Friday, May 1, 2009

You don't often hear/read this..."I l <3 my IEP Team!"

Ok, If I got the emoticon right that should read "I heart my IEP Team!"

I just came from our IEP meeting for next year's preschool (last year of preschool too). It went fabulously. I had steeled myself for a run-in with the Adminstrative Personnel. Last year they steam rollered over me on several issues. I walked out of that meeting thinking that I was not a good advocate at all for Ellie. I felt rather deflated, and doubted my own abilities as her advocate.

That was then, this is Now. About a month ago, I spoke with Ellie's teacher about the idea of having an OT evaluation. The process is:
  1. have an OT observation
  2. get results in a meeting
  3. if results say eval is a good idea - agree in writing to eval
  4. have eval
  5. get results in a meeting
  6. if results say ot is a good idea then agree to it in writing
  7. then OT services begin.
This process can take MONTHS. MONTHS of not getting OT services. MONTHS of staying BEHIND. But, (heavs a big sigh) at least we are finally in this process. LAST YEAR, the OT observation results were presented to me in the IEP meeting. I was really thinking that Ellie would qualify for OT services. BOY WAS I MISTAKEN!!! So that was the first thing that blew my mind in last year's meeting.

This year, was so different. First of all, I received the OT observation report BEFORE the IEP meeting. Secondly, it RECOMMENDED OT Evaluation BEFORE the end of the 09 school year. Thirdly, the OT is rather certain that Ellie will qualify for services. I got the impression that she is going to chose the test which will show Ellie needs the services, as opposed to chosing a test where Ellie would score higher and maybe not qualify for services. We all know that "figures don't lie, but liars can figure." There's a lot of different tools for evaluating children, and where Ellie might score low on one test, she might score rather high on another. Also, she will be compared against "typical peers" in whatever test is used, as opposed to her same disabled peers. If Ellie were compared against other children her age with DS, she would score high. Very high. And probably not qualify. But against her typical peers - way low would the score be. (thanks yoda!) The OT wants to have the paperwork finished to approve OT services before the end of school this year - Holy Canoli! I love this lady!

This year's IEP was so different in another way. On the IEP (for all ages) there is a page documenting what diploma this person will be working towards. Last year they steam rollered me into an option I didn't agree with. But I finally decided that since it was Pre-K I could get over that, and deal with it next year. This year was different - they agreed (even the Administrative Rep) to checking Standard Diploma. PHEW!! I walked into the meeting prepared not to sign the IEP if they insisted on anything other than Standard Diploma. IT was the principle of hte matter. She is too young to write off. We don't know yet how far her skills and abilities will take her. I am NOT prepared to write her off before high school and say that she is not capable of earning a Standard Diploma. But thankfully the IEP team was COMPLETELY on the SAME PAGE about this. YEA!!!!!!! The ADministrative Rep told me another thing. I can keep insisiting on Standard Diploma until the Junior Year!

Another blow-my-mind moment came when the Speech Therapist recommended MORE services! Wow!!!! (surprised you didn't read this in the newspaper:"fainting mom has to be revived at meeting") I completely agreed with her, and requested, and recieved, some suggestions for home work as well.

I love this school, and these teachers and specialists. What a fantastic environment for kids with special needs. Unfortunately it is not our "home school" for elementary school. I do love our home school for Ellie's big brother (special needs on the other end - gifted). I hope it turns out to be a great place for Ellie when the time comes. I know that every year won't go as well as this one, but I am so thankful that this year I didn't have to fight. (putting away warrior mom till next year's IEP meeting - Kindergarten)

1 comment:

Neufer Photo said...

Congrats on getting the services your daughter needed, my daughter's name is also Ellie! I just went through this battle for my son though for the past year and a half and they FINALLY listened to me as well. Here is an open letter I wrote on the day he was put into a 1-6-1 class: http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=27648864

Congrats again and keep that fighter mom ready for when you really need her!