Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Getting Through Another IEP

The IEP went quite well, actually. I was armed with data on Apraxia and likely comorbidity issues in education (phonological issues, dyslexia, dysgraphia...to name a few) , as well as the names and details of some tests which could be useful to determine his need and eligibility for services within the public school district.

His new and fabulous teacher, the principal, the new SLP, and I were all present.
We started with talking about Bubbles strengths. This is a typical component of IEP's in general, both in part to remind everyone of the child's strengths, and also to delay the inevitable delivery of something a parent may resist. The 'offer' of the school district for services is always the last thing to happen, right before the negotiations begin, that is.

Anyway, we all managed to have a peaceful and cohesive meeting. I didn't know how the principal would address this, and an IEP meeting can tell a parent a lot about a principal....so there was tension on my part leading up to this meeting. So much was at stake, having switched schools for the children this year and the unknown factor was high until I had some administrative proof.

I did remind the SLP at one point that Apraxia was not a developmental delay, because without treatment, it would not 'correct itself', nor would he simply one day 'catch up'. I was happy to hear the principal concur.

His K teacher talked about how he is so very young and we compared his abilities to his peers. We all agreed (principal included) that he should not really be in K this year, and anything he did this year (his first year of 2 years of K) was gravy, so there is no stressful performance emphasis on meeting K standards by the end of the year. The Independent Study program he is in (3 days classroom, 2 days home school) facilitates this better than we could ever have hoped. He is in a class with an 8:1 ratio. Better than private school. Another reason I really wanted this IEP to go well.

I asked about occupational therapy to work with his fine motor deficits. The boy can put together legos, but can't control a pencil well enough to write letters. The principal agreed to have him observed by the OT in the next few weeks. Wow. That was easy.

SLP suggested a 50% reduction in services, which I had been prepared to hear. I explained that, because he had such a rich history of speech therapy services, and because I was equipped to support his services with supplemental home program, I would agree to that reduction.

But then it got a little tense when the SLP pointed out that she had checked the 'individual' box as well as the 'group' box. Which is when I said that I was not at all prepared to agree to this aspect of the IEP, because we were already compromising the amount of time he had been receiving, and it would be too much of a change in meeting his needs. I felt strongly that being in a group would compromise the level of attention he needs and would be getting.

SLP suggested that Bubbles had received individual therapy in the years prior to K because the school didn't have anyone who could provide that therapy for him before age five. I suggested it was in fact, because the principal of that school district had acknowledged the severity of his diagnosis (moderate to severe apraxia) and had allotted him the recommended number of hours (3 per week) for a child that age with that disability. Which was, in fact, exactly why he is doing so well now.

The SLP even pointed out that he would need to show a delay to qualify for any change in services. Which is when I got a little pitbull. But I took a deep breath, dipped inside for some more reserve honey, and said, "But that's not what anyone at this school wants for Bubbles, is it?"

At this point the principal stepped in and said, "It sounds like Gwendomama is clear that Bubbles is not ready to transition into speech therapy in a group setting. I think that sounds fine. If you can ever fit him into an existing group then perhaps we can supplement his 1/2 hour per week with trying that out and we would then see if he can work well in a group. But right now he still needs the 1/2 hour of individual therapy."
I sighed heavily with relief and the SLP sputtered something about her full schedule, which pissed me off because hello? Bubbles' needs should not be compromised by her limited availability.

And that's the truth for any school district, remember that for me, will you?

I think I did pretty well, and I know Bubbles is going to do pretty well too!


Anne said...

I'm glad your IEP went alright and that he will continue to get indiviual speech therapy :)

Pamela said...

It's awesome that the principal was advocating for you and Bubbles. What a blessing!

Another Suburban Mom said...

I am glad that people were supportive of your sweet Bubbles.

Yay You!

Patricia said...

Nice going! No one will advocate for your child as well as you, but you did a heck of a job getting them to see your side and appealing to their consciousness and sense of group responsibility towards Bubbles's helping team. I love you, miss you!


NG said...

IEP meetings are difficult at best because the subject is one that's SO emotional and personal to parents and SO NOT to school employees, who deal with this stuff all the time & with numerous kids.

This post is such a perfect example of being a good advocate for your child. You came prepared, dealt with the ID Team as professionals, didn't back down from what you wanted and supported your position with facts they can't dispute. (by the way, I want to slap that SLP and I don't even know Bubbles) Good for you.

Anonymous said...

I just found that you are back. I don't know you except through your blog. I was a regular reader and was worried when you left. Good to have you back!! And way to go advocating for Bubbles! You are an awesome mom!


Denise said...

Hey Gwedolyn,
I am an old pro at these I'E'P'S, and sometimes you do have to act like a pit bull. I agree with Patricia, and have always said that YOu and only You are the best advocate for your child.

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