Monday, October 20, 2008

Pre-IEP Trauma

So, the school psych (who has never met my child in person, ever) and the principal (also superintendent) sent me to observe a preschool which they thought perhaps, may be perfect for my son. Perfect, why?
Perfect because this is (apparently) a preschool for children with communication disorders. I wasn't fooling myself, I knew what realm of behaviors that could imply. But I was hoping it really could offer more than something I had ever seen. It would have to be that good, because I love the preschool Bubbles has been attending since September, and his language has improved impressively in that time.
The school I visited might be an appropriate school for children on the spectrum. With communication issues, such as: using your body to hurl at someone instead of your words to ask for a turn. Not so much on the language issues.
I spent two hours there, and it seems to me that the teachers needed to spend an inordinate amount of time deflecting aggressive behaviors between the students, which leads me to believe that very little teaching can happen. I also did not observe any positive re-enforcers for positive language skills, and this would be a drastic transition for my little guy.
I do believe that this would be great place for my child to learn unacceptable behaviors more than appropriate articulation, which is why I do not wish to send him there. To remove him from his inclusive preschool environment in which he is successful and has attentive teachers, to put him into a special education classroom would not be a step forward.
However, when I stepped into the parking lot of the preschool to discuss this issue with the resource teacher from our school who had joined me on the site visit, she told me a little story of some previous student of hers whose parents would just not listen to the words 'special day class' and the 'severe nature of his deficits', and suggested that I 'sleep on it'. 'It', presumably being, the experience.
So after I 'slept on it' I woke up with swollen eyes from crying all night and feeling REALLY PISSED OFF ABOUT EVERYTHING. And, I had a wedding to attend. With very puffy eyes. Which made everyone else jealous, because they thought I was baked. (The wedding was in Berkeley.) But then the wedding was so damn touching that my puffy eyes looked right in place pretty soon.

ANYway, there is much more to this, of course.
But I have been rather emotionally pre-occupied, and a teensy bit sad, and feeling very alone in this struggle.



Lunasea said...

Oh, I'm so sorry you feel so alone. Anytime, babe. Anytime. And I'll even try to remember where I put my cell phone for you.

Was she implying that the nature of Bubbles' deficit is severe? Dude, I am so not an expert, but I thought (from the little that I saw and what you've mentioned) that he actually communicates rather well, and just needs his language skills to catch up.

DadaMama said...

Oooh, that is maddening.

I say, stick to your guns, school superintendents by damned.

wrongshoes said...

I'm convinced that most people (and the school system, generally) are unequipped to deal with children who do not fit the mold. They try to put on a facade of knowing what they're talking about, but really they don't (that is my impression). I hope you prove me wrong and find the support you need, and I'm sorry you feel so alone in the meantime.

Tricia said...

I feel your pain.

YOU absolutely have rights. Do not sign an IEP that you don't agree with. All parties must agree. If there are compelling reasons why you think he should go to one school over another- write them down. Ask more of his teachers what their opinion is... Being married to a teacher, sometimes they are afraid to really lay it on the line for fear of hurting parent's feelings, or knowing they will be met with opposition.
I often tell my kids teachers to please not use teacher talk- I want to know straight up- I am also frank about my kids behaviors, abilities etc.
Why does that other teacher think this preschool might be better for him- really why? Talk with her again. Look at pros and cons.
Kids can behave so differently for their teachers ...

Tricia said...

That sounds like I think the teachers right- I don't. I have no clue what is right for your boy.

gwendomama said...

Thanks for the kind words, everyone.
Tricia --
I think I may not have been clear about the teacher - she is the elementary school's resource teacher, NOT the preschool teacher. His preschool teachers believe he should stay there and that he is fine there!
She may think it is better for him because she only read paperwork about him and also believed that a school for 'communication disorders' automatically included his specific language disorder, apraxia.
She may also believe it is better for him because it would be WAY cheaper for the school district than the 1:1 speech hours I am requesting!

Squid said...

You are not alone, please come to see me, please come to SEPTAR meetings with their free childcare, please come to our parent support groups, (next two points might be old news, apologies), please try to see Patty Hamaguchi in Cupertino who is supposed to be the local apraxia expert (, please hook up with the families in the local Apraxia Support network (, and please know that you know your kids better than anyone.

I know parents in denial. You are not in denial. You are clear-headed and well-informed and an ass-kicking advocate. If Bubbles is thriving, leave him where he is and get external therapies/support.


RuthWells said...

Why in hell are they talking about moving Bubbles if he's doing so well where he is?! Trust your instincts -- *you* know your child best and you know what will work for him and what won't. My 10-year old has had a TEAM of specialists following him for over 3 years, and it was a small suggestion that I made at his IEP meeting 3 weeks ago that has made the most difference in his behaviors.

Hang tough.

Mama Deb said...

Want to come over after music tomorrow and get puffy-eyed together?

Jerri Ann said...

I didn't read the other responses but my first thought from someone who was a teacher before I was a parent and a parent before I owned a preschool......don't let anyone convince you to do something against your instincts....99.9 % of mommy instincts are spot-on!

Cindy said...

But he's not going there because he's got YOU, and you know it's not right for him. I just can't believe anyone who met him would recommend this.

Yeah, we were all puffy eyed, weren't we. The baked part didn't come til later.

For the Long Haul said...

I feel for you. My son has speech delays as well and my partner is completely clueless as to how to help. I am not saying that is your issue, but the feeling alone part of raising a child with ANY sort of a "difference" is tough on all moms.

I had also been recommended to a "special school" for my son and found a very similar environment. I went with my gut and kept him in the Montessori Preschool that he had been in and I don't regret that decision for one minute. You are his mom and his advocate and your gut is telling you what needs to be done. Screw all the other people and their opinions. Do what you know is right for your boy. You won't regret it.

Sending you big hugs nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

Fuck NO!!! You are your childs best advocate. But then you already knew that. You are not alone. I love ya babe. I guess I need to call you, and lend my support. teachers, contrary to what people think do not always know what is best. Chin up!

Ben and Bennie said...

What Denise said...and many others. Don't let anyone EVER put your child in a place unacceptable to you. If your son is doing well now then leave him be.

We've been through the same thing with Ben. Ultimately I have attended every IEP meeting he's had and will not sign off on anything unless I agree 100%.

InTheFastLane said...

So, why do they think he needs to be in a different school? If he is doing well in the one he is in, that is where he should stay. If the school he is in is willing to work with you and with him and say that is WAY better than putting him in an environment with children with behavior issues.

Headless Mom said...

Sorry it took me 2 days to get here...sounds like you've gotten some good advice already. I'm sorry that you feel alone in this-it seems to me that all parties should have his best interests at heart.

I'm praying for your strength today, clarity, and for the best learning environment for your sweet boy.


The Redheaded Lefty said...

Nothing good comes from people who've accepted the institutionalized approach to learning. As a mother, you know best what your son does and does not need. You absolutely do not have to "sleep" on anything. If it feels wrong, it probably is. Tell that hussy to shove it! My daughter is in a Montessori preschool---a very simple, follow-the-child's lead approach to learning, and I have never been happier. Good luck!

SongMom said...

When I hit this issue (without all the knowledge about the help I could have been getting from the system) I pulled my child and brought him to the most fabulous childcare/play school I could imagine. Oh that's right. You know, because you were that fabulous teacher! I am so glad that I was able to bring Kyle to you after the experience we had at the preschool. Thank you for being there for him. I'm glad that the preschool wants him and loves him and thinks he should stay.


Lin said...

xxoxoxox Stay strong, sweetie and don't ever forget to continue listening to your inner voice. Bubbles will be fine. He's a quite perfect little guy who will communicate in his own good time.

xoxo L

Debbie said...

Just dropping by to tell you that Laurie Edison and I gave you a little blog award, because we could. We mean every word.