Friday, March 30, 2012

IEP meeting next week

GL's IEP meeting is next week. Mama Bear won't be able to make it, so we need to discuss our concerns together, so I can make sure they're addressed. High school has been an overwhelmingly positive experience for him. Despite a major setback when his meds stopped working, he has adjusted rather well. I like this school's SpEd department's emphasis on independence, living skills, and functioning in the community skills. I will be focusing on getting him the services that were in his IEP this year that he never got. Things like PT and OT, which his insurance cut off because the school was supposed to provide them, which the school wrote into his IEP, but then never provided because he was on a limited school day because, well, because the school didn't want to deal with him.

He is now up to a full day two days a week, and three-fourths of a day each of the other three days. I plan to insist on a full day, five days a week for next year. He hasn't had any academic work at this school yet. From what I've seen, none of the SpEd kids get much academically unless they're mainstreamed part of the day; then they get whatever's offered in the classes they're mainstreamed for. The other SpEd kids only get one academic period per day, and it seems pretty lightweight, not to mention aiming for the middle of the class (there's only one SpEd class at this school) and missing most of them. The academic period is the one he's still missing. The two days he's there all day, he has gym that period.

I was not disappointed in the academic offerings for SpEd, mainly because my expectations were so low. There were three main reasons we home schooled him as long as we did:

1. Middle schoolers can be remarkably cruel to anyone who's different.

2. He was learning well at home. I didn't expect the school to teach him much of anything other than how to function in a classroom, which might help with his transition to employment. Whenever we talked with other special needs parents, they were spending more time fighting the school to get their kids' needs met than we were spending home schooling. We did not enroll him in public school until I felt he had learned all he was capable of learning. This came about the end of seventh grade.

3. Since transitions are difficult for him, I did not see the point of transitioning him to public school in eighth grade and then changing schools for high school the following year.

As for behavior management, although we spent hours detailing his behaviors, their antecedents, what works, and what doesn't, they seem to insist on learning by trial and error. It feels a little like when a stranger wants to give you advice about your spectrum kid because they saw Rain Man, but it's worse, because they really think they know more about your kid than you do, because they spent years in school getting book learning about the stereotypical textbook kid with autism. It's enough to make me want to send them this graphic, which I stole from Tom at  Adventures in Aspergers:

That said, I've had to be diplomatic in my approach. This is a small school in a small town. There is only one SpEd classroom and only one SpEd teacher. The PT, OT, and SDPE teacher are shared among the elementary, middle, and high school and, I think, several other schools in the district. When I pass GL's guidance counselor or the school psychologist, or the school social worker or any other of the thirteen people on his IEP team in the hallway, they recognize me, call me by name, and ask about him by name. If I alienate anyone, that's the person I have to go through to get that particular service. I can't replace anyone on his team without transferring him to a different school. At this point, his teacher and all the classroom aides like him and think he is doing an excellent job. He fits in reasonably well with his classmates. Enough mainstream students volunteer in his classroom that he can't walk down the hall, or even around town without meeting one or more of them, and they greet him by name and take an interest in what he is doing. He considers them his friends. Without exception, the staff and student body have been friendly and kind. So when GL isn't getting everything he needs, not even certain things that are in his IEP, I have to intervene, advocating for services, but in such a way that the other party thinks it was her idea.

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Blogger Kelly said...

Good gravy - adding small town politics to IEPs...wowza! Adds a whole different dimension. Your logic in your educational approach with GL is pretty impressive! I wish you great success at your upcoming meeting.

*fingers crossed!*

March 31, 2012 at 9:20 AM  

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