Wednesday, October 05, 2005

1-2-3 I-E-P!!!

The Kid's official special ed staffing took place on Monday morning. The end result from that meeting is The Kid's specialized IEP, and a definite commitment from the school to provide all of the goods and services at their disposal that his IEP outlines that he needs. This, ultimately, is very good.

But I've read and re-read the document and can't help but feel that it is lacking. It is generally unfinished: it is lacking in specificity, lacking in services planned to be rendered, and lacking in focus.

I'm going to drive The Social Worker crazy. I took to the IEP like the professors that were the bane of my existence during my academic career. Everywhere in the document, I say, "define this!" and "you are contradicting yourself!" The goals and baselines are really unfocused. Goal one is: "The Kid will increase his ability to cope appropriately." Cope with what? What is appropriate coping? The objective is to have The Kid learn 3 new techniques to soothe himself. Learn, or enact? Is there a difference? I think he already knows or has learned a number of ways to soothe himself. The issue for him is to apply that knowledge. Perhaps that is too much to expect? I am not sure.

The second goal involves following adult directions. The baseline is "The Kid has many incidents of non-compliance a day." I understand the concept of non-compliance, and can imagine that it encompasses a large range of behaviors. It can go from not carefully following an instruction all the way to a violent temper tantrum in the middle of the class. What are his most severe non-compliant behaviors? I still don't think I know this, at least on a practical, "happens every day" kind of basis.

Goal three is the base of my biggest concern, however. The goal is for him to increase his ability to join classroom activities. Again, there are no specifics in the goal, baseline or objective. Just that he isn't part of the class now, and should join them in the future. I agree that this is the entire purpose of pretty much every IEP that is written in this country. The problem is that the way things currently are, this is almost an impossibility. I was told during the staffing that because he has so much trouble with transitions, that he and The Para go for "sensory walks" whenever a transition is coming up. He then comes back into the classroom after the next activity has already started. I know The Kid. This will cause one of two (if not both) reactions with him: 1) anxiety because he's missed something or 2) the need for extra effort to get him going in the new thing because he missed the directions, will need to be settled down and get going. The end result of this is that he's constantly set apart, constantly missing class, and constantly behind or not finishing his assignments. This is not the way to acheive the goal, and I am requesting that this stop.

There are some pretty glaring contradictions that may change the services plan. The Social Worker inserted the sensory and motor profile that was done inconjunction with the preschool special ed group. This analysis is outdated, and I'm hoping that our work with DU will update it, and elucidate his needs in this area better. The report from last year stated that his pencil grip was normal for his age of 4. At 5, he has an immature grip, which was noted by the Speech and Language specialist, but not included in the motor section. He needs help in this area now. Additionally, I believe that he needs more attention paid to his sensory integration issues, which will likely be coming to light in the DU report. The DU report will also give further direction on what kinds of therapies may work for him (OT, PT, etc). As it stands, he will be seeing an occupational therapist for 5-30 minutes per week. If his central issue is sensory integration, 5 minutes per week of OT is not going to cut it.

We left the meeting with the understanding that it wasn't done. They all know that we are going to be getting a report from DU in two weeks. They must also suspect that I'm going to haunt them for appropriate services because I've been at that school practically as much as I've been at work for the past few weeks.

One funny note/victory: The teacher came to the meeting with the proposal that we change the behavior chart/report yet again. This time, she proposed that she would report on each segment of the day rather than reporting on the negative behavior (NOT hitting, etc.). Can you say, I TOLD YOU SO!!! I have written a number of times that this was how I envisioned this program, and told her that this was the way I thought the chart would best be executed way back on day one. As I was annoyed with how long it took The Teacher to finally take my advice, my sister reminded me that sometimes the greatest satisfaction is to hear your own ideas repeated back to you. Yes, it is good, but it sure took her a long time to do it!

I plan to make great use of this data that we are going to collect from these new charts. We might just see a pattern emerge. This might help plan when interventions should take place in the course of the day. Perhaps they could schedule the "sensory walks" at specific times, once or twice, during the day rather than removing him whenever the class was changing activities?

Overall, the IEP is just getting started. I'm not disappointed, but I am aware that there is a lot of work I would like see done to this plan.

One other bit of news. I'm taking The Kid out of the AM session at the school. The AM session is awesome in theory (specials, spanish class, structured "academic" setting taught by paras instead of daycare for the time not spent in kindergarten, etc), but with 31 kids in the class, it is simply too much for The Kid to process, and then expect him to be present for the real thing in the PM kindergarten class. Instead, he's going to spend the mornings at the daycare, which will have 13 kids, free play with some story and circle time inserted and in general a loving atmosphere.

I am hopeful.


Rachel said...

As teacher who has done many a IEP, I think they are just trying to cover their ass by using vague language. I never did that because it doesn't really help the kid but a lot of teachers do because the vaguer the goals, the easier and less work it is to comply.

Mrs. Ris said...

I love the idea of having a smaller, more intimate morning experience so that he might be more able to "cope" in the afternoon.

Re the goals: ask that words like Learn be replaced with action verbs.

FYI: When I use "coping" in an iep, I refer to "demonstrate age-appropriate coping skills, including asking for help from a familiar adult, taking 3 deep breaths and taking a step back,moving away from a difficult or overwhelming situation (with or without a teacher prompt)".... Of course, the question is, who will be teaching these discreet skills? He won't learn them by osmosis. It has to be intentional instruction.

These are just some ideas....

Good luck with all of it. It can be a cumbersome process, but you already know it's the precursor to getting everyone and everything on a positive track.

ps....the kid is absolutely adorable!