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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.

B.I.P, Easy As 1-2-3

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We had Connor’s IEP a couple of weeks ago.  It’s taken me a while to digest it and decide what I think about it. 

I requested this IEP.  Yep, as much as I hate these meetings, I demanded this one.  For months I’ve been asking for them to include a behavior intervention plan (BIP) in his IEP, and I finally got them to do the functional behavior analysis (FBA), the precursor to the BIP, and get it implemented.

With the meeting, I went way out on a limb and became the super pushy parent.  It’s an uncomfortable role for me, because I have a tendency to want to be liked.  And I want my son to be liked, and to have people really want to help him.  But I was determined that he needed a 1:1 shadow during recess, which is when he has the most social problems, and I wasn’t going to get it by being Sally Suck-Up.  Connor doesn’t apply skills that he’s heard in a social story, or been reminded of verbally.  He needs to learn them in the teachable moment.  Makes sense, right?

When a child on the spectrum has an obvious deficit in social skills, and has at least three incidents a week of hitting, why would there not be a behavior plan?  I mean, it boggles the mind because it is the opposite of common sense, right?

So we got it.  And that’s a good thing, even though it took until nearly the end of the year.

But there’s more.  According to the FBA, his primary motivations are escape and attention.  To a lesser degree, tangibles.  So here’s where I’m confused.  They’ve started doing this “social mapping” thing with him, where they sit him down with a paper with all these happy, sad, and angry faces.  They talk about whatever he did, how it made the kid feel, how it made the teacher feel, yadda yadda.

Doesn’t that give attention to the incident, which is one of his motivators?  Shouldn’t they refrain from doing that, until maybe the next day?  AND, consequences so far have been missing PE and missing some other activity.  Isn’t escape the other motivator?  So aren’t they feeding into both of those things that he is trying to achieve?

And guess what?  I emailed this question to the district autism coordinator, who did the FBA and wrote the BIP, and she never responded to me.  Just totally blew me off.

And that made me feel…

Don’t get me wrong.  There should be some kind of consequence for his actions.  But it seems like he’s getting exactly what he wants with all the attention he gets for doing these things.

But since I’m just a…

I guess I’ll just give it some time and see if it produces any results.

Politics in the Produce Section

 

Usually going to the grocery store on a Sunday, after 11am is a huge mistake.  If I go early on Sunday it’s a breeze, because it’s just me and the other heathens.  But I was lazy this weekend, and got a late start. 

Let ye all go forth and descend upon the grocery store like locusts upon a field.

Note:  For this post, my “inner” dialog will be written in parentheses.

While perusing the first strawberries of the season, I heard someone call my name.  I looked over, and saw the district autism coordinator (oh geez, summon a big fake smile, quick).  I’ve had mixed feelings and experiences with her (god, she doesn’t have any makeup on and looks like hell), so I wasn’t sure how I felt about the random encounter (AND she’s wearing sweatpants.  I have makeup on and jeans.  Awesome, I have the upper hand in terms of presentability.)

We talked for a minute about the budget issues.  The school district is bracing to receive 20 million less in funding this year, and many positions are on the possible chopping block, including hers.  She said she’s stressed because she has a son in college (lucky for her she doesn’t have a kid with autism to worry about), but she’s thinking of starting a daycare if her position gets cut (I wouldn’t let her dog-sit for me).

Because I’m selfish and single-minded, I steered the conversation toward the behavior intervention plan they were working on creating for Connor, at my insistence (because they’re slackers and shouldn’t need me insisting to have the obvious).  She says they’re working on “data tracking.”  So I told her that my original question was can an aide or someone spend a week shadowing Connor at recess, and helping with social skills on the playground, because that’s when he has a difficult time.  How hard is it to understand that a kid on the spectrum needs help and coaching to learn how to play with the other kids? 

“I’m sure we can find a way to make that happen.”  (standard bullshit answer)  So I reminded her that my initial question about a shadow was never answered in the onslaught of back-and-forth email between me, regular teacher, sped teacher, and her.  I was told about the social stories they read him (great, but forgotten by recess) and about his “motor time” (still useless at recess).  But no one could ever give me an answer about a shadow at recess to help with social skills. 

Oh yes, she assures me she will look into that (lying sack of shit).  And I remind her that it shouldn’t take me ten emails back and forth about something like this (and if they thought they would wear me down, they were sorely mistaken, because I will take it to the ends of the earth just to prove a point, because I’m that much of a bitch).  It should be common sense that a child with autism needs some help with social skills on the playground. 

I did not, however, tell her that I was completely aware that they were all using stall tactics to try and stretch this out to the end of the year (goddamn them to hell).  I also did not mention that I called the principal to request the behavior intervention plan to force them to include social skills training into his IEP (how can I make these people care half as much as I do about my kid’s success in school?). 

I’m not sure if our encounter will produce any results, but I thought it was fortuitous timing to run into her (why was her hair so freakishly dry??  She needs a deep conditioner…).    Maybe it was an unfair advantage to run into her and push my agenda, but autism isn’t fair, school districts aren’t fair, life isn’t fair.  And damn it, I have a job to do.

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