For the past two weeks I have been focused mainly on preparing for my sons IEP meeting. His last meeting left me feeling inadequate, and I promised myself that I would be better prepared. I prayed for guidance, talked to my husband, Chase’s ABA specialist and his service coordinator. I read blog posts about IEP’s and kiddos on the spectrum. I realized that some of the goals that had been implemented weren’t meeting his current needs. I researched language goals, social skills goals, and even academic goals that would fit my child’s needs. I taped conversations with my son asking him what he wanted from school. I learned that he would rather spend the majority of his time with Mrs. M, in the resource room. He likes going to recess, snack, and then reading as a class from the smart board for fifteen minutes (he really likes technology). He reiterated several times that Mrs. M.’s room was “cool” and that Mrs. S classroom wasn’t “cool enough” for him. It took me re-listening to the tape to realize that for Chase he needs an environment where he can focus for short periods of time and then shut down and rebut just like the technology that he is using.
By Thursday I had 35 questions/comments/issues that I wanted to cover in the meeting. I sent it off to the team. I may have over done it. I immediately got feedback stating that I had come up with quite an extensive list and that they would address what they could. There was more to the message, but I want to stay more on the positive side of things. I’m learning that when I focus on the positive I create more positive and unfortunately vice-versa. After I recieved the email I sat down with my list and refined it, I added a couple more questions/comments on my list to address at the meeting. Thursday I read a post not always from Jess at a diary of a mom. I cried as I read Jess’s words, and I KNEW that I had to read some of this post at our IEP meeting, it was perfect for our situation since it mirrors how we are feeling in regards to Chase.
Thursday night I sat down with Chase to work on his ever growing homework pile. He had two leveled readers and three math worksheets to complete. I knew I would only get about 15 minutes out of him. Watching him struggle at frustration level reading(he no longer could decode, analyze or evaluate the text) I came away with more questions that I knew needed to be addressed. Scott and I talked about his IEP goals and I had to write down word for word what he said because I felt it was so brilliant:
An IEP is nothing more than a set of goals. We are focusing at home of making our goals specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time bound. We would like his IEP to reflect this, and we would like to see the data that supports it. His IEP mentions observation charts. Who is doing the observations? Who is keeping track of the data? How is the data gathered. What is it measured against? If I were to use the observation chart is the captured data repeatable. Does the review of the data give consistent results and would it be translatable across the table. What is the baseline and where has Chase been in relation to that baseline at different periods of time since the beginning of the school year?
I walked into the meeting armed with 8 pages of STUFF that I wanted to talk about. Maybe I should have let the Special Education teacher drive the meeting, but I kind of hijacked the meeting from the very start. (Later when I talked to Scott he let me know that I made the right decision to hijack the meeting, otherwise we would have left feeling frustrated once again). The principal and a few others mentioned that they had thought the purpose of the meeting was to just revise Chase’s minutes and that they had appointments forty-five minutes from the start of our meeting. I knew that 30 minutes wasn’t sufficient.
I sat down at the table with my 8 pages in front of me and just started to talk. I shook inside. I wanted to cry, because I felt like they felt harassed by me. This is a huge distorted thinking issue that I have – I jump to conclusions,on a regular basis and this can cause big issues because here I was concluding that everyone was reacting negatively towards my 8 pages. Maybe they were, but who knows. I’m not a mind reader – right?
While the attendance sheet made it’s way around the room I read.
First off, I wanted to thank you all for the time and energy that you put into ChaseP He loves you all.
This was met with laughs and nods of agreement. I had the questions organized in terms of academics, language and social skills, and finally Sensory Integration. Mrs. S appreciated this as she had to get back to her classroom. We found out that Chase is at a “level 4” independent reading level. Looking on the charts that means that he is reading where typical first graders start at the beginning of the school year. But do you know what? At the beginning of the school year he was still at an emmergent reading level. HE HAS IMPROVED, he is moving forward at HIS pace, and I couldn’t be happier.
We were met with a stone wall when I asked for a copy of his last testing results and DRA testing results. Because they are district/state wide they didn’t want to give us a copy of the test. I told them, repeatedly that I just wanted the data, the results. I didn’t want the questions. JUST THE DATA. I finally looked at the principal and told her “I don’t need a copy of the test, I need someone to extrapolate the data and give it to me so that I may create a home curriculum for him.” We were finally able to move forward.
Interestingly enough, as I asked one question to a teacher she would end up answering the next ten questions on my list. The meeting lasted an hour and a half. More than the 30 minutes the principal had allotted for us, but I got across my concerns in behalf of my son. We celebrated his strengths –
- he no longer meets the expressive/receptive language disorder requirements to receive language services.
- He excels at phonics.
- He is an affable, lovable boy that is loved by all.
- Math is a strength.
We know what his needs are, and are on the way to making a plan to meet them:
- Have him read and write what he is interested in.
- All of his specials will be modified within the special ed setting.
- He will be in the mainstream classroom for one hour to have recess, snack and smartboard time.
- He needs to build his core to strengthen his motor skills – both fine and gross.
His social skills and friendship understanding is at a preschool level.
While there is more to work on, what I wanted most was to make sure he was properly supported in the proper environment. I’m confident that while the mainstream teacher worries that he is falling behind, I know that he isn’t, not really. He is progressing on a daily basis, and for that Scott and I are excited.