The Spring Season
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.
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!