March 21, 2011

Here We Go...Again

IEP Day.  Cringe.  I would rather have a pap smear.
Okay it was IEP day in the house! Yes, I know, I know you're on the edge of your seats. As often is the case, my IEP posts tend to be rants of rage and WTF moments as I delve into the mediocrity that is our school district {note, when I refer to mediocrity, that includes, lack of funding, time, resources, and sometimes education that leaves their hands tied, not for the wonderful professionals who work with my son}.

For anyone not versed in the world of special needs, IEP, or Individualized Education Plan, is mandatory for children who receive special education services in the public schools and it must be updated once a year. So after 8-9 scheduling options are thrown out because everyone and your grandma must be present, a date is finally set. This is a good thing. The teachers, paras, occupational therapists, speech therapists, mental health professionals and the special needs coordinator must be present.

As you may remember, or not, the coordinator and I are not on greatest of terms. A brief reminder, I had pulled the boy out of the district and moved, only to find the transition to be too much for him, so we decided to come back. Children with Autism tend to have over the top issues with transition of any kind, and this is one of my little guy’s biggest hurdles. So after consulting with his whole team, I decide this was the best move. UNTIL I accidentally receive an email from said coordinator {not meant for me, oops don't reply to all} basically saying things like, "oh great", "why is she coming back", "more paperwork". Look lady, paperwork is my life's story, and what is best for my son WILL be my first priority. Don't mess with mama bear! I did reply, and took the high road, and perhaps may have played the single mom card a wee bit. She did not attend our last IEP meeting, which was good for both of us I'm sure. She was there this year, and notably unprepared, wasting sooo much precious time asking me questions about little guys private school and other outside therapies that everyone else in the group already knew about. Do your homework lady, read up. When it came time to discuss future plans, like 2 years in the future plans {in Autism world there are years of waiting lists, one must be prepared} I presented my "best" plan. The team was impressed, except for coordinator, who questioned me on several things relentlessly. I won't go into detail, but I was right, she was wrong, and she made a complete ass of herself. Again, wasting precious time!  The team followed up by telling me what a great mom I was for the 10th time, can't hear that too many times in a day, and we carried on.

Told you....rant. Back to the IEP at hand. We have made a lot of progress. Firstly, Gabe's IEP actually referred to him as Gabe and not "Jonathan" 3 times like last year. I was livid to say the least. I also finally got little guy moved from his one on one classroom once a week, to a room with 6 children {and a fantastic new teacher} twice a week. He also receives OT and Speech twice a week there as well. This on top of the private school where he attends Autism Day Treatment five times a week, and has made nothing short of remarkable progress. In fact, at our last progress conference at the private school, they told me they may not be able to have little guy attend next year because they won't be able to keep him qualified. Bittersweet, as is most progress news in the Autism world. Qualifications. Great that he is doing so well, but still needs those services to keep advancing. It's almost all or nothing, boo.

So, I didn't have to fight for Gabe quite as hard this round, the team by now knows I mean business, and obviously my son is a rock star, so my plan is working. And he is working so hard, I'm so proud of my little guy!  I made sure to include his diet restrictions and nixed the gluten laden playdoh and glue to be replaced with a GFCF version. We will continue to work on transition, social skills, calm body choices, and articulation. So it wasn't so bad.

I still feel very blessed to have such great professionals working with my son. What they give of themselves is nothing less than amazing. I also realize that these "early" IEP meetings are cake compared to those in my future, having read other horror stories. As the child grows older, and services are much, much leaner, and class sizes are larger, it can sometimes or often times be difficult to enforce the IEP. Parents with special needs kids have to be the advocate for the child, you cannot wait for things to happen, you have to make it happen.


  1. I'm so glad he's in the private school and making such amazing progress! Good work not backing down at school. That is hard to do. Our IEP is in a few weeks.

  2. I know, I feel so mean sometimes, but it's easy to get steamrolled and quick. Good luck at your IEP. Question...which is one of the debates coordinator and I had. Do your boys get services through the district? If so, bussed to or does the professional come to the school? I think if your school is private, you can make them come to school, at least in your district (or shakopee anyway). We so have to get together and discuss.


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