Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Here Comes the IEP: Thoughts on a Meeting

I have a headache. The IEP is Friday. This is a big one- we are transitioning to a new school, one with people who don't know Joey. I have to find a way to translate what I see into terms of black and white, specific goals to be met, skills to be taught. I have to walk that line of what he cannot do, weighed with what he can; He is doing super-well, but he's still disabled. I have to get people to understand why functioning is important to educational progress. School people patting themselves on the back for how far he's come, and having to dampen that with how far we have to go.

Why can't Joey join in pretend games with other children? Why is that important to his academic progress? How do you explain the value of dynamic intelligence, of social inclusion, of being able to connect and remain connected? How do you explain intellectual development as more than reading, writing, and arithmetic, in a world where standardized testing reigns supreme?

Why can't Joey grasp the idea of history and time, when he can tell you exactly what time it is at any given moment? How do you express concern about teaching abstract concepts to a child who is so firmly concrete?

Why can't I get Joey to read at home, independently? Why can't I get him to focus on a book? What I can I do to help him understand the importance of being able to find information for himself? How do we instill a sense of imagination, so that he will better be able to problem-solve and think outside the box?

And how do I introduce this child to these new folks? Should I be assembling a set of notebooks, packed with information about autism and approaches to teaching? Do I need more than the latest set of evaluations, thin as that packet now is? Should I have called Kluge and had a full re-evaluation?

Then there is the looming battle of OT. I've already been given the heads' up that the OT wants to release him to "consult only." Yet I see so many issues, some of them even regressions. I can't get the private eval until May, so I won't have that piece of paper to fight this battle. Should I take a clip form kindergarden, place next to a clip from last month, and make that part of my powerpoint? I know Mrs. H will be there and have a plan for him, she'll be there to help, she'll be there for him, but next year, I'm on my own again, and we don't know who will be doing the program management, or if that person will care about Joey. Will this new school be more like this one, or more like the preschool? Will they have the skills to give Joey what he needs, or will I have to fight for training, service, understanding?

Farewell, frying pan. Namaste, Agni.


Niksmom said...

The thing(s) that keep going through my head as I read and re-read this post: (1) BREATHE.
(2) You don't have to explain the value of those skills to these people. You need to ask them if it would be acceptable to them that THEIR child (or other "typical" children) didn't get the benefit of those skills? Why is it acceptable for anyone to set the bar lower just bc a child is atypical (and I mean, really, outsied the statistical norms) in the way they learn?

If "typical" children get access to these same "intangibles" as part of their education, then Joey should as well.Remind them that FAPE is all about access. In NOT teaching Joey certain things, they may be denying his future access to those same educational benefits the other kids derive. They are closing the door before they even know if he can walk through it. That's pretty much a guaranteed outcome, a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Will be thinking good, positive, peaceful thoughts for you this week, my dear.

farmwifetwo said...

My youngest son's term 3 IEP is a waste of paper. I'm very unimpressed but since I stayed out of it...

Today we saw the new classroom, the new school. We're headed to spec ed... the Teacher is AMAZING, integration is a given for phys ed, music and art. Weaned in if necessary, different classrooms for each other children... BUT IPRC's (identification, placement, review committee) stuff for developmental classrooms is at the end of April first of May.

2 more weeks... we've been working for 4.5 mths to get here... I'm terrified something's going to go wrong and we'll be stuck where we are until Gr 8. Yes, there's an appeals process but...

We've been screwed over so many times....

Best of luck with yours.

ghkcole said...

Iep prep can stress us out so much; it feels so high stakes. But don't let it make you too crazed. You are a wonderful advocate for your son, and all readers here can see his progress thanks to the supports you help provide. I hope your iep goes well, and I'll be sending good thoughts. Eager to read more.

Jessica said...

Totally emphasise. My last born who is autistic went through this last year and despite the experience we went through with his older sibling who is also autistic, the transition has been far from smooth. There still is a real lack of understanding of our children and despite the occasional good book (I stumbled across an interesting book by The Medikidz) there is also a lack of information for outsiders...Wishing you the best of luck..

mommy~dearest said...

Ugh... Good Luck!!!!
We have "OT consult". It sucks.

Chaoticidealism said...

I know he's not nearly as old as I am, but as a college student dealing with the voc rehab people, I often have to emphasize long-term benefits when I ask for something. (Incidentally, I have an IPE... which is just like an IEP for work instead of school, except in my case work means school... confusing, huh?)

Anyway, all those things that your Joey needs to learn that don't contribute directly to his schoolwork--yeah, think long-term. You know it, but the school often doesn't think past the immediate; if his grades are fine they assume there's no problem. But not everything has to do with grades. Emphasize how he'll need these skills when he gets a job later on--how he'll need to learn to get along with co-workers, work in groups, use schedules, etc.

Schools try to ignore it, but the fact is that they are not just supposed to teach academics to disabled kids. They are supposed to prepare said kids for transitioning into the world after school. And it makes more sense to think now rather than later about the skills he'll need for daily life. Some schools try to push it off till the kids are seventeen-and-a-half, and then use the excuse "but we taught him to take the bus", but that ain't acceptable... education's more than just academics.