Well, I listened to you all, picked the brain of one of Chase's therapists, talked with the mommies in my group, inquired at the preschool, and trusted my gut...
...and Chase starts school tomorrow!!
He will be going on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9-12, which I think is perfect, aside from the fact that those are the opposite days that Ian goes, so I will not be gaining any alone time. That's ok, though. I wasn't really ready to send him away 3 days a week, and even though it makes a little more hassle on more days of the week (getting 3 children up and out the door before 9am) it makes for some time alone with Ian and Chase on their respective mornings at home with me, so that's cool.
The director of the school was really encouraging. She said she had another new one starting this week, too. She thought he'd fit in perfectly. She's going to make sure that the teachers in his room start to learn some sign since it's his main (ok, only) mode of communication right now.
Drawback to looking at the school:
It was impossible not to look at those other little kids in the one year old room and not think about what Chase isn't doing yet. The director made some comment about how the kids in the class I was watching were a little older than Chase (I was looking at the MWF class)-- that most of them were about to turn 2-- and that the other class had younger kids in it. And I couldn't help but think that um, Chase is almost 2. Well, closer to 2 than 1! I mean, we have 3 months left until the big 2. And the kids in there were walking all over. Not even that drunken sailor walk, the real one where they weren't so wobbly. I even saw running. And talking. One of the teachers said something like, "I love this age because they are saying new things every day." And I was like..."Yeah. Me too." Only Chase doesn't say new things every day. He isn't picking up words. He doesn't repeat everything I say. That hurts. A lot.
I know that Chase works at his own pace. And that he is learning new things. And he is starting to say things ('Hiiiiiiiii' and 'Dada' and the occassional 'Mamamamamama'). And he knows and can use over 30 signs. Some in 2 word sentences. He asks for help. He tells me what he wants to eat (as long as it's ice cream or banana or popcorn or cheese or apple). He stands up in the middle of the room and cheers for himself. He does awesome things.
But it's hard sometimes not to be slapped in the face by Down syndrome. I try really hard not to let it do that to me, but it's definitely there and I think acknowledging it is better than pretending it doesn't matter to me, even a little.
Ok. Pity party over. I'm off to fix my mascara.