Saturday, June 10, 2006

We Have Been IEP'd

So, relief has set in. Our IEP is over, and we are all happy with the results. Here's how it went: we got there (bearing food, as everyone told us this was a good idea), and said hello. Our two therapists, Jana (speech) and Lisa (OT) were already there. Everyone seemed so silent, not really talking or saying anything. It's so odd, how these aren't like business meetings where people try to get acquainted before they actually get down to business. This was so serious, as if we were all about to take a test, and couldn't talk about it beforehand. So, I pulled out a tape recorder and said I would like to tape the meeting. They all looked at each other and said, "you can't do that without 24-hour notice, and we didn't get any notice." I told them that I could share the tape, and they said they just couldn't allow it, because they should have been given notice in order to tape it themselves. Immediately, I bristled. I wasn't sure why we couldn't just tape it (and of course, I had wanted to tell them we would tape it, but Erik said no, that it would be far easier to receive forgiveness than permission....well, this time, his theory didn't work). So, I backed down. Then, they handed us a book that explained our parental rights, and said we should have already gotten a copy of it. We had not. I even showed them the book we had with all our information on Owen, and I pulled out every book I had, none of which was that book of parental rights. So now, I was feeling backed into a corner. I couldn't tape our meeting, but they could throw a book of my rights at me and not give me time to read it? How fair is that? So I said, "Fine, but I am not signing anything until I have a chance to read my rights." Erik leaned over and whispered in my ear, "you've got to calm down, they haven't done anything yet." He was right. I was getting angry before anything had been decided. So, we proceeded. We went over all Owen's reports, and then they told us that, given everything they had observed and read, they felt he was at an 18-month level. 18 months! That's only a 1-year old! But, as Erik explained to me later, he has to be at a much lower level, otherwise we won't get services. So, we began the part of deciding what the LAUSD could do for Owen. They asked what school we liked and we told them abou the one we had chose, a collaborative pre-school, with 15 typical kids, and 5 special needs. They all nodded and one of them said, "that is the most sought-after placement. Those teachers are great." So they agreed that Owen could attend that class, which was a relief for me, because I really like the teachers and their classroom and their philosophy. School, check.

The next thing was services.What would we get beyond school? The OT said that she was on the fence, but that she felt he could benefit from one hour a month of OT. We weren't expecting that, because everyone said we wouldn't get any OT. The OT would come into the classroom and help Owen navigate some tasks, like scissors, beading, etc. We felt that was fine. Of course, we turned to our OT and asked her if she agreed, which she did (we had been told that they can't recommend unless we ask them what they think). Then, the PT said she didn't recommend any PT because Owen was doing excellent. She said that she was very surprised at his gross motor skills, the ability to navigate stairs, his hips and gait were ermerging normally, and that he had full control of walking. Even though he is not running, she said he is on the verge of it, and that jumping would be emerging sooner rather than later as well. She was amazed at his gross motor coordination, and thought that he would be able to navigate the school just fine. We agreed. We hadn't had a PT for at least a year anyway, and Erik and I practiced stairs and jumping and running with Owen a lot.

Then came speech. The speech therapist recommended that Owen continue with 2 hours per week (what a surprise!), which is what he has been receiving, except that one hour would be with a ST at school, to teach him to communicate with his peers, and he could still maintain his one hour a week with his current therapist. We all looked at each other. We had already gotten what we wanted, without a fight! We were fully prepared to come and fight for two hours of speech, and if we didn't get that, we were going to ask for a Stay-Put, which means they have to continue your services as they stand until the issue is resolved. But here we were, and what we wanted was given to us. Again, we deferred to our ST to make sure that what they had given us had no hidden cost. She agreed that what they were giving us was fine. So there we were. They asked if we had any questions, and we didn't really, except, when do we start school? How do we go about getting him enrolled, etc. We didn't sign the IEP, just because we wanted to take our time and look it over, make sure it was what we had agreed upon and that there were no errors. I glanced at it, and saw that it had a check for bus service, and that it would pick him up at our Studio City house. I asked Erik, why did we need the bus service? He told me, "shhh, just take it, we can always say no." And here I thought people had to fight for bus service, too.

So, we took our therapists out to lunch, since they had given up their day off to come to our IEP, and it had taken three hours. Both of them said that this was one of the best IEPs they had been to in a long time, and that they felt we had been given a good IEP team. Our OT said that, "unfortunately, a lot of times I see that when parents don't appear involved, or organized, or maybe have issues with communication, they often don't get a lot of services." She thought that maybe this team knew we were on top of things and therefore tried to give us what we wanted. I think that probably has a lot to do with it. So, remember, if you have an IEP coming up, dress nicely, be prepared, bring all the paperwork, and know your acronyms (IEP, NPA, IPP, ESY...)!

I am so relieved that it is over. The bummer is that the next time we call an IEP (and, if we feel that this IEP is not working for us, we can call up to four IEPs per year), it will be a different team. And we were just getting in good with this one...


Blogger Shelley said...

Glad to hear that you are happy with the IEP. Those assessment times are part of the worst bit about parenting a child with disabilities - as a teacher myself I found it rather sad that my poor Hannah was getting a 'school report' from early intervention when she was only one! Still in the end it all helps us and others give our kids the best chance at fulfilling their potential doesn't it? Totally understand the blue day - glad they are outnumbered by the good times aren't you?

6:31 PM  
Blogger Naomi said...

Sounds like a great experience.

9:41 AM  

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