Jacob was thrown out of his zero to three program when he turned three. It wasn’t anything he or I had done, he aged out. My immediate reaction was to feel panic and terror at the thought of losing this secure and comfortable connection that had provided us all with so much nurturing. During his first three years, we had experts coming to our house, a center program for Jacob two mornings a week, and a parent group for meā€”what else could a parent of a young child with a visual impairment and numerous other disabilities want? Here I was, a woman who had traveled around the world alone, freaking out about a change in my son’s program.

My first reaction was denial. I wouldn’t talk about it, think about it, or visit any programsā€”so there. I was furious that other children in the group got to stay and mine had to leaveā€”the fact that they were not yet turning three did not lessen my anger. I yelled at my spouse, other parents, and our very patient case manager. After venting for quite a while, I decided that it wouldn’t hurt to look at programs, just in case they were serious about him aging out. After we saw three of them, I was able to visualize Jacob in a preschool program, and we picked the one we liked best.

Then came the dreaded first IEP. This was years before IFSPs were invented, so it was our first meeting to plan Jacob’s life. After all sorts of assessments were completed, we went to the IEP with me shaking in my boots. I had heard all the horror stories about IEPs and had been to a training so that I was prepared for the worst. For protection, my husband and I brought our own entourage that included Jacob’s Blind Babies Foundation counselor, his case manager from the zero to three program, his speech therapist, and his occupational therapist. We wowed them, and the IEP went well.

Jacob is now 25 and has been through many transitions successfully, but that first one was definitely the worst for me.

Judith Lesner
Oakland, California