Reflections on an IEP Meeting

Our IEP meeting was Thursday, and I felt like we accomplished something, but I’m reserved in my enthusiasm…  More of a wait-and-see attitude about it all.

The good:

  • They agreed to implement his IEP as it came from our previous state, to the best of their ability
  • They agreed that training for the teachers in modifications and accommodations was necessary immediately
  • The teachers seemed to support his need for an aide
  • We finally fixed his schedule so that he would no longer have two math classes
  • They will be adding ASD-specific life skills to his schedule to replace the math
  • They will be looking for some sort of computer for him to use for assignment
  • They will begin to actually implement his IEP, and the ASD specialist commented several times that this was overdue

The not-so-good, of the “shake my head” variety:

  • The teachers kept bringing up common autistic traits, “He won’t talk to me,” or “He won’t do his work, even after being directed”
  • The principal asked me point-blank, “He won’t verbalize it if he needs something??”
  • They are going to do more testing, including a psychological and intelligence (IQ) test, even though he was thoroughly evaluated this spring in his old district, simply because the new state requires these other tests
  • My concerns about organization help and communication were not addressed as specifically as I’d like them to be
  • They included a note about following his IEP “to the best of their ability”

I think I was heard, I think they have a better idea of what needs to be done, I think I’m not “that woman” anymore.  I don’t know to what extent they will follow through on their promises, and they have a great deal to learn about autism in general, and my son, specifically.

I hope we accomplished something.  I hope…

IEP documentation

Struggling

I’m really struggling here.  I have never ever had to worry about what went on at school for The Boy.  I knew how lucky I was then, because I read horror stories of what goes on in most school districts, but we were fortunate enough to have a great program, and the absolute best teachers who fought on our side the very few times it was even necessary.

Here, I think I have sent 40 emails in the past week to The Boy’s school personnel.  In addition to three meetings.

And the hits just keep coming.  There is still no aide, although the county autism specialist sent a TA to the school in the mornings to assist.  But only for this week.  I had to walk him back into the school yesterday when I found all of the school supplies (you know, from the supply list that they make available in the summer?) still in his backpack — He’d been carrying them since the first day of school and I had asked multiple times for someone to assist him in getting those things into his locker.  He still has his PE policies parent-sing-page in his backpack, all filled out, but not getting to its destination, plus several random untitled assignments – not checked, unacknowledged.

Last night, he had written that he had science homework in his planner, but neither what it was nor was it on the correct day.  I was clueless, so I emailed the teacher, after checking her website and still being clueless.  She responded to explain the assignment, and I responded thank you and we-may-need-some-more-time-on-this.  No response.  (Mind you, the assignment was to make a list of the characteristics of a science teacher and then draw a rough sketch of a correlating picture, and they will do a final draft of the picture in class, the purpose of which is to supposedly give the teacher a sense of their “work ethic”…)

projectWhile checking websites, I checked his social studies teacher’s website.  I saw that the “hot dog foldable” had been due yesterday, again no explanation of what that was.  I remembered something floating around his backpack that seemed like it fit the bill, so I made sure he completed that last night.  I also noticed on her website that they were given a “research project” today.  I had no idea what that was, but knew I wouldn’t be able to get any more work out of him last evening, so I let it drop.  Then, I actually found the assignment in his binder this morning – it had an explanation and a rubric and everything!  The goal was to help foreign visitors understand the “key historic, geographic and economic features of a region” – The Boy’s region was apparently “London”.  They were supposed to write up a four day itinerary, and include a map, outlining the route.  Got this assignment yesterday, due today.

So on top of my son having needs that aren’t being addressed in class, due to a lack of an aide to help him attend to tasks at hand, he also has needs that aren’t being met in terms of his organizational skills, and no one helping him to keep track of assignments.  No one is modifying assignments to my knowledge.  And we have a range of assignments from drawing pictures to one-night research projects!

If The Boy didn’t love school so much, I would seriously be considering homeschooling right now.  It’s totally not out of the question…

 

I Spoke Too Soon

The second day of school, I was working with The Man, helping him finish an interior painting project because I have not much else going on right now.  Mid-morning, I got a phone call from The Boy’s school.

It was The Boy’s special ed teacher, calling because he was refusing to do his work… a student interest inventory in math.   I told her he had done one for homework, and logically, may not want to do the same thing all over again.  After we hung up, I felt a ball of oh-no-did-she-really-just-call-me-about-something-she-should-totally-be-able-to-handle form in my stomach.  I felt like I may have been really wrong to feel relived last week.

She called later that evening sounding a bit panicked, listing her concerns:

  • There was an unplanned fire “drill” on the first day (something was smoking in the kitchen), and his teachers were concerned about his safety during the drill, because he was pacing.
  • He left the classroom at one point during the day, without permission.
  • His social studies teacher thinks it isn’t beneficial for him to be in her class because he is not doing the work, and should go to the resource room for that class.
  • He draws all the time and is not following instructions.

These were my thoughts that coalesced that evening at the conclusion of the phone call…

  • There was an unplanned fire drill and he didn’t freak out, have a meltdown, or run for the hills.  He paced.  That’s clearly a win.
  • He left the classroom without permission only onceAnother win.
  • He isn’t doing the work in social studies on the second day of schoolAnd?…  He didn’t have ESY this year, this is par for the course! 
  • He draws all the time in class, and isn’t following instructions…  Welcome to my world.

I know not all kids with autism are alike, but I would expect experienced educators to have a bit more of an understanding of the common obstacles to learning for students with autism.  I did provide multiple copies of his IEP/Testing packet that includes a rather extensive narrative from his previous teacher about how to get him to participate and do work.  The autism specialist, his special ed teacher and I did meet last week, when I talked at length about these things.

You have to have some competency, and if you don’t, you have to use the resources available to you, before you call me in the middle of class asking what you should do.

I didn’t make any friends when I emailed all and sundry in the special ed department and administration stating that he needs an aide, and only has one in one of his general ed classes.  Because of that email, though, the county autism specialist spent a day with The Boy and his special ed teacher, and gave her plenty of strategies to use.  Since then, I’ve been trying to smooth things over, but this is not going to be easy.  And they are going to get quite used to my face, voice, and the “ping!” of my emails…