What a wonderful time of the year. IEP season.
You heard me right, IEP season. Sure I've had my share of ones that I've left not feeling very satisfied, but generally I've been lucky to leave them feeling like we are on the right track.
I scheduled both of the boys IEPs back to back first thing this morning. Corbin's was a piece of cake. I loved hearing how well he is doing and enjoyed the imagery his teacher provided of him helping the other students with their math work. We're going to start recording him reading or talking so he can actually hear his pronunciation. He is still struggling a lot with his "R"s and a few other sounds. Yet, he is stubborn to the core and tells us that he is saying it right. Corbin will continue with his speech and OT sessions next fall but during the summer we'll be getting him speech with our favorite speech therapist and a couple hours of tutoring a week to maintain his reading level, which he's struggling a bit with.
Brian's IEP is another story. Corbin's took us about 1/2 an hour- Brian's took us almost two. Brian has such a large team that by the time everyone shares their experiences with Brian and their concerns we have spent an entire hour already. I won't drag my readers through the entire experience but I suppose the biggest news of the day is that we decided to let Brian repeat Kindergarten and to repeat it with his current teacher. I am so excited that she is wanting to do it again and that they had come up with this suggestion for him. I think another year of Kindergarten is going to be really boosting for his self-esteem as he will have more chances to feel successful as well as most importantly, giving him more time to learn the skills that he should have by now. First impressions of our new special ed teacher are really positive- she seemed very nice, she asked lots of questions about Brian and about what I wanted, and she has already put in an order with our district to pay for some more workshops centering around autism. And on the topic of Brian's ed-tech, well she turned to me and asked me what I wanted in our new one, after she heard me complain about our old one.
Disappointments of the day? The short ESY (Extended School Year) services that are being offered this year- a whole two weeks, two hours a day. Corbin got more than that in Title 1 summer school last year! Unfortunately, what I want, and what our school budget gives are definitely not always on the same page. Title 1 Summer school was completely cut from the program! Disappointment #2 would be the boys' father (participating via speakerphone) was very against keeping Brian back but yet, did not give a reason why. It's frustrating to me, and I try not to let it be. I just wish he would finally realize, almost a full four years after initial diagnosis, what Brian needs and what his whole future and education truly consists of. As I've told him in the past- I will always have hope for Brian's future, I will never give up that hope, but you must learn to also be aware of reality.
I feel like an old pro at IEPs by now and for those who are new to the field of being an advocate and parent in one my number one tip is to be prepared! Make a list of concerns, questions, and ideas before the meeting. Bring in examples of things that work for you at home (social stories, visual schedules). Bring in pictures of your child- so they see he is a beautiful, loving child- not just a statistic. Most of all, remember that yes they are the educators and hopefully they know a lot about this field- but you are the parent and YOU know the MOST about YOUR child.