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.