Well, as anyone who has a child with an IEP knows, IEP Season is never over, but our annual meetings have been held and are in the record books. Shew. That bluster of air? That’s not wind..that’s Hubz and me exhaling. This year our IEP meetings went fairly well. There was give and take, discussion, and some really, really good plans put into place for each of our boys. I had updated on Jake’s IEP meeting here.
Last Thursday we had Tate’s meeting. We had received his draft the week prior, which is awesome. I need to check the laws to see if this is now standard in our state, or if it’s just a new district-wide thing…whatever it is, I love not having to beg for a draft prior to the meeting. I like having some grasp of what they are trying to implement for the next 12 months, and I like to feel intelligent and able to ask pertinent and pointed questions without scrambling. It definitely helps me feel calmer about the whole process.
I was a bit annoyed, not with the school, but with our ABA director. Back in the summer she had asked to be a part of Tate’s IEP meeting. I had let her know the first week of September that his teacher wanted to schedule for October 11th. I never heard a word. I spoke to the coordinator about it in mid-September when they all met (sans director) to discuss Tate’s ABA programs. She sent 3 emails and a few texts. Nothing. I sent another email 2 weeks prior to the meeting. And another a week prior. I left a message. The therapists left messages. His teacher called her, and she wouldn’t talk until she saw a release from me. (I had one on file with the ABA director, too…so I don’t know why she made the teacher fax one in..but whatever.) They talked briefly, and the director decided that she didn’t need to attend, but she wanted to see the draft of the IEP. The day before the meeting. I scrambled. I got it to her. She sent her comments. It was a lot of rigamarole, but we got it done.
Back to the meeting….Hubz and I showed up, with the draft and our and the ABA director’s notes. We had our “Binder of Power” with us…it has our boys’ neuropsych reports, prior IEP’s, notes, assessments, and most recent report cards. Tate has a whole section on ABA programs, too. It’s big. And red. And screams “Don’t mess with Us, we know our shtuff.”
We did the greeting and introductions. Then we dove right into the nitty gritty. Everyone did their PLOF. I can’t argue with anything they said…except that in the social/emotional area, there was some sentence in there about how “Tate does not get along well with neighborhood peers.” WTH?! He gets along ok…more often than not he’s on the periphery, but he isn’t antagonistic or nasty. I asked to have it removed, and they agreed. I know that this section is necessary, because it establishes where Tate is at with all of the various areas, but still, it absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt stinks. I really dislike reading about what he can’t do. However, I do like that each of the therapists and the teachers included a few of the things that Tate CAN do…it is nice to hear the positives. It helps soften the blow with the deficiencies.
I’m not going to bore you with a play-by-play of his goals and objectives. That would be about as tortuous as it was to sit in the meeting. However, I will say that Hubz and I asked for a few peer-interaction goals, seeing as that Tate’s greatest area of weakness is socializing with peers. The social worker was more than willing to add peer goals, and the district behavior specialist, who sat in on the meeting, gave some terrific suggestions for implementing peer socialization with some of the other classroom goals. This year, Tate’s team is going to try to help him improve his handwriting (trust me, it is abysmal), strengthen his visual coordination, regulate himself with strategies taught by the occupational therapist and social worker, and strengthen his academic skills in the areas of reading, writing, and arithmetic. (For the old folks out there, the “Three R’s”.)
I mentioned the behavior specialist. She attended the meeting because while we were there, we did a domain for a Functional Behavior Analysis. Per discussions we have already had with his team, Tate would benefit greatly at school from an analysis of his environment and his behavior in that environment. Then, the teachers, therapists, and behavior specialist can formulate a Behavior Improvement Plan to help him function more successfully in school. I know I have talked about this before…but we made it official on Thursday. The district now has 60 days to complete the FBA and formulate the BIP. We will meet again to discuss once it is ready. In the meantime, his special ed teacher and the therapists have had some training with the behavior specialist to try to address the excessive scripting in the interim. They are having some minor success, so I guess that is a good start.
I am relieved that we are all on the same page. I am grateful for a team that is willing to work with us, and to help us understand why they put certain goals in place for Tate. I am confident that with this team, as well as his ABA team and us, he can progress and achieve these goals. As a parent, it was encouraging to watch the entire team, all seven of them, sit around and discuss, TOGETHER, how they could better help Tate succeed. It was amazing. They took ideas, brainstormed, hashed them out, defined them, made them measurable. It was fantastic. Truly, it was one of the most productive meetings we have been a part of since Tate started in special education three and a half years ago.
When we were done with our meeting, Hubz and I thanked everyone for their time and their energy and efforts. We know they are overloaded. We know they are being asked to do a lot with fewer resources. And we told them how much we love what they are doing for our son…and for our family. I told them that I was grateful for their willingness to change a few things in the IEP, and that I was sorry to create a little more work. The Special Education Coordinator said that it was not a problem…they want to help Tate, and if we need to change things, it is always ok to ask.
There you have it. We are in a pretty good place with solid plans ready for each of our boys. I have very open communication with their teams and teachers, and I think it is the most solid footing we have been on in regards to a school year, ever. I have great hopes for 2012-13.
And, yeah, IamsogladitsoverandIcantakeabreath…whew. For now. Until the next thing. But today, today I will relax, knowing that we are in a good place.