Monday, April 02, 2007

IEP, yipee

No, seriously, it wasn't that bad. In fact, it was even, well, fun. In a better-than-a-poke-in-the-eye sort of way. But really, the pressure truly was off given that all of us present were well aware that there wasn't a snowball's chance in Haiti that we were going to actually USE this IEP. So the atmosphere was relaxed and jovial. Well, as much as could be expected anyway. They weren't exactly serving cocktails.

The cast of characters included myself, the SLP (the "head" of Jacob's "team"), the OT, the School Psychologist, the School Nurse, the Principal, the Special Education Teacher, and a First Grade classroom teacher. We all greeted each other warmly, except for the Psychologist who didn't know anybody and had to be introduced. I guess my insincts were right on her, this was definitely her first IEP meeting at this school, othewise she'd already know the key special services players.

They let the rookie start. She presented a very detailed description of Jacob's history, and the results of her testing, although when she got near the end, she was hurried along a bit by the Team Leader, because there was a lot more results and reccommendations to go through in our hour slot, and she'd taken up about half of it. In the end, her basic assessment boiled down to a very bright Autistic child with deficits in abstract conceptual thinking. Fair enough. Except maybe the Autistic part. Well, Ok, so I guess technically Jacob IS Autistic. Was Autistic? I dunno. But anyway, she seemed to find it pretty incredible that he has moved from "severely Autistic" on the CARS to "mild to moderate Autism". I reminded everyone that Jacob's sensory issues cause that CARS score to be dragged down considerably. But I don't think anyone was willing to hear that he's quite possibly not on the Spectrum anymore, so I didn't quite go there.

Next was the OT. She presented the results of the Sensory Checklist she had me fill out, which found that he has significant problems in 2 areas, and minor problems in a few others, but that in general it represented a vast improvement over where he was at when we pulled him out of school (i.e. prior to starting Sensory Integration Therapy with him). She went on to describe the facility where he gets his OT/SIT now, emphasizing that the things they do there and the sorts of equiptment they have are just not possible to implement in a school setting. (Well, sure they are, it would just cost a lot of $$, so nobody is WILLING to do that.) And she said that yes, indeed, he should be continuing to get those services.

Up next was the Special Ed teacher. She presented her findings -- all Kindergarten Markers met or exceeded, and went on to describe the two written tests she gave. Before she started with that 2nd piece, I said "what everyone needs to know first is that Jacob has received absolutely no instruction in writing", and she laughed and said "yeah, you should have seen the look she gave me when I pulled out the pencil and booklet." I said "Yup, I thought you were completely out of your mind." But she presented the results, and turns out he tested in the average range for a child mid-way through the first grade. She identified his areas of challenge (other than actually holding the writing implement) as being reading comprehension (although his comprehension is at a mid-first grade level, his decoding skills are endless -- she couldn't find a ceiling, the child can pick up anything and read it to you -- so while he's actually above grade level in reading comprehension, he's far behind where he should be compared to his decoding abilities) and retelling stories. Her reccommendations included a once monthly consult with his classroom teacher, but she didn't think that any other academic services were neccessary.

The SLP went next, and she presented all of Jacob's test results as being in the average range for his age, with the exception of expressive vocabularly, which was in the high average range. She reported him having deficits in retelling stories.

The school nurse was last, which was a pretty quick report, since Jacob has not had any major illnesses or injuries since his last triennial review, 3 years ago of course. In fact, I think I just said more than she did.

Then it was my turn. I stated the reason I was homeschooling for the coming year as follows: 1. He needs to continue with his SIT therapy (as pointed out by the school's OT) and that would mean he would be missing 1 day per week, which would be very disruptive to both Jacob and the classroom. 2. We have identified via RDI that he is at a developmental level that is not consistant with academics yet. 3. We are going to be implementing the Enki Education Kindergarten curriculum, which has an emphasis on story comprehension and retelling of stories, and the RDI curriculum has an emphasis on conceptual thinking. Backflips of joy nearly broke out from the team members.

In summary the IEP reads sort of like this: Jacob qualifies for Special Services under the primary disability of Autism. We offer the following accomodations and reccommendations (as above). Mrs. Moon refuses all services. Next IEP meeting to be scheduled at whatever time Mrs. Moon decides to re-enroll Jacob's in school, allowing for enough time for testing and placement assessments (so in the spring of the year before re-enrolling him in the fall of the year).

We all shook hands and left on a happy note.

Since we DID write an IEP, I will have to file a Notice of Intent to Homeschool (which is a "suggested procedure" in our state, rather than a statute, so legally I shouldn't HAVE to do it -- but we've now written an IEP, with my full knowledge that SAYS that I'm homeschooling, so the paperwork all has to match up). Which is really no big deal -- it just means that I'll need to meet with someone from the School Board next spring for a "portfolio review". Which is scarier than it sounds, really I just need to bring in a bit of proof that I've been doing something with my kid other than letting him play video games all day. But it's still something that, in the future, I'll make a point of avoiding, making it very clear on the form that it's for the 2007-08 school year ONLY.


At 10:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been chatting with Bea who does the Miracles Do Happen blog.

In brief, she suggested I contact you. After years of support, I thought I'd give something back by creating a broad range of fact sheets for parents at and parents such as Bea have been very kind to let me publish excerpts of their stories on this site, with links back to the blogs in question.

I've really had trouble finding a general guide to using RDI, and also parent's experiences with the GFCF diet (both good and bad).

Would you mind if I took excerpts from your blog? I usually post the story then email the blog parent to see if they are happy with it, then make any amendments.

Anyway, thanks for your blog. Things are much easier for parents new to the autism journey because these blogs exist!

Barry Morris

At 11:32 AM, Anonymous Carla said...

Just curious. Why do you have to go through the IEP process if you aren't using the services and you are homeschooling? We went through the process when my son turned 3 but I rejected it immediately and never signed it. I sent them a letter saying we would be pursuing private services and never heard from them again. He is now 5. We never even got any info. about the possibility of upcoming Kindergarten like my sister did for my niece. He isn't going to K next year anyway. He is repeating pre-K and will go to private school, not public. But, it seems like once I rejected the first IEP they crossed me off all lists (which is fine with me). But, I am just curious why you had to do this IEP business if it doesn't benefit your son? I'm just confused. Thanks for your blog. I read it daily!! ;-)

Carla (jkysmom on RDI mid-atlantic)

At 11:50 AM, Blogger Harvest Mom said...

Barry, I will email you privately.

At 11:56 AM, Blogger Harvest Mom said...

Carla, we had an active IEP for 2 years while Jacob attended public school pre-K (we pulled him out mid-way through his 2nd year). We wanted the triennial review this year, so we had it written into this year's IEP (even though, in CT, you don't qualify for services through the public school system if you are homeschooling) because they were willing to do it. Obviously, they're not willing to continue offering services if we're not going to take them up on it, so the ball's in our court now as to if/when we want another IEP (i.e. if we were going to send him back to school, which seems pretty darned unlikely, but still, you never know what life is going to throw at you). It was our decision to have an IEP in place this past year. Now that we've declined this year's, they're off the hook as far as having to offer us anything unless we reenroll him.

Clear as mud?? ;-) The simple answer is that he's already on their radar, so it's harder to get OFF the radar than it is to just never show up there in the first place. But the school has always been extremely reasonable (well, other than declining to pay for RDI, but I think we could have gotten that too if we were willing to take it to court -- we just weren't), we've been very lucky in our interactions with them and we're all on good terms with one another. Helpful in case of an emergency in the future that would neccessitate us having to deal wit them again.

At 12:36 PM, Anonymous Carla said...

Thanks for the explanation! It does make sense. I understand keeping a good relationship with them. That is exactly what we did. We sent them a very nice letter saying that we were opting to do private therapy and that we appreciated their time and their offer. I agree with you that you don't want to burn bridges. You never know what life is going to throw at you and when you might need somebody or something that you never thought you would. :-)


At 3:32 PM, Anonymous kyra said...

congratulations for being done with the whole process and on to more years of homeschooling!


At 5:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ahhhh IEPS! Gotta love them! NOT! COngrats on having the whole thing *behind* you! LOl



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