We had our annual IEP yesterday. We got the biggest compliment from the teacher and content coordinator – they said we were so calm during the meeting.
Of course I was nervous about the whole thing, but I will admit that by the time the meeting rolled around I was feeling at peace because I felt that I knew what to ask for. I think that is the hardest thing about planning R.’s education, I have no experience or even a point of reference.
But over the last couple of months I realized that I do know R. better than anyone and my instincts are usually correct. I’ve certainly always known and tried to act as though I was in charge. But I think with this whole kindergarten process I had to remind myself.
A few days prior to the meeting I emailed the teacher a list of our concerns, the goals we wanted to add or change and our thoughts about kindergarten transition and placement.
I know that some parents warn against doing this, because it can give the school department time to prepare their arguments. But in our case I think it only helped. The teacher shared the email with the rest of the team as I hoped she would. We were able to get the the process of the meeting faster because everyone knew what we wanted to talk about.
I also gave the teacher permission to prepare a draft IEP based on the email. This also helped the meeting move smoothly. She actually gave me all the goals we wanted, and in some cases used my exact wording.
This was the most positive meeting yet.
They said she can sit at a TEACCH station and do work for 15 minutes! This is the child who could barely sit down when she started preschool.
The ST finally acknowledged that she is using 1-2 words consistently to communicate and increased her goal to 3 word utterances.
They also said she is playing appropriately with many toys and does pretend play on her own. They added the goals I wanted about engaging with peers on the playground.
She can trace her name and letters and numbers, she is writing some letters on her own and can copy when the teacher writes on the board.
She is not putting her fingers in her ears as often. I made them all acknowledge that they are aware that if she has her fingers in her ears it does not mean lack of attention.
R. is participating more in circle time. Every day they sing “We all go traveling by.” The teacher has vehicle cut outs that she uses for choices. She asks R. do you want the yellow bus or red car? R. said pink bike! (which is one of the other choices)
They all said she is being mischievous. If they open the toy closet she will run over, knock some over and laugh. She will pick up the toys or whatever when they tell her to. I’m happy that they see this as a good sign developmentally and not a hassle.
They wrote this:
R. is intelligent and curious. She likes to seek out new way things work, and watches intently when you show her how something works.
Originally they did not plan to have a general ed teacher at our IEP meeting. The CA law says that a general ed teacher has to be at an IEP meeting if any aspect of being included in the general ed class is to be discussed. I wrote them, mentioning what I wanted to discuss, how a general ed teacher has been at all of her annual IEPs so far, and mentioning the law. I offered to change the date of the meeting, and offered my consent for the general ed teacher to only attend part of the meeting as long as the topic she needed to discuss was addressed.
So we had a general ed teacher at the meeting. Her time was limited so we discussed things out of order. I asked for R. to be included for a short time in the general ed preschool (at her school location).
I also planned to ask for mainstreaming in kindergarten, but they put off all discussion of services relating to kindergarten until the transition IEP in April. I suspected they might do this, but it was worth asking.
They were supportive of having R. go into the general ed preschool, and we had a good discussion about what would work best with scheduling and R. herself. They suggested during free time, so R. could go and be confident doing puzzles or playing with toys. She will have an aide with her. It seems like they are encouraging the aides to be as hands off as possible, if she is working on her own the aide will go help other students. I like that they are doing it this way, because R. could be interested in only interacting with the aide, and she can be prompt dependent.
I had to give permission for her to miss some of recess. She has a long recess and we are going to start with just ten minutes, so I think that will be fine.
We all agreed that the SI (Severely Impacted) classes were the best fit because of small class size, structure and ABA style teaching.
They said that we can change the class type at any IEP meeting. Even if we have a placement, we could change our minds in April. I’m sure it is more difficult than they make it out to be, but it is good to know that they don’t consider anything permanent.