IEP – Not Gibberish

Today we had a meeting with school district officials to draft an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for Martin’s next year. Martin got his first IEP in December 2007. That meeting involved reports that showed my kid at least one, if not two standard deviations below other children in verbal development and other developmental measures. One learning goal in the plan was that Martin would answer yes or no questions fifty percent of the time with a verbal prompt. That means that we were hoping for Martin to answer such a simple question, with some assistance, only half the time. I cried through most of that meeting.

Martin’s new IEP includes goals of following game rules when playing with other children, increased proficiency with asking questions, and continued effort to help Martin process language without the aid of visual or verbal cues. It also projects his inclusion, for at least part of the day, in a typical first-grade classroom.
While Martin’s new plan was exciting, the best part of the meeting was hearing from Martin’s Occupational Therapist. Miss Sandy works with all the students in Martin’s class. She was also Martin’s OT when he was in a special needs preschool in 2007-2008. Until Martin started in the autism classroom this past January, Miss Sandy had not seen him since he left the preschool program in May 2008. During today’s meeting, she talked about her shock at meeting Martin again. “When I had him last time, he could only say ‘Hello, Miss Sandy.’ Everything else was basically gibberish. He communicated what he wanted though gestures and gibberish. That’s it. I can’t believe how well he is talking.”
The art teacher sat through Miss Sandy’s account of Martin’s history and looked totally shocked. She had been working with Martin only this past semester. She looked at us and said, “Of course I know that Martin is autistic, but I would never have guessed that he had such severe struggles with verbal development.”
I used to wonder if my kid would ever, ever talk. I contemplated a life with him that included no conversations. Today’s meeting is not the only proof that things have changed. Tonight, Martin looked over at his sister – who was finishing up an evening snack – and asked, “Sasha, how was your bowl of ice cream?” That’s not gibberish.

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Jen Graber
I blog because having a special needs child can be lonely. People don't want to pry. They focus on the positives. In this way, people are nice. But life with Martin includes very difficult moments. And I'm a little tired of keeping them within the family.
Jen Graber

Jen Graber

I blog because having a special needs child can be lonely. People don't want to pry. They focus on the positives. In this way, people are nice. But life with Martin includes very difficult moments. And I'm a little tired of keeping them within the family.

7 thoughts on “IEP – Not Gibberish

  • June 12, 2010 at 6:23 pm
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    I have had a good deal of experience doing speech-language therapy with children on the spectrum, and so I can understand how amazing it must feel for you to hear him talking with such fine language!  That’s *definitely* not gibberish! 

    It is SO rewarding to help these children make progress with their language development, as well as social/pragmatic skills.   From your description of his goals, they sound like something a speech pathologist would write.  I hope your son continues to grow in his language!  🙂 

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  • June 11, 2010 at 7:09 pm
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    That is so great how much he improved!! I’m so ecstatic for him. From the short time I’ve known my boyfriend’s brother, who has autism, I’ve seen him improve so much.

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  • June 7, 2010 at 11:35 am
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    Thanks to making me inferior to everyone, I didn’t converse much for years, and I see how that hinders development.  Since I’m worthless, I often have to become abstract to convey things that someone is just not getting because I’m worthless, and I have to be truer than true.

    There’s an advantage in that I know a lot about people now that I wouldn’t know if I were ordinary in status, even though I didn’t go about it the same way as your son. 

    Sometimes, what hinders one thing will grow another.  Your son probably isn’t motivated in the same ways as everyone else, and in this age, that could definitely be an advantage. 

    As for speaking, yes, I did the same thing, and I’m normal in that way, even though I’ve had less interaction.  I didn’t say “mama” or “dada.” I was later to talk, but not late, no.  Delays are normal even in ordinary children. 

     I would ask for a cookie or notice a property of something.  My first word was the phrase “pretty purple” then I said “pick me up” and “I want a cookie.”  I had ear infections, so I didn’t hear as clearly and was cautious.  Your child might know he has a problem, and he might be cautious or doubt that he can speak or not used to speaking in a normal fashion. 

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  • June 7, 2010 at 11:01 am
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    <@SAHMomma – I completely understand.  My Dad just saw my son for the first time in a few months.  He went on and on at the amount of progress.

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  • June 7, 2010 at 11:00 am
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    This reminds me that sometimes we’re a bit too close to the wall to see what’s written on it.
    It’s good to get a different perspective, as it can be encouraging at times.

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  • June 7, 2010 at 10:34 am
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    Isn’t it the best feeling ever to run into someone who hasn’t seen your child in a while and watch their amazement of how far your child has come since last seeing them?  You need these people to remind you that progress is being made….even though you know it, it is hard to remember when your kid is under the microscope.

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