Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Spring Season

I love the Spring Season. Not quite as much as Summer, which will always first and foremost be my favorite  season ever. But I still love it. The warmer temps, the beautiful blooming flowers.


Both the kids have birthdays in the Spring. Jayce will be turning 5 next week and Jaina will be turning 8 next month.


But there is one thing I dislike about the Spring. April and May are not just months in the Spring season. They are also months in the IEP season.



IEP.

Bleh. There is nothing that makes my stomach tie up in knots as much as those three little letters.


For those who need a definition, an IEP is an acronym for Individualized Education Plan. It is exactly how it sounds. The school creates a plan full of goals for a child with a learning disability or in need of speech services. Sounds straight forward and easy right?


Well, it should be. And in many many school districts across the nation, it is. Unfortunately, its not in mine. IEPs are guarded very closely in this district and only given to children who have obvious developmental delays. Although eligibility requirements are standard across the state of South Carolina, our district is very selective in the testing that they choose to determine eligibility of a child.


Take my son, Jayce, for example. He has a medical diagnosis of autism, as classified by the DSM-IV, given by a developmental psychologist, a developmental pediatrician, and a genetics counselor.


And, in most schools, a medical diagnosis of a lifetime disability of autism would automatically ensure that a child can keep an IEP as long as he needs one. An IEP can include not only speech, motor skill, and academic goals, it can also include aids, supports, or accommodations that the child needs to succeed in a regular (least restrictive) classroom. But not in ours.


This morning at 10:30 AM EST, Jayce's IEP team and his team of private therapists will be sitting down to hash out his school placement for next Fall. The school has proposed to switch Jayce from a Special Needs preschool class into a regular Kindergarten classroom for the 2010-2011 school year.

This, I agree with.

They also propose that Jayce graduate from all speech services, occupational therapy services, and no longer have an IEP at all.

This is where I disagree.

I cannot deny (and would never wish to!) all the tremendous progress Jayce has made over the last two years in the school system. His transformation has been amazing! I'm so proud of him; he's worked so hard.

BUT... as much as it pains me to say this, he is not yet comparable to his typically developing peers. If you put him in a SN classroom full of kids with learning disabilities, Jayce shines above the crowd. You put him in a class full of typical kids and Jayce sticks out like a sore thumb. He's one of those high functioning children that tend to fall through the cracks at school. Sometimes they get labeled as "behavioral problems" and settle into a school year full of discipline conferences. Sometimes these kids succeed above and beyond academically, but are social outcasts and have trouble fitting in with their peers. And sometimes, these "quirky" kids turn out okay.

The thing is, I don't want to take any chances. I feel like if we can give Jayce the support he needs now, he'll need less and less of it year after year. I want him to continue his speech services for pragmatic issues (social speech). I want him to remain in OT for his handwriting difficulties. I want him to have a behavior plan in place so we can ward off any maladaptive behaviors before they start.

Dear readers, if you get a minute today, can you wish us luck? Or send a quick internet hug? Or a small prayer? Or some good vibes? I think we're going to need it. Its not easy to challenge a SN teacher, school psychologist, speech therapist, and district coordinator. But that's exactly what I'm going to do today.

Its not about who "wins", whether it be the school or myself. Its Jayce that needs to come out of this on top. Jayce's success in school next year will help determine his success throughout the rest of his entire school career. If we get off to a good start, I feel like we can do anything :)

I'll keep you updated!

14 comments:

  1. Best Of Luck! I'll be praying for you.

    (((hugs))

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  2. Wishing you lots of luck and sending thoughts and prayers that you "win" this battle for Jayce!

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  3. It is probably over by now but you've got my complete support! Jayce is one lucky guy to have you fighting for him. Hugs to you all!

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  4. Jess, you know I could not agree with you more on this being that Julia Grace is in the same class with Jayce. Ours is scheduled for May 5th although we have requested to have the date changed for other reasons. The same SN teacher is not willing to accomodate us or our present early interventionist who by ALL MEANS NEEDS to be there. We're still working on just the battle of a time good for all parties.
    Jayce has come so far and I'm so proud of him each time I see him. I hope that Julia Grace makes the same strides in the coming year. I too expect the same difficulties ahead at our IEP meeting and I dread it beyond belief.
    Just because our children have come so far, doesn't mean it's time to pull the rug out from under them and discontinue it all. It didn't all work out overnight and some of the issues will be lingering into the early elementary years as you, myself, and others well know.
    I hope you had the best of luck in your IEP meeting this morning. I ask that your readers pray also for us and send us happy thoughts as we go into our time with the school district soon as well.
    At the end of it all, we need to remember, it's about what's best for our child, not ourselves and not the school district or a budget. Thank you for all you do for our children in our community too (and parents!). :)

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  5. You betcha I'm praying! Let us know how it goes.

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  6. Hi Jess-

    Beautiful photos. Miss you. I was thinking about deleting my blog, but I think I am just having "one of those moments" so I think I will wait before I do.

    Happy birthday to Jayce, he's so sweet and I can't believe it will be 5 years!!!!!!!!!!!! OMG~!

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  7. Sorry, Jess, I just looked at the photos and didn't read the IEP part. I am sorry.

    My best of luck to you. School is tough and I pray he can get into a class with a loving caring teacher and a good plan of action.

    Go with your heart Jessie, you have always been right.

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  8. me being part of IEP meetings on a weekly basis, if not more ( 2 just today!) am with you. I am amazed that they would want to drop all services. The transisition to a reg. classroom is a big enough change in itself and will clearly be smoother if other supports are still in place. I can't even imagine thinking of dropping services on such a little kiddo with autism. that seems so crazy. seriously. You are a member of that team and you have the legal rights to be demanding and get what you want, so state your case girl! keep me posted!

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  9. I'll be thinking of you all day. Yours is one of the blogs that keeps me going along our journey - you are an inspiration to me and I'm sure many other parents of children on the spectrum. Good luck!

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  10. Sending lots of good thoughts your way!

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  11. I hope it went well! I'm a little late getting here! I hate confrontation. And I know that what you're doing isn't technically "confrontational," it's so hard to be assertive when you're facing the so called "experts." I hope your sweet baby got everything that he needs! I'm anxious to hear an update!

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  12. That is a hard spot. I hope all goes well. I know you and your determination and am sure you will work something out. I wish you and Jayce the best. He is doing great!

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  13. Ugh...I'm reading this a day late. Hopefully everything went O.K. C-boy had an IEP from the time he was 3 until he was 6. So I know what that is all about. Praying for strength and peace for you as you navigate through the process. Love your pictures too!

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  14. I hope everything went well for you. Thanks for leaving the comment on my blog and thanks for telling me about how long the meds can take to work.

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Thanks for commenting!