Sunday, April 17, 2016

IEP Time

It's that time of year again, the end of the school year, when track is in full swing and the school year is wrapping up and we have IEP meetings.

IEP, for those who don't know, stands for Individualized Education Program.  If you didn't know, prior to my telling you, what an IEP is, be thankful.  That means your children mature and develop and learn right on target with other kids their age.  Any child who receives any sort of special services (Speech, Reading Assistance, Physical Therapy, etc) from a school district has an IEP, which is a legal document that spells out your child's needs, how the school will provide for those needs, and how your child's progress will be evaluated.  In the case of Moise and Kruz it's more of a legal book than a document.  Every spring we (I and all of the people involved in his education: teachers, therapists, paraprofessionals, etc) collaborate to set the wheels in motion for the upcoming school year.

For Moise, these meetings last anywhere from 2-4  hours and there are typically 10-12 of us at the meetings.  There is always a short little list of things he can do and a list longer than my arm of the many things he can't do.  It's intense and without fail I leave wondering if we made the right choices, if we covered all the bases.  Once upon a time these meetings for Moise were a source of great heartache for me.  There's nothing quite like an IEP meeting to make you fully aware of just how wide the gap between your child and his peers is. But somewhere along the way it has become less painful. I've lowered my expectation and accepted what is and what is never going to be.  The gap is no longer earth shattering. We've already had his IEP meeting and it has been determined that he will remain at Schramm Education Center next school year.  I have been overall pleased with this past year.  I do feel that, with the move, we lost a little in the area of academics but we gained much in the area of functional life skills, which is, at this point, of greater importance.

Kruz's meeting is set for this week and I am fully prepared for what's ahead.  He's not making the progress that I'd hoped.  I'm afraid...... terribly afraid.....that we (his educators and I ) are missing a piece of the very complex puzzle that is Kruz.  He, like Moise, doesn't fit any sort of mold. I know that no two children are the same, they are all unique and individual and blah, blah, blah.  But folks, we're talking any entirely different level of unique here.  His disorder is extremely rare and virtually no one, not his doctors, therapists, nor educators, have ever heard of it, much less seen it and, quite frankly, have no clue what to do with it.  Last year we set what we thought were appropriate goals for him based on his development at that time and what we thought we might be able to expect from him.  We missed the mark by a long shot.  Throughout the school year, I've waited and encouraged and gently nudged him, knowing full well that I couldn't expect too much at first.  School was a culture shock to this sweet little one whose entire world revolved around his extreme social anxiety.  His educators and I opted for sending him to our home school district based on the fact that he would have higher functioning peers to model after. We, or at least I, hoped that by being immersed in a classroom of higher functioning children he'd take off, blossom, reach for the stars.  I don't need the people around the IEP table to tell me that that didn't happen.  He, in fact, met very few of the goals we had set for him.

The big question is "why?"  Why are we not seeing steady progress in certain areas? Are we, indeed, missing something?  Is it just Kruz?  Are our expectations too high?  I've sounded the horn, having learned long ago that it's best not to wait until the actual meeting to voice concerns.  I've spoken to each of his therapists and found that they too are scratching their heads.  On a positive note, we are all in agreement that within the last month or two there has been a dramatic change in his social development. Although he hasn't met the goals, we've seen some slow progress in the area of gross motor.  It is my opinion that he can walk. He just doesn't know that he can and, therefore, doesn't.  Likewise, we are hearing a few more consonant sounds in the area of oral motor and speech development.  But in terms of cognition and fine motor development there's been very little change in the last year.  We work relentlessly on fine motor skills but it's as though there is a sort of impasse, some physical, tangible barrier that prevents him from developing in this area.  

While I do feel a bit anxious about this upcoming meeting, I am hopeful.  I look forward to seeing all of the facts of the last year on paper.  I am hopeful that with enough brainstorming and pooling our thoughts, we'll come up with something that will work.

Meanwhile, back at the farm, we're living the way life has taught us to live.... one moment at a time.   He's enjoying spring turned summer overnight, exploring the world and fishing with daddy.  And we're soaking up the pure, simple joy that he radiates.

God is good, all the time. 

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