Soooo, I was organizing my files, and realized that we’ve been dealing with IEP’s for FIVE YEARS! Holy frickin’ moly! In February of 2007, Jake’s daycare teacher and director approached me about looking into preschool screening for him. They felt his speech was behind his like-age peers and he could benefit from an evaluation through the school district. Considering that, at times, Hubz and I were certain he was speaking Swahili, I called the number and got Jake an appointment.
We arrived at the school where the screenings were being handled in plenty of time. They had me turn in my forms that had been mailed prior to the appointment, and then they took Jake back to be screened. I waited ever so patiently in the “holding cell”…it was a small little room with a tiny window that was up high. I got so claustrophobic in there…and of course, I was concerned.
Jake bounded up to me when his screening was over. The district rep handed me a sheet of paper that essentially said that he was okay with gross/fine motor, was average with social skills, but that his speech was in the borderline range…I asked what that meant, and they said it could go either way. They told me they’d be in touch. So, we were on our way, thinking all was right with the world. HA! Gullible me…
Winter turned to spring, spring turned to summer, and summer started to turn to fall. We didn’t receive any calls, so I figured it was kind of like, “No news is good news…” Ahhh, the early denial…sometimes I beat myself up about it, but you know, it was a process..getting from there to here. I have to forgive myself that. In so many cases, that IS what happens. The kid ends up being average, “typical”. Not so in our case, but in many others, it is….
In late September of 20o7, a speech pathologist from our home school called me at work. She said she had come across Jake’s file, and that she wanted to see why we had never pursued speech therapy, asking if we were going “private”. I was baffled. I told her that we were told that he was borderline, and since then, he had gotten a little better. She asked if I could bring him in for a quick evaluation. I figured we had nothing to lose, so we scheduled the appointment in early October.
Early October came and went. Jake got evaluated. I got a call from the SLP…yeah, he was more than 30% delayed, so he qualified for speech services. We set up a date for the IEP meeting. I went alone, and we hashed out his goals, all of which seemed fine to me. Of course, I had absolutely no idea what I was looking at or reading at the time, but she made it sound good, and he was just barely over that 30%, so I figured he’d be in speech for about a year and then he’d be good. Double HA!
Jake’s initial IEP went into effect in mid-October 2007. Many of his goals were pronunciation and annunciation goals. He had to slow down. Take his time. Get the entire word out. He also had Wh- question goals. How did I miss that?! But, when I started to think about it, he did seem to have quite a bit of trouble answering questions. He started itinerant speech services at our home school, 2 times, 30 minutes each, a week. Hubz and I took turns taking him. He was making progress, and seemed to be doing ok. Little did we know that was just scratching, oh so very lightly, the surface of what would become our relationship with special education services through our district.
Five years ago I had very little understanding of what an IEP was, what it did, how progress was measured, how it was going to affect our children’s lives. Today, I think I could give a college course on IEP’s and what they SHOULD do and what many DON’T do…but back then?? I was lucky that I knew enough to sign at the dotted line. As confused as we were back then, at least Hubz and I knew enough to know that something wasn’t quite up to par…and we took action. Our son(s) deserve nothing less….
Editor’s Note: Tomorrow is Jake’s IEP meeting. We got our draft last week, and it was confusing. I have marked that thing up with highlighter and notes like I’m going to be given a midterm on it. Wish us luck. We’re hoping for a change in eligibility and a few more accommodations to help Jake succeed in school. I hope and pray this goes smoothly.