Getting Off to a Rough Start
Last Friday we had Bitty’s IEP meeting. Seems like we just had one (oh wait, we did), although that was just an IEP review to update his placement to one that would be more effective for him. We didn’t update any of his goals at the time.
So this was his regular IEP to update goals for the upcoming year.
I have always had mixed feelings about IEP meetings… on the one hand, it tends to be a bit of a reality check on where my kids are developmentally, relative to their peers. Since I don’t really have that much experience with children other than my own, it can be easy sometimes to get into the “this is our normal” groove and not really think about it that much until there it is, all spelled out.
The upside though, is that the IEP meeting also generally serves as an opportunity to see just how much progress they have made over the last year. For the most part my boys have always mastered at least most of the their goals by the time the IEP year has passed, and while we might carry over a few that they are still working on, the rest are either replaced with new ones or stretched / expanded to the next level.
We reviewed the measurements of how Bitty is doing on his current goals, and my heart sank a bit when I saw he was still struggling with most of them. I mean, I know he’s had a challenging year but I guess I wasn’t quite mentally prepared for that.
Then we started going through his goals for this year’s IEP. I actually felt tears welling up (and I don’t cry that easily) when I realized we’d been through several and the only change we’d made so far was to lower his reading level in order to (hopefully) help with his reading comprehension. He is hyperlexic (pretty much taught himself to read at an early age and reads beyond his grade level) but still struggles to answer even the most basic questions about what he’s read (who, what, where, why, when), even when given the opportunity to look in the book for the answers. He has a visual chart for the “W” questions that shows what kind of question is being asked, and that helps a little but it still takes a lot of prompting.
So that’s how it went. For the most part, his goals for 2nd grade will be the same as they were for 1st grade. The notable exception being his handwriting – he still has issues with pencil grip and hand strength but you really wouldn’t know it to see his handwriting, it’s quite good. We just need to keep working on it so that as he starts having to write more, his hand won’t get tired too fast.
The main reason for his difficulty on the rest of his goals still comes back to the language delays, which impacts pretty much everything. His speech / articulation has improved considerably, and his memory is pretty phenomenal so he can recite entire episodes of his favorite shows. He has a pretty good handle on the typical day-to-day interactions (through much practice, and still with a fair amount of effort). But anything new or out of the routine that requires language (receptive or expressive) is such a challenge for him. And educational learning, by definition, tends to be a lot of new information (with some review of course).
It’s really hard to see him struggle so much, but I’m so proud of him because no matter how hard it is, he keeps trying and with a positive attitude. Everyone who works with him comments on what a joy he is to be around (seriously they do, that’s not just me being biased!) :).
Next up (later this spring) will be the IEP’s for Cuddlebug and Bearhug. The ones that will transition them to middle school (ack!). I’m open to suggestions if there are things you think we should consider or make sure to include.
0 thoughts on “Getting Off to a Rough Start”
Thanks. Im gonna look this up right now!
@skdatf – school districts and educators are under the gun with budget cuts etc. I think most of them care, but they are put in the impossible position of having to decrease their spending at the expense of kids.
here is a link to Wrights Law a special ed law and advocacy organization. Lots of good info on their site
@Jonsmom01 – Sometimes I want to ask them hey what would you do if this was your child. Your so right they don’t care. oh well…. Can’t fix them!
@skdatf – do not be too hard on yourself. the IEP process is complicated and confusing and you would think these educators and professionals will do the best thing for your child and what they say is what they mean and what they will do. Unfortunately too often the words they say are only lip service and so unless it is in writing it means little or nothing. I had to learn all this too – mostly the hard way. We all do what we can and do more or do a better job as we learn. Glad to help just a little bit.
@Jonsmom01 – Actually a friend of mine just told me the same thing yesterday. Too get every thing in writing. I wish I had known or thought of that but I hadn’t. So I could kick myself. So I am definitely going to do that next time and maybe record it. My friend said I could. Thanks for your advice!
@skdatf – I hope you get some help from someone for the reeval fight. You need to document everything. Did they take meeting notes and did they include your request that he be held back and their response that said he would always be behind? This talking out of both sides of their mouth needs to stop and the way to do that is to make them document everything and or audio record your meetings. Also when you make a request like that make it as a formal request requiring written response with a Notice of Action. You probably are familiar with that type of doc but if they deny your request they have to document the reasons they deny it. When you make a request make sure you present the facts that substantiate your request. Make sure these facts get included in the meeting notes. Get help if you can – someone to go with you to the meetings that will watch for double speak and IEP process errors and give you support. Each state is suppose to have a federally (IDEA) mandated parent training and advocacy group, Find them and ask for their help. Good luck.
I know just how you feel! That sounds exactly the same way our last IEP was. Our son also struggles with handwriting. Which recently I heard was one of the top 10 basic skills now about to be obsolete due to electronics. So I personally don’t worry too much about that one. Our son however is not reading. He is probably at a Kinder Level and he is in 2nd grade. That I do worry about. I feel like the school does the minimum to help out in that department. At our last IEP I begged them to put my son back into 1st grade give him a chance to catch up. The diagnostician told me that my son would always be behind. Ok I know that . Then in the next sentence she told me it was time for his 3 year re evaluation and they were probably NOT going to put him under the Autism or Special Ed program….UHHH WHAT? Did she not see how crazy that sounded? So I got sarcastic and exuberantly began to thank God for this miracle recovery my son experienced… . And told them that I was now free to move him to any school I wanted. Oh no they stated..this would not be the best thing for my child. They insisted he stay here with all the wonderful help they could provide. I get so tired and exhausted dealing with them.
Today we went to the therapy place since the last 4 months my insurance wouldn’t cover. We met a new therapist who did not know our son or his diagnosis. She began by saying that he started off good then went down hill pretty fast and I told her well he has Aspergers and ADHD. She said well I saw that and the characteristics are so much like my nephew who has Aspergers but I didn’t want to tell you for fear you may not be in the place right now to hear it. I told her I have been dealing with this for years now you can say whatever you want. She showed me his test result which put him at a 4-5 year old comprehension level. He will turn 8 next month so I was saddened to see how low he scored. I really had gone in there with more optimism I was not expecting what I heard. Its like you mentioned you don’t cry often and you know how this roller coaster can be but I as you did felt sad, and felt like my world crashed in again.
So often I tell myself to be positive, be thankful.. my son is alive and healthy. Yet on the other hand do I ever get permission to be sad. SO because my son does not have a terminal illness that means that I cant feel sad, or want to cry. Maybe I need a little time to feel sorry for myself then just get over it. Thanks for your post. I feel better knowing Im not alone.