Thursday, December 3, 2009

Our First IEP!

IEP means Individual Education Plan. It's the school equivalent of an IFSP, Individual Family Service Plan, which is what the big fancy meetings are called when you're still in Early Intervention or a similar 0-3 program.
The quick run-down, followed by long story:
Kittyboy qualifies for NINETY minutes a week speech therapy, and monthly OT to follow progress. He will be in an Early Start classroom, which is the small size, 2.5 hours a day, kinda-the-whole-thing-is-group-therapy "special ed" preschool. Which is soooo funny to me, considering the stuff he knows, because you think of special education as meaning mentally handicapped. Bree asked him Monday what color a shape was, he was being extremely difficult and answering shapes for colors and colors for shapes, and so when she asked what the color was, he said, "Quatrefoil!" (which he says catafoyo, kinda) because that was the shape. Friday morning at my parents' house, he pointed at the clock and said, "Minute hand on-a da TEN!" Yes, the minute hand was on the ten.
So that's the short story.
It was really cool to listen to all the "experts" giving their reports, and jumping into each other's presentations with, "Then that's why I saw such-and-such!" and, "Okay, maybe THAT explains the disparity between his score for this and his score for that..." I've seen a t-shirt that says, "I reject your reality and subsitute my own!" and I think our son needs one that says, "I reject your developmental timeline and substitute my own!" He will learn what he wishes in the order he wishes, and if he wants to tell you all the numbers on the clock before learning to count sequentially, well, that's exactly what His Imperial Highness will do.
Everyone saw marked improvement, during his assessments, when he got sensory breaks in between things. I laughed when one lady described him as "oozing" out of his chair. That's why he went from high chair to plain booster to booster with straps and tray, because it's the only way to keep him in place. I just loved the oozing description! They're really picky on eye contact, at least I think so, they seem to expect a LOT of that, and who goes around staring everyone in the face all day? I don't... I also laughed, and then had to explain why, when one lady said that he really didn't want to stack the blocks, because all Ginny has to do to induce a rolling-on-floor TANTRUM is pull out blocks. He HATES stacking blocks when someone tells him to. He'll do it on his own rarely, once stacking them on a rotating toy (we have the pictures to prove it), but no way if it's not his idea. And the "need for transition object" comes up again if he's in a new place, because there was one toy he took with him from the first area to the second, another he took from the second to the third, and so on, and then he would pick up and put down that toy between activities, like touching base. And I explained about how he used to need something to leave the house with, that hasn't been as important lately at home but it makes sense that it would be in a brand new environment with strangers. He has, according to them, low muscle tone, which is strange when we think of him as Baby Samson, but I guess muscle tone and strength aren't the same thing. There are muscles that are strong, but there are others that are underdeveloped. When I think of low muscle tone as being a problem, I think of a kid I knew in SCOPE whose muscle tone was nonexistent. The way Kittyboy runs is a little rough and an "immature stride" - this kid walked the way mine runs, and was two years older. Now THAT is low muscle tone that's a problem. Of course there are muscles Kittyboy needs to work, trunk comes to mind, but as far as being a concern, it's not overly one of mine.
Kittyboy has learned VERY well how to self-accomadate (meaning stuff like grabbing a transition object when he needs it). Ironically that was a stumbling block in writing up his plan. If it's a need he can meet on his own - which it is - then it doesn't go in his plan. But what you just KNOW will happen, though, is that he would grab something from his immediate vicinity before leaving the classroom to go to the gym (self-accomodating, meeting his need) and the teacher would say no, and unpleasantness would ensue. So it HAD to be in there. So everyone had their laptops out rewriting their reports so that everything was worded Just So. Husband had already been through the hairsplitting with IEPs at Hope School, but I thought it was funny. Evidently that's the norm, is that they write their reports, we have the meeting, we decide based on those reports what he needs, and then reports get rewritten to reflect what we decided he needed based on those reports... Love it. Director and miscellaneous therapist going back and forth - "If transition object is going in, I need a report stating the need for it." "It's right here where I said 'used toy to transition between activities'." "But that doesn't label it a need." "No, he needed it, we all saw this, he had to pick up and put down that toy between every activity." "But that's not how it's stated." Clickety-clickety-clickety.
And, very important - his eligibility is NOT "concerns of possible autism" (which was actually on the table as an option!!!!) but "developmental delays". Another example of wording being key. I am perfectly willing to go with district services as long as he "requires" them, but we're not involving labels, and NOT putting anything on paper that can't be changed as he changes. Developmental delays says it all, and will be invalid when he's caught up, at which point the plan is still to homeschool.
And where was Kittyboy this whole 1.5 hour long meeting? He had an ADVENTURE. We dropped him off about an hour beforehand with Aunt Carey and Puppygirl. He played there, he had fun, Puppygirl read him books, and despite some whimpering when Carey added wood to their woodburning stove (still afraid of fire), he calmed down after some snuggling and said, "Warm! Pretty..." Then, he took a bus ride downtown with them, transferred to a different bus, rode to Puppygirl's gymnastics class, and even crossed a four-lane in the process. And Carey said he was a very good boy!

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Pres. Kathy said...

I am very familiar with IEP's. I used to be a teacher and I would be in these meetings all the time. Make sure you make your wishes knows and give lots of details. I remember a lot of parents explaining how they think their kids were and no one listening. Make sure everyone is on the same page.

Caeseria said...

I was very impressed that everyone DOES seem to be pretty much on the same page here, because I'd heard from other moms that it was really difficult to get EVERYTHING your child needs, and they actually thought of stuff we hadn't. I was surprised how helpful and enthusiastic everyone was.
One area in which I'm going to be antsy though - they are FAR more concerned than we are about autism. It's nice that he can get all this help for the problems he DOES have, but we've both seen autism, he's not it. He shows empathy, among other things, and that can be taught but we didn't teach him. If we do run into a conflict, that'll be it - is he or isn't he, we say no, they'd like to see him tested, etc.

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Illumination Learning said...

Your child sounds VERY MUCH like my youngest. He has Apraxia which is a neurological speech delay (translates to "takes a long time to correct, if ever"), low muscle tone, "oozes" out of his chair (I'm going to tell my husband that - he'll like that analogy), little eye contact, etc. Have you read "Out of Sync Child"? It's very good and addresses a lot of these issues.