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At Long Last, the IEP Meme

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Karen, at Solodialogue, created this awesome IEP meme, so we can each share information about the supports we’re getting.  Along with me, she also tagged Grace at That’s Right I Said It Dot Mom, Rhonda at Going Insane, Wanna Come, and Kelly at Unplanned Trip to Holland.  What great company, right?  Make sure you check out what support they’re getting for their kiddos.

Following are the three questions of the Meme:

1.  A list of tools (special chairs, iPad, visual schedules, gums, chewlery, squishees, headphones, whatever devices help focus and sensory issues);

Connor has a rubber-band type thing on the legs of his chair, that he can use to fidget.  He also has a visual reminder strip taped to the top of his desk, that has picture/word reminders about expected behaviors; raising hand to speak, not talking, focusing on work, etc.  There are also picture schedules in the regular classroom and resource room.  A weighted lap pad was tried last year, but he didn’t like it and found it more distracting.  He has used headphones during assembly time, despite the recommendation of the autism specialist, who told me in a meeting that “in the real world, he wouldn’t wear headphones to a meeting, so we should try to get him to attend the assembly without them.”  I’m not even going to go there in this post.  I will say that the headphones were available to him at every assembly until he decided, on his own, that he didn’t need them anymore.

2.  Services (Speech Therapy, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, ABA, TEACCH, Special Ed teaching rooms, aides during class, tutors, etc.) and how many hours per week of each your child receives;

Connor has never received speech, PT, OT, or ABA from the school.  In pre-K, I requested an OT eval, since he was already receiving it through a private provider.  The school tested him and he scored in the below average range for function, but that was still considered “acceptable.”  Last year the SPED teacher expressed concern about his fine motor skills, and mentioned an OT assessment.  I just about had a cow, because if they had listened to me in pre-K, he would have already had the extra help.  He still tested as just barely being in the acceptable range.  So the school staff was kind enough to provide ME with extra workbooks for us to do at HOME.  In other words, “we won’t spend the money on extra support for him, but are expecting you, as a non-professional, will just do it for free.”

As for support, Connor begins and ends each day in the resource room for check-in and check-out.  He also receives extra 1:1 support during different times of the day; reading, math, etc.

In addition he has a BIP (behavior intervention plan) as part of his IEP.  It took me 3 IEP meetings last year to get that BIP added.  They initially didn’t think it was “necessary”, despite the fact that was hitting or pushing almost daily.  Then they chalked it up to pre-holiday angst.  Then he hit the SPED teacher.  Now we have a plan to support his behavior, that includes extra motor time, as well as being given opportunities to say “no” to a request.

The other thing I insisted on was that he have extra support during unstructured time (recess and lunch), since that’s where most of his challenges occur.  His social skills are impaired because of his disability, which affects his ability to learn because he is distracted by the negative peer relationships that are being caused by his lack of social skills.  See that nice little circle?  Since his aggression has almost disappeared this year, I will need to follow up and see if they’re still providing this support, which I doubt.

He also receives shortened assignments as an accommodation and preferred classroom seating (near the teacher).

3.  Your opinions of the effectiveness of (1) and (2) above.

I think the visual reminders are very helpful for Connor, especially the strip they have taped to his desk.  He gets off track so easily, that it’s good to have that right in front of him.

Time spent in the resource room is also very helpful.  He gets more 1:1 attention, and is able to get the extra help he needs to work on things that he is struggling with; telling time, money values, reading, math.

The BIP was moderately helpful.  The key there was that having it in the plan makes them accountable for supporting him and trying to teach replacement behavior, rather than just sending a note home saying he hit.  That drives me insane.  Don’t send me notes about “bad” things he did.  Tell me what happened and what you’re going to do to ensure it doesn’t happen again, or at least try to minimize it.

The last thing we achieved this year wasn’t even in the IEP.  At the IEP meeting, I mentioned that staff at the after school program (which is run by the district, this is the key here) expressed interest in having someone do a disability discussion with the after-school kids.  Someone to tell them about autism and other challenges, explain to them the differences, and how to be a friend.  I jumped on this and told them at the IEP that I could ask our behaviorist if that’s something she could do.  They all nodded in agreement and said it was a great idea.  Then I mentioned I would find out what her rates are and what she would charge the school.

Frownie faces all around the table.  Then the principal said they couldn’t really pay for that service if they have district staff that could provide the same service.  Then the SPED teacher said she would be willing to do the presentation for them.  This is what I wanted all along, but since every one of my requests has been turned down initially, I thought I’d ask for the most expensive option, and then negotiate down to an acceptable compromise.  Haha, suckas!!!!

Seriously though, it was really, really helpful.  I think it should be done in every classroom, in every grade, and every school.  Period.  1 in 110 (or whatever the number is now), plus all the kids with other types of special needs.  Damn straight they should start in kindergarten teaching kids acceptance of those that are different from them.

Next IEP I’ll be pushing for a regular classroom presentation.

So that’s it.  I hope someone finds this helpful.  My advice is to take an advocate to your meeting if you need the extra support.  And I personally NEVER EVER sign the agreement at the meeting (this makes me unpopular, but I’m not there to make friends).  I always demand to take a copy home for review, before I will sign anything.  It gives me a chance to process things, read over what we discussed, and decide if there’s anything else that wasn’t covered.

Now, as for tagging others:

Kara, at Karacteristic.  She’s been scarce lately, and I miss her!

Amber, at Airing My Dirty Laundry, One Sock at a Time - this should be good!

And last but not least, Karen, at Confessions of an Asperger’s Mom – she’s got TWO, so she should have some good advice.

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About Flannery

Kid, husband, dogs, my mother, full-time job, maximum stress, minimal relaxation...sooner or later I had to vent. AND we moved from California to Texas. I could start a whole other blog about that.

13 responses »

  1. This is very, very interesting. I am going to have to talk to Jack’s EA, as I mentioned over at Grace’s joint, because I don’t know if some of the things you have available are ALSO available in Canada. I have never heard of rubber bands for the chairs and that until Lizbeth posted what her son has in class. I also never knew about the “chewlery”

    I just mentioned this to The Man about the chewy things, and he was all “mm-hmm” like “yeah, no news to me” Since he never knows about ANYTHING I was a little shocked! But that’s neither here nor there.

    Hmm…this has really got my brain whirling. Thanks for sharing.

    I will mention to the school about providing sessions whereby they educate kids that other kids are different. Even if they’ve been with that KID since kindergarten, it doesn’t necessarily make everyone empathetic.

    Reply
  2. Oh this just made me growl. How in the world is Connor NOT getting OT?? Have these people ever heard of IDEA?? Or FAPE?? Or disability attorneys?? Gah! It’s kind of like what they did to my son with speech, but at least he gets general speech help in his classroom. You and Connor get workbooks. THAT burns me bad.

    Sorry if that fired you up or anything, but I’m just being honest here.

    One thing I’ve learned through this exercise is that it seems like most of our kids are in a general ed classroom and use a resource room (or special ed room) as needed. Personally I feel inclusion is overrated, and I’m glad my son has the opposite scenario. I know every child is different, and I don’t know how others feel about it, but that’s my take.

    I applaud you for insisting on a meaningful BIP and extra support during unstructured times.

    Thanks for sharing your stuff. I really am learning a lot by reading everyone else’s posts, and I look forward to reading more from your tag-ees.

    Reply
    • Thanks, the OT chaps my ass. I do like the mix that we have, where he’s in a regular class, but makes frequent visits to the sped room for help. That way he’s getting used to a typical setting, but still has the availability of more 1:1 support and help.

      Reply
  3. This is such good information, although I’m disappointed too in how the OT situation was mishandled and thrust on you… So not nice (<-edited comment). I'm also surprised that he received no PT, ABA Speech or OT. This is troubling because when the kids are high functioning, Asperger's or "no longer qualify" for the diagnosis, I'm often left wondering how much is diagnosis and how much is "we're not paying for services so we'll tell you there is no diagnosis").

    You have some brilliant insights that I'm excited you shared. First is the concept of making the school district accountable. "Tell me what happened and what you’re going to do to ensure it doesn’t happen again, or at least try to minimize it" worked into your BIP is such good stuff. And how else would it be appropriate education?

    The second is really, really important and that is to always look for the most expensive option with the best written or scientific backing and negotiate from there – otherwise we rip off our own kids. Getting the SPED teacher to do the presentation by saying you'd check out the behaviorist's rate?!? HAHA!! LOVE!!

    You are the best for doing this. All the responses, resources and tools have been really helpful to me and I hope for everyone else getting read for another IEP. Looking forward to reading the posts of the people you tagged. :)

    Reply
    • I’m still pissed about the OT thing. And pissed that I’ve had to become so assertive to get what we need. It shouldn’t be this hard to get supports for your kids, but it is.

      Reply
  4. Your accommodations are awesome! May kids with headsets unite! And God fear the individual that tries to take them off my kids head.

    That stinks that you’ve had to almost force the issue on them in regard to the BIP. Its like if you knew all it took was hitting the resource teacher you would have had Conner do that a lot sooner. Grrrr…

    Anyway, I think I’m going to steal your idea of hiring out a professional to speak and then have them come up with the idea of doing a talk about Autism in-house all on their own….

    Reply
    • I hate having to be sneaky, because I’m pretty forthright. But they sure do set it up to where you have to pull out every trick to get what you need for your kid. I hate it.

      Reply
  5. Great info, thank you. I’ve gone to many an IEP meeting…

    Reply
  6. Hi. I have totally loved this whole meme and gotten lots of very useful info out of it. It turns out, it’s been most useful so far for my NT son who does struggle with what I can describe easiest as “ants in the pants” syndrome. Since there’s no IEP, I’ve just been dealing directly with his teacher who has been very open to making accommodations for him and she has even given him some on her own that I didn’t know about until recently. All the ideas I was able to give her came from this meme so THANK YOU ALL for sharing!

    Reply
  7. Hi,

    I just stumbled across your blog. I am nearly done with my bachelor’s degree in Special Education, seeing you treated this way by your school makes me very sad and frustrated. I am especially upset that your school doesn’t seem too open about talking to general education students about their peers with diverse needs. I can’t believe they don’t want to do that in all of their classrooms! It would make life so much easier! I don’t wish you more frustration with the school system, but know that it has served as an inspiration to me to be the best special educator/IEP writer/advocate for students and parents that I can be.

    Reply

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