Saturday, March 17, 2007

The IEP 2007

Back in October, we became aware that Emma's current arrangement in school, in a regular 2nd grade class with an aide (a wonderful woman who's been her aide since Kindergarten), wasn't working very well. Emma actually scores near 'normal' (I can't just let that word be 'normal', now, can I?) for social skills, for someone who can barely talk and knows about 15 signs. She has begun to 'self-stim' - she does this puppet thing with her hands, twists her hair, etc. - when the subject matter is beyond her. She's been reacting poorly to being pulled out of class (away from a social setting, duh) for therapies. Her music therapy (another subject entirely) was too elementary for her classmates to share, so that was a bust. So Vicky began asking about alternatives. We were given one - basically this is where you can go that we will bus her - and so we both went to visit, a month or two ago. It was horrible, in that these were very disabled kids, unable to, among other things, even be sociable with each other.Well, after rejecting that, and waiting, and waiting some more, Vicky found out that there is at least one other level of instruction, was invited to check it out (on the same morning her IEP was scheduled), and gosh golly if it doesn't look very good. Looks great! Wish we'd have been told this IN OCTOBER. So, Emma's IEP was today. The IEP, where various therapists detail the things you already know about your child, that she still hasn't chosen a "handed-ness" (which they think is very important, I know she's just going to do whatever she pleases, lol), that she can only hop a couple of times before she loses her balance, and that she just zones out and quits when she's overwhelmed. I spent a great deal of the time thinking to myself, "I'm sure glad there's no review board like this for my behavior." She's making slow progress, everybody thinks
she's "smarter" than she can communicate, and short on answers on how to work on that. And they are all recommending this "Pace" level that we never knew existed until this week. I knew it had to exist, you know, special ed between the two ends of the spectrum, put your own names on it. . . Don't misunderstand me, there's a really good team at her school (with the exception of the speech therapist, go figure). I have been and continue to be grateful for their committment and what they have done. What is very distressing is that no one has appeared to be capable of recognizing and directing us toward what is best for Emma - Vicky's had to do that all on her own.The best part of today was that there was a woman from the District (it's a huge school district, 8th largest in US) who knows what's what and who's who. She kept advising the school coordinator person (Peaches, can you believe naming someone that?) on wording for the forms, and was extremely helpful about finding where to go and what to do next.Two hours later, my stomach growling embarrassingly in the midst of a roomful of people, it looks like Emma's going to go to the class Vicky saw this morning, probably in 2-3 weeks after some more rigamarole.
Our experience, overall, has been nudging people with good intentions into doing what they already know they should, but for some reason don't fully commit - if that makes any sense.There's going to be some transition here, but we really hope that it's a bit of a kick in Emma's pants to tune in rather than tune out.
Emma's first day at her new school, Vicky goes with her to help the transition. As they're happily leaving the school, a woman approaches her, introduces herself as a special ed teacher, and pronounces that the principal has decided that Emma should be in her class, at the same school, not the one that Vicky was shown and has selected. This, of course, not only raises questions (I don't think I need to state them here), but creates a whole new anxiety about what tomorrow's going to be like. The reality is that it's the right decision, but couldn't it have been made before putting Emma through another round of introductions?
It's been a few weeks, and we seem to have ironed out all of the changes, like the school bus arriving a half and hour earlier than we were told it would. Emma seems to be doing alright with the changes, she's actually already demonstrated some behaviors that mimic the more appropriate education she's getting now. And that makes it worth it.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Sick and Tired of being sick and tired

Thanks for checking in, still.
Samuel came down with some sort of viral infection, Super Bowl Sunday. Yes, February 8th. It was the beginning of one, two, or all four of us taking ill until about the middle of last week. It wasn't the same thing, except for one lost weekend when all of us were crawling around and Vicky finally managed to get out for supplies.
So, just to say that I have a few rants saved up, they're on their way.