodigious memory; who loves books and stories and who is beginning to read; who knows a great deal of ASL (she still uses it with us and several of her teachers sign while they speak or sing); who loves art even if she has little strength in her fingers and cannot use a tripod grasp; and who, by their account, is one of the sweetest and most helpful kids out there who always gives instruments to peers who lack them during music time and who brings joy and unbounded enthusiasm into the room with her when she shows up at school. Of course, they also highlight her exceptional clean up skills; we see little of this at home but, then again, she's never playing teacher's pet at home, either. This, like clean up monitor, is a role that she reserves for school. I suspect that they are related.
Anyway, Hallie's buddies Taylor and Alex joined us for the evening.
Here are a couple of pictures of Kim and Taylor hanging out on the grounds of Old Swede's Church:
And here's one of Alex waiting patiently for her face to be painted by Hallie's teacher, Kristen:
Lea, however, might have been game for it; she certainly took active interest in it:
Ernie and Neal concert that the school had booked. From the moment she saw the musical instruments and heard the band warming up, Hallie's attention was riveted. While everyone else was chowing down on hot dogs, pretzels, and hummus and pita (which, of course, hold very little interest for our girl), Hallie was rocking out and dancing to Ernie and Neal's opening numbers.
Apparently, this was not lost on the duo. While I was off chasing Lea, they called Hallie up on "stage" and asked her to play lead air guitar on one of their numbers. Hallie was happy to participate:
Sadly, my skills as a videographer are limited, to say the very least. So, not only do you have to ignore the smudge in the lower right hand corner of this video, but you also might need a dose or two of dramamine. Apparently, having a PhD does not, in fact, provide one with sufficient common sense to realize that bopping up and down while taking a video is perhaps not the smartest thing one can do. On the upside, though, I did manage to get the entire song on digital video:
Later in the evening, a ladybug jumped onto Sharon's shirt and when we showed it to Hallie, she was thrilled and wanted to hold it.
We left at 7:30pm; by then the kids were a hot and sticky mess and covered in water ice and assorted grime. Hallie, Alex, and Lea (and Sharon, Sheila, and I) headed over to our house where I threw the kids in the bathtub and awaited pizza delivery. Bedtime was not terribly late last night, which is a very good thing.
On an only tangentially related note, here are some pictures from the Memorial Day picnic that was held at the YCCA on the Friday preceding the holiday weekend. The school regularly takes pictures of stuff like this and uploads them to a gallery that parents can access (and from which they can also download). We really like this feature.
Whoever took the pictures got some nice close up shots of Hallie.
They also took some group photos of our girl and her peers.