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For the past three years we have worked hard with the school district to create an IEP that I felt was appropriate for my son.  It always irked me that in his Present Level of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance they would put his Attention Deficit Disorder, Sensory Regulation Needs and Language, but consistently left out his diagnosis of PDD-NOS.  Each meeting we would bring the paperwork, remind them once again that he was on the spectrum and would need extra focus because of it.  Each time we would be met with, “He has that diagnosis?” or “Well, he doesn’t have an Academic Diagnosis of Autism”.  UMMMMMMM, there is no such thing as an Academic Diagnosis.  He doesn’t meet the Academic Criteria for Autism necessary to have related services.  I’ve been fighting them on that for three years, and maybe under the GARS3 it will happen.

Highlights from the new IEP:

  • He responds best to one on one or small group instruction.  (don’t all children?  It is too bad that all classrooms can’t be smaller)
  • He is very social and seeks interactions with others. (Although sometimes he seeks out interactions inappropriately)
  • He is now able to communicate his needs (huge success, when he started preschool at 3 he was not able to do that.  His communication was 2 word phrases, grunts, and screams.)
  • He understands directions given in the classroom and is able to execute those directions when he is willing to participate or willing to complete a task in the way that is suggested by the teacher.
  • He has met his receptive language goals, however he may need extra time to formulate his thoughts before he responds.
  • His tantrums are rare, he still will stomp his foot and say “no” but soon after he will say “okay”.
  • He has demonstrated progress with visual motor integration. He uses “Handwriting Without Tears” to address his self-regulation needs he has made a calming book, uses theraputty, deep breaths, stretches.

They changed several of his IEP Goals and Objectives. I am most excited to see an academic goal added so that they are not all behavioral, since I know that he also struggles with the academics.

  1. Increase self-regulation skills by indicating a need for a break.
  2. Language (Listening and Speaking Pragmatics) He will be able to describe the three parts of play (set, play, clean up) and then will regulate his behavioral reactions during the “Set up for play” to allow more time for all students to enjoy play for 20 minutes of a session. He will regulate his behavior reactions to increase the time for play (He really struggles with waiting his turn and losing.  He ALWAYS has to be first and will tantrum when he doesn’t win).
  3. Begin a task or be directed through completion of that task with no more then two verbal prompts.
  4. Increase his visual motor integration skills by using an appropriate tripod grasp, increase in performance on the dexteria application (What the heck is that by the way.  Never mind, found out it is an Apple App for Iphone/Ipad.  Too bad there isn’t an equivalent for android)  Demonstrate in-hand manipulation skills by independently sequence and complete 6/6 buttons on a shirt.
  5. He will improve his language arts skills by increasing his reading skills by decoding unknown grade level words using beginning, middle and ending sounds and or context clues at 70% accuracy.
  6. Improve his writing skills by writing a short story with complete sentences, and appropriate capitalization and punctuation with 70% accuracy.

I’m on the fence about these goals.  In my husbands words “they seem good.”  I guess what is most important is that Chase really dislikes working in large groups, and by pulling him out of the mainstream classroom he is getting the one on one and small group instruction that he thrives in.  I know there are those out there that might think that we are limiting our son, and maybe even keeping him back.  The fact of the matter is that we are listening to his needs.  I wholeheartedly believe that as we place our son in an environment that he feels comfortable he will make remarkable strides.  He has modified P.E., music, library, computers with smaller groups so that he is able to handle the sensory input.  He goes to art with his “other teacher” and all of his friends, as well as recess and about 15 minutes of SmartBoard time.  This is all he can handle without begging his aide to take him back to the smaller environment.

I’m proud of him for addressing his needs.  I’m proud to be his mother, to be sharing this journey with him.  It has been such a blessing, and such a learning process.