Tuesday, June 3, 2014

IEP, End of 3rd Grade

Today could not have been a more perfect day. It started with a nice walk with a good friend, then getting ready for the IEP, putting Nathan down for a nap, and having another good friend come over to my house while Nathan napped (one of my visiting teachers). I can now say that my day was made even better by attending the IEP meeting today. It was probably one of the easiest, shortest, least tense meetings I've been to, especially one where the special education director attends.

I've mentioned in the past that the previous sped director was really difficult to work with. She only cared about the bottom line, and had no experience in sped, so she often made her decisions based on whether she thought the district should pay for them, not on whether the child needed it. Because I spent YEARS going to meetings like this, I am still getting used to the idea that my ideas are heard and most often accepted and written into the IEP. But today, because I didn't know anything about the new director, I was nervous once again. I knew he was aware of my list of requests, and because I hadn't heard anything about what he thought of them, everything was up in the air.

But to my surprise, the new director was easy going, accommodating, and generous. The meeting was pretty much directed by me, while I read the list of requests. First topic: allow Julianna to leave school at 2 pm on Mondays and Wednesdays next year in order to do her ABA therapy at home before dinnertime. This means she will miss 2 1/2 hours of school a week. His answer to that: yes, let's do a 90-day trial period and revisit how the schedule is working. Usually, to request something like this, it opens up a heated debate, but not today, and in fact, once that topic was done, I looked around the room and remarked, "Wow! That was easy!" They all kind of laughed at that.

Next topic: Provide a personal bus home from school on Mondays and Wednesdays (the therapy days.) His answer: yes, we can do that. Again, I was shocked, and trying to contain my excitement.

Next topic: Receive occupational therapy again at school to avoid me taking her 45 min one way for therapy through our health insurance. His answer: yes, we will have the OT assess her at the beginning of the school year and get that going again. Okay, I was on a roll here. Let's try another one...

Next topic: Allow Julianna to be pulled out of the general classroom Mon-Thurs to the resource room for extra help in math with the resource teacher and her 1:1 aide. His answer: How much time do you think she needs? How much time??? Did he really ask me that? Well, how about 45 minutes? Done. She will now get more help in math, which she desperately needs. Things were going so well that I asked for the one I thought would be next to impossible...

Next topic: Provide speech therapy once a week during the summer break to help her in her stuttering. His answer: We can do that, during ESY (Extended School Year.) So now she will be getting 5 sessions of speech during the summer break.

Really, this IEP seemed like it was out of a dream. I am so glad I was able to sit around the table with people who really care about Julianna and want her to succeed. Now I know what a great person the new sped director is and I will never again be nervous to ask for something that I think Julianna needs. This is how it should be: parents know their child best, and when the parent comes into a meeting with good ideas, those ideas should be given careful consideration and approval when appropriate. I am so excited for Julianna's next school year!! It is going to be her best ever.

Another neat thing that happened at this meeting was when we got into a discussion about her behavior at home. Something that has continued to baffle her teachers is when I tell them how much she tantrums, screams, and bites her hands at home. She is so well-behaved at school that they can't even imagine her doing this. As we were discussing this, I had the realization that school was not causing her feel anxious at all, it was the home setting that was. It was her brother who sometimes ignores her and doesn't want to answer all her little questions. Julianna craves one on one attention, and when she doesn't get it, she will tantrum. At school, there is structure, and she has her personal aide with her all day to talk to and help her, and she has her cute little friends that love to play with her. But then she comes home, and when her brother doesn't want to play with her, or when Joel or I are too busy to spend time with her, she doesn't know what to do with her time. And this often results in a major tantrum. School is not creating anxiety for her at all--I need to look at how I can improve the home setting for her.

Looking toward the summer, I am more hopeful than I have been in a long time. She will be starting the ABA therapy, and we can address the home issues even more than we did the first time, and really get to the root of her stress and anxiety, and hopefully fix it. This, along with her new psychiatrist, psychologist (whom she will see next week), and the GFCF diet, will be a good help for her to improve in many areas.


  1. What great news Kera!! After all the years of rejection, this meeting must have felt so good! I am so happy for you to receive the help you have needed for so long! I love you all so much, Mom