Preschool Programs in the City for Special Needs kids/ADHD

Updated on March 02, 2009
L.Z. asks from Chicago, IL
11 answers

I have a 2 1/2 year old boy who is currently in a montessori program. He is using a lot of attention-seeking behaviors in the classroom and sometimes dangerous behaviors (for attention, fortunately not to hurt other children). He is very disruptive. I have had him tested by Early Intervention and he has been receiving speech therapy and behavioral therapy. The recommendatiosn have been that the montessori classroom is probably not the best for him - that he needs more structure and firm discipline, which is not the mode of montessori. I am now trying to work through CPS to bridge him to Early Childhood and am not getting the best feedback as far as finding a program that will meet his needs and "show him the way" at this crucial time in his life. Studies have repeatedly shown that the earlier you get your child help, the greater the chance they have of leading a normal life. I am about to get him evaluated at UIC in their behavioral disorders clinic. I have a feeling his behaviors are fitting in the ADHD profile, although he is young for a definitive diagnosis. He is very difficult to discipline, is very oppositional, and just can't focus or sit still. Does anyone know of any preschool programs in the city for kids like my son? I feel so helpless - if CPS can't help him and can't make any recommendations of programs that will help him, where am I to turn. I am desperate to get him the help he needs now. Any advice would be so much appreciated. Thank you!

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So What Happened?

My deepest thanks to all of the warm-hearted people who responded. My son was diagnosed with PDD-NOS (on the "normal" end of the autism spectrum so we are starting more therapies through EI. I am hoping we can get him into a good CPS school with a blended program because it will be so much more affordable. If anyone knows of CPS school with good blended programs, please send the name of the school my way so I can narrow down my search. My son is already in the process of being tested by CPS and we have an IEP meeting for early June. Thanks again.

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A.M.

answers from Chicago on

I would go to Smart Love Family Services. They have a chicago and oak park branch. The psychologists there are fabulous. It may be that he needs a very different parenting style and that "firm discipline" may not work very well with him. 2 books well worth reading are: Smart Love by Martha Heineman Pieper and William Pieper and Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn. Their approach which is neither traditional discipline nor permissive is hard work but has great long term results with respect to parent-child relationships and is backed up by a lot of clinical research. Good Luck.

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K.N.

answers from Chicago on

You are getting good advice about getting him evaluated through the schools, though i would get the ball rolling now. Your neighborhood school is the right place to start, but may or may not have the right program for your child. There are special ed classrooms for preschool children as well as blended classrooms, in which there is a mix of regular and special ed children and two teachers, one with special ed credentials. You might also call the office of early childhood at cps for help. They should at least be able to tell you who to contact.
It sounds like you might also need some help with managing his behavior at home. A place like Tuesday's Child can help you set up the appropriate structure and routines to help him develop functional behavioral patterns at home.
Best of luck.

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A.K.

answers from Chicago on

First of all, my son received speech, PT and OT through EI. He is now at Farnsworth Elem receiving the same services. CPS HAS to take your child once he turns 3. It is against the law for them to not accept him. You can check with your case manager through EI and ask who your parent liasion is. Ours was AMAZING and had kids who went through the system of EI and are now in CPS. If you would like to talk to our parent liasion, she could definitely help you and calm your nerves. She knows that system and can help. Don't worry- I think kids will special needs definitely need structure and a ROUTINE which montessori doesn't provide as much as they really need. Email me if you would like the info for the parent liasion. Good luck, it will work out- sometimes you have to take things or threaten them with legal which I did- but after doing that, he was in a program 2 DAYS later:)

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T.B.

answers from Chicago on

L.:
I'm not sure that my information will help, but did want to connect with you.

We recently adopted a 3 year-old with behavioral and sensory issues. As she is over 3, she is now receiving services and attending a preschool program through our local elementary school (Oak Park). Each elementary school district is in charge of 3-5 interventions, so CPS should have something for you once he's 3. Sounds like you already know that as you've made contact with them already.

Unfortunately, we haven't located any other great preschool options for ourselves (our daughter's symptoms are pretty difficult). As an alternative to a preschool program, you might want to find a sitter with experience with ADHD. We found a good sitter, using Sitter City. They have specific items where a sitter can mark that they've worked with kids with ADHD or other special needs and you can search by this. Alternatively, you could make a post saying that you are seeking someone with this experience.

Sitter City was inexpensive and easy to use. It also helps you keep track of responses and past messages. We found an outstanding person as well as several other great candidates.

Are you close to Oak Park at all? There is a good support group for parents that meets once a month, at night. It's run by an O.T. (who works with older kids) who is also a parent of a special needs child.

I would be interested in knowing what your experience with U. of I. is and who you are working with.

I hope that something here was useful. Good luck. Feel free to email me off [email protected]____.com

T.

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B.D.

answers from Chicago on

I am not aware of pre-school programs in the city for this type of special need; However, I am aware that some schools do offer free testing at the age of 4-5 to determine if a child has any learning disabilities, and, do have some special needs services - I am not sure as to which ones/where they have. Try contacting the Kinzie school here on the Southwest side (about 5700 s Mobile, zip 60638) perhaps can give you a referral or they can answer some of your questions? I had my nephew tested there prior to his enrollment into kindergarten. Sorry I don't have more info. - but its a place to start. Best of luck. A solution is out there.

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Y.B.

answers from Chicago on

The UIC has a preschool program but CPS hss a number so special early childhood programs. You would need to go through the neighborhood school first.If you have started a CPS evaluation then you know this.
Once you get a diagnosis then you will be better able to loacte the right program.
Head Start welcomes to accept children with disabilities and there are some Head Start programs in the CPS. This city is large and there are serveral regions so check out what is available in your area for Head Start call the city Department of Family Support Services or the Ounce of Prevention Fund.

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K.C.

answers from Chicago on

CPS does not test kids until they are closer to 3 because they are changing so much developmentally at that time. They will take your son after he turns 3. Until then, you are on the right track getting him EI services and taking him OUT of Montessori. You did not mention if you are able to provide the structure and discipline for him at home. If you are that would be the best thing for him right now so that his behavior does not worsen. Completely eliminating TV at home may help his attention problems if you haven't already tried it.

We moved out of the city in order to find an appropriate preschool for our older son (not the only reason). CPS did not work for him and now he is thriving at an early childhood program in Glenview. From our experience, this type of program simply does not exist in the city since resources are so stretched and they have to take everyone.

Good luck with your son! That is such a tough age to deal with especially when they are challenging already.

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M.G.

answers from Chicago on

Please be sure your child is getting enough sleep (lots of it with a very early bedtime!), healthy food (no sugar of any sort!) and a lot of love before anyone labels him/her.

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M.M.

answers from Chicago on

It's wonderful that you are able to start helping your child at such a young age - we missed all of the signs (as did his daycare and CPS preschool) until ours was 4 going on 5. We were told that our (very smart) child was disruptive, a class clown, is making bad choices. Now we know we are dealing with sensory, emotional and ADHD issues. But with the right counseling and teacher advocates, things can work very well. Keep an eye out for sensory issues, too. Your child and mine sound like they have similar issues. Now for some resources: I noticed one post referenced the Family Resource Center. Call them. Our private family counselor referred me to them as our OT left our child's CPS school and now he is not receiving the services he is entitled to through his 504 plan. If you are not familiar with what a 504 or IEP is and does, ask the Family Resource Center to help you understand.

I have heard that Nettelhorst and Alcott schools are good with children with behavioral challenges. I believe Alcott has a tuition-based preschool program. Go and tour both schools (and other schools you want to explore). It takes time but it's worth it.

I hope you don't mind, I'm going to be bold and offer other things that we have learned through several years of OT and counseling: keep a journal. This helps you track your child's behavior. Limit television/computer time. It's hard but necessary. If EI hasn't already assisted you with implementing behavioral modification at home, ask for counsel in that regard. Finally, when my child is being defiant or combative, I always acknowledge that I hear him before helping him switch gears. It doesn't always work, but it often helps. These kids need to know the world is not against them, so acknowledging them is important. Good luck! It is super hard but it gets easier.

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J.W.

answers from Chicago on

http://www.bellecenter-chicago.org
http://www.frcd.org/

I cannot recommend these two organizations enough. The FRCD has a free parent training on how to navigate the CPS for special needs kids. It was an INVALUABLE resource. My daughter is placed in an excellent spec needs classroom which I am sure is due in no small part to me having my act together at those IEP meetings.

Best of luck. This is a tough road to hoe, but it is possible to get decent services through CPS.

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J.W.

answers from Chicago on

If you do get him tested, get him tested for sleep apnea. Most kids that are diagnosed with ADHD often have sleep apnea and are overtired. You can read more here

http://www.drgreene.com/21_621.html

And google for more info. The issue I find with Montessori..they let the kids nap if they want. Kids under the age of 2-12 still need at least 10hrs of sleep per night. If he is not sleeping soundly and has sleep apnea, his overtiredness can affect his behavior. Something to consider.

Good Luck!
J. W. MPH
Wellness Educator

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