Friday, April 01, 2011

IEP Weekend

This is it. IEP weekend. Our IEP is Monday. I need to run to the store and stock up on vodka and peach brandy. A little Grand Marnier would not be out of line. And plenty of wine.

It is going to be a long weekend.

The facts come to this: Joey's last summer program was a disaster. His year has been a regressive disaster. My style of working with the school and trying to be flexible while getting Joey the support he needs has been a complete and utter failure. We were promised a resource room and now we are learning that it is not coming, that they are going to jerry-rig something that looks like it is not only going to not meet Joey's needs, and not get the much-needed resource room in place, but may even be detrimental to several other students in the system.


So while I am here putting together my power point and going through the failed IEP and figuring out how to get Joey a proper aide and all the ugly, nasty, wretched misery of what will likely be a highly adversarial, nasty, ugly IEP meeting, know I raise a glass to all of you, who know exactly what I mean, how little sleep I am destined for, and how many tears are going to be shed the next few days.

Good health and good things to each and every one of you. Keep the faith. Light it up blue.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My Proud Little Patriot

In super good news today, Andy got the Proud Patriot Award for his class for March. This is a pat on the back for kids who have been very well behaved and shown "good citizenship." His favorite girl friend also won it this month. They came bouncing in together. It was adorable. Her mom commented to me that they would someday have beautiful kids together. Hey, they've been best buds since they were 3. Who knows?

Eval Meetings Just Suck

How did the eval meeting go?

I learned nothing new.

I still have no idea what Joey can do, only how he compares to his peers on evals.

The good news is that he mostly tests at an average level for his age and grade.

The bad news is that these tests are administered and normed to non-disabled peers, so we have no idea how far above his grade level he can perform if given appropriate accommodations.

I have no idea what we are going to do with this information.

The other good news we got was that Mrs. H, our awesome teacher from the last school, is going to be split between the upper and lower elementary next year, so she will be working with Joey again. The bad news there is that they were supposed to hire somebody to be full-time in this school as a resource, and now they are splitting the resource between two schools, so that no one has Mrs. H to support them the whole day, as may be needed. But we'll have Mrs. H at our IEP on Monday, which rocks.

So, there was good, bad, ugly, and just useless. I hate eval meetings.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Big Story of Angry Birds, by Joey

I got this from Joey's teacher this morning. Click on it. It is worth seeing.

Reading log account
The Big Story of Angry Birds (Rovio)

1. The Pigs stole the birds' eggs without asking permission. And they started to get angry. The Yellow Bird got angrier then the blue one. The Red Bird got angrier than the Yellow Bird.
2. They want to get the eggs! (everyone) The Birds have got to trick the Pigs! The Mighty Eagle was there to save the day from the Pigs! The Birds don't want to get hurt!
3. The Next Morning the Pigs Asked permission to get one egg. And the birds said "Yes, you may have ONE egg.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Coming Soon: Re-Eval Meeting

When we had our last school meeting, we all noticed that Joey's evals were all woefully out of date, or oddly inaccurate. So we ordered a bunch of testing done, and on Wednesday, we get to look over what Joey looks like on paper.

In many ways, I love evals. They give me a little snapshot of what Joey is doing, what he isn't doing, hat he can do, and what he won't do. It also tells me a lot about the folks evaluating him, as they interpret what they see (and don't see), and how numbers on a paper relate to real actions and skills. Since Joey has so many splinter skills, it can tell me a lot when people act surprised, or talk about the problems of the testing tool, or what they think ought to be done based on the numbers. Some folks are brilliant evaluators. Some are mediocre. Some are idiots.

In many ways, I hate evals. To me, Joey is so brilliant, so creative and intelligent, so hard-working and really pitching, that seeing what that means on paper can be startlingly depressing. When you see how far he's come, and how hard he's fought to get there, to see those low percentiles and scores really takes the wind out of you. Oh, right, he's still disabled. But wow, this disabled? Really? And when I see how many kids are in worse shape than Joey, I wonder what their evals look like. And how their parents feel at these meetings. I get the feeling it ain't pretty.

I worry when I can be reading a story and have Joey just stand up and walk away, as if I wasn't even there. Andy asks questions, wants to look at the pictures, wants to talk about what might happen or what he knows is coming up in his favorites. Sometimes I think Joey is listening, but then he abruptly leaves. Or I think he's busy wiggling, and he comes back with something parroted from the book (so at least he's hearing me!) He has a lot of trouble remember what happens in a story from page to page. I think when I write my Joey Story, I am going to put him in it (to give it appeal) and keep it on a single spread (so we don't have to turn the pages).

I worry when he can't find an object that is right in front of him, or when he can't hand me something I am pointing to. Joint attention remains such a challenge for him. Following instructions in a set sequence is so frustrating. Using a button is still impossible. He's eight years old, and can't tie his shoes or button a pair of jeans. He can't follow dynamic pretend play. He can't maintain a conversation. Answering questions is still a challenge. Communicating events in his day is a distant dream for us.

What will the numbers say? Will they reflect his abilities and disabilities? Or even worse, will they not reflect his abilities and disabilities? How does the Joey on Paper relate to the Joey who is trying to survive school?