Hand to Hold's Official Blog: Written by Parents for Parents

Embracing Delays For Our School Bound Preemie

Building for a brighter future

Building for a brighter future

Our son Jayden has accomplished so much in his first three years. How he has grown as an explorer, learner, and social butterfly has been quite exciting. Since his second birthday, Jayden has been receiving therapy through Early Intervention, which has certainly helped him along. Despite all of his accomplishments, he still has a way to go in regards to speech and developmental delays.

Being overly thorough preemie parents, we are not leaving any stone unturned. In addition to his recent medical evaluation at the Erikson Institute, Jayden had his school based evaluation a few weeks ago. I was so nervous about it because I wanted them to get a real snapshot of where he was. While I am eager to see Jayden progress, I didn’t want him to do so well that he didn’t qualify for the extended school year program. With all he has accomplished in this past year, to have Jayden out of therapy and not in a classroom setting for four months would stunt his progress significantly.

We had to wait two weeks to get a draft of the evaluation findings. That’s a long time when so much is at stake. We received the email late in the afternoon and I tried to read through twelve pages of information in five minutes before I had to leave for work. It was a fool’s errand, no doubt. Our conference with the preschool staff was the next day. Once I had a chance to sit down and actually read the assessment, reality slapped me right in the face. While our son’s delays have been quite apparent to us, the evaluation team marked him further behind in some areas than we anticipated.

When we met with the team to develop an Individualized Education Plan , or IEP as it’s most commonly known, we were eager to dive into what they saw. While we sat down and discussed the teams findings, I couldn’t help but reflect on my own obstacles as a child. It was like looking in the mirror. Easily distractible? Check. Trouble focusing on singular tasks? Check. Reading these findings gives me two choices: I can let this reality bother me and be a problem, or I can use this experience as a tool to help Jayden along his journey as he gets older.

We were thrilled the school district decided to offer Jayden the extended school year services. He starts school this week! As being the parents of a preemie, we find it is sometimes scary to venture into the unknown. But we are so very excited for this next chapter of his life. Whether it be weeks or months or years, we are eager to see the returns from a structured classroom setting.

Joel Brens About Joel Brens

As a father, Joel Brens (IL) wants to dispel the idea that dads can't be scared or emotional beings. His wife gave birth to their son via emergency c-section due to complications from diastolic umbilical artery flow at just under 33 weeks. Their son was born in May 2010 at 3lbs. 6oz. and spent 25 days in the NICU while his lungs developed and he learned to eat. Presently, he is undergoing evaluation for developmental and speech therapy but otherwise doing well. Community and support have been essential to Joel and his wife. You can connect with Joel on his Facebook page, via email or on his blog, Papas of Preemies.


  1. Sometimes, when I start getting really depressed reading the results of evals and progress reports, I remind myself that documented challenges and delays mean more services. And that’s a good thing. Hope school is a huge success!

    • Melissa I completely agree. While we want him to get to a point where he is closing the gap between where he is and where he needs to be, these services are so critical for his progress. Despite the hurdles we face, we are so very excited for what the future holds. It’s also nice to know the school district is known for doing great with kids who have IEP’s. Thank you for your encouraging words.

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience. Your article really resonated with us. Our son was born at 31+5 weeks, 3lbs 4oz, 32 days in NICU with breathing and feeding issues. We’re just finishing my son’s first year of full-time primary school, but we’re based here in England. He’s had IEPs for both pre-school and school this year, and they have been an effective tool.

    Just wanted to share this summary from a conference held in London in January 2013, which parents and educators of school age preemies may find useful.


    Very best wishes and many thanks again.

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