19 February 2009

Super Duper IEP Meeting.

Goals on G's upcoming IEP include less arguing with the teacher and more help with completing assignments. He still gets speech therapy, but he has (finally!) gotten to the point where he no longer searches for words and has to tell you that he put the milk in "that thing that has a door on it and makes things cold." His speech therapy will be in "social skills" groups and he gets no more one-on-one therapy because he doesn't need it. Great! Wouldn't it be nice if we could just schedule *no* extra help because G functions so well? Ah, but the school isn't able to quite do that just yet. :p


I can't imagine the school doing any MORE for G than it is already doing. He has the ability in many of his classes to take a two-minute break in the halls at any time and has a special pass. He gets squishy balls. He gets a "scribe" during tests (yep, kind of like his own personal secretary). They're going to make it as easy as possible for G to succeed in school with other kids. Even then, it isn't too easy. Even then, G is going to struggle. I know when it's time to talk about "transition" and moving out into the real world that his employer is not going to be ok with G taking two-minute breaks any time he feels like it, being argumentative and not finding any of his assignments or working well in groups.


But cross that bridge when we come to it. It looks like the teachers are really wanting to work with him, and considering his sassy behaviour sometimes, that's really forgiving on their part. We have asked one of his teachers and the beloved gym coach to show, and they did come to show support for G. I was very honoured that there was such a genuine atmosphere of caring for G.


G's case manager even asked if there were anything I wanted. I felt like Solomon, getting that "Ok, ask me anything and I'll grant it," message from God.


What did I ask for?


I asked that the school please help G realize that he is autistic. That it is not going away. That he isn't like the other children. Better to ask for help right off the bat and explain the situation than to let it become obvious that something is "wrong" with him later on. G has said in the past that he doesn't like that idea because he just wants to be like everybody else.

Sorry. He isn't like everybody else. I've had to squash a few of his dreams here and there in that regard because he *won't* be able to handle some of the things he'd like. Questionable cases? We've let him try all kinds of things when we weren't sure how it would work out. When we're sure it would be disaster, we step in. Again, I'm sorry. I didn't cause his autism (um, that I know of), and all I can do is make this the best situation possible. And unless God makes him able to handle certain things (like unexpected difficult demands or "unfairness") very soon, he's going to spend the rest of his educational career in special ed. He's going to have a job in which he does NOT interact with the customer. Ever. He may even need some special assistance to keep a job or need some sort of help forever. That's just the way it is.

Sorry again. But it isn't changing.

So, one of his goals is to learn to advocate for himself using some of these disability words. I'd like to see him use statements like, "I need to take a break right now because I am starting to feel overwhelmed."

There was a lot of brainstorming at this meeting. I was truly impressed to see the team pull together and come up with some really great ideas. They even figured out that G needs to alternate classes with "movement" (like drama) with classes like mathematics, and that there needs to be some sort of movement class after lunch.

G was running about during the meeting and just being himself, which I just kind of chalk up to him being a bit obnoxious sometimes. "Tactile seeking," the consultant they had come in to help out noticed. See how he's touching everything and bouncing off the walls?

Ok, and here I thought it was my lack of discipline. I keep wondering why my best efforts never work. DUH, I need to accept G's autism as well. This is a lifelong process, should God not wish to expand his abilities. Maybe I need some help advocating as well. :]


These last few years, G has had wonderful instructors and extremely talented staff. How could this be the same district that allowed Elf to be locked in a closet?? Do they just send all their crummy staff to X school, or is the training and environment just really bad there? Not that there is any excuse for that. But so much depends on the teacher.

So what makes this group of people so different? So accepting of G's diagnosis and difficulties? Because I want more of that in my life, and I want more of that for the other children at the elementary school Elf no longer attends. :]

Hey, I'm not very generous with the compliments, so take this as a very big one to the staff at Cityname Junior High. I'm astoundingly happily impressed. The cynic in me says I'd better start knocking some entire trees, but I've been very happy with these folks.

9 comments:

  1. Interesting post. I've been on the other side of IEPs, trying to help parents and the special ed teachers. I rarely know what goes on at home or what the parents are going through because generally they don't talk about it.

    In my building, I've noticed that when things aren't happening the way they're supposed to happen, it's due to decisions made outside of the building at the district or county ISD level.

    A couple years ago, some of our staff members had to help parents fight the district in order to get the services they were promised. These promises were made so that these parents would place their children in our district. In Michigan we get extra money for special needs students. Of course, it's supposed to go to servicing the students.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Helping Marissa learn to advocate for herself has been very difficult. She told me just today (after reading my blog in which I said she tries to pass as normal) that I am the only one who thinks she isn't normal. Yeah, well... if they hang around you long enough they will figure it out.

    Sorry. Your brain isn't changing.

    That being said, I have had much more luck with teaching Marissa to tell people what she needs. "I can't concentrate with the scratching of pencils on paper. I can't make it background noise" is much easier to admit to than, "My mom drank alcohol when she was pregnant with me. The alcohol went to my brain and so my brain doesn't work normal."

    And, maturity helps. Oh, and letting her do the things I am pretty sure she can't do and allowing her to face her consequences is pretty good too. That is just so totally painful!

    I have given her a card to carry in her wallet to help her disclose to authorities if she gets in trouble. It has my name on it. She has to remember to give them the card.

    ReplyDelete
  3. So glad G has a good team!

    And how very Egyptian with his own scribe, too.

    Allison

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am glad you had a positive experience. My youngest in early childhood with autism has a great team.... but you know the story behind my other son in elementary school in the same district. I apologize if there are typos here... the text box is messed up in blogger so I can't see what I am typing!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Harry, it just seems to me that the staff is either going to wear the black cap and snicker or be the good guy LOL! Maybe they put the "in-between" people at a different school entirely. :p

    Julie, people figure out with G pretty quick as well, but I'm trying to get him to use the right words so that people don't think that he's just trying to be difficult.

    A, I forgot to ask for the "Egyptian dance" to be done during test taking. Doggone it. :]

    Ange, it's very difficult to send your kid off to public school after something like this happens. I completely, totally, absolutely understand. I'd way prefer to homeschool now, but G is in a good place at present and functions well.

    As you know though, it just takes one staff member to make life hell, or turn things around for good.

    And GOD BLESS YOU for all the work you are doing. I hope you know you have people praying for you. :]

    ReplyDelete
  6. Just putting out a hurrah for caring capable educators wherever we find them, either in our own homes with ourselves being the educator..or in school settings where we must heap praise on the many talented caring teachers there are out there..and there really are some! I know some of them pesonally. I'm glad your family has been blessed to find this situation for your son.

    ReplyDelete
  7. You have the awesome luck of having found a wonderful team for him! What the rest of the world wouldn't do for that!....:)

    ReplyDelete
  8. That's fantastic news! I'm a big fan of 'case meetings' which involve all concerned. And I think it's great that G was involved in the process. Too often, 'professionals' get carried away and forget there is a person at the centre of the 'problem'! You must be feeling really positive.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Yes, Betty, I'm usually incredibly sarcastic and snarky in regards to public school. We've had some doozie bad experiences, but I'm just *astounded* at how dedicated and kind these people are. I keep wondering if each building hires its own staff and why we had such very, very different experiences in the elementary.

    DMV I really, REALLY hope I never came off as smug. I know it just takes one staff change to throw the whole balance off! :] Grateful for the blessing while we have it.

    Tracey, G *tried* to be involved, but much of the time he was not too very much. We would have to ask questions to see what he thought about something even when it should have been obvious to him to SAY SOMETHING (sigh... advocacy training needed) or one thing I thought interesting is that the vice-principal sent him on errands with bunches of books to say "hi" to so and so at the library and then come back. They tell me the weight of the books he carries and the short trip walking and moving help him refocus when he comes back. :] I have to wonder how they figured that out.

    ReplyDelete

Non-troll comments always welcome! :)