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.