We had two attempts at Mikey’s IEP meeting in as many weeks. Each meeting was two hours long. I am still trying to figure out how I feel about them.
The first meeting was desperately uncomfortable. My advocate reminded us that the school is required to provide a copy of the evaluation report for us to review two weeks prior to the meeting. The meeting date was only set 9 days in advance and I had to ask for the eval report, which seemed to surprise them. Things went downhill from there.
I kicked off the meeting by asking where the information about Mikey’s sensory screening was located in the report. I’d read it many times and it was clear there was information missing. People from the school side began scrambling around, printing paperwork, shuffling forms, dashing into the hallway to whisper.
It became very obvious something was wrong, someone was in trouble, and we were just sitting there waiting to move on. Cody and I sat there for 2 hours, taking turns rocking our newborn, while we paid a babysitter to stay home with Alex. Cody used his last vacation day from work, a day he reserved from his abbreviated paternity leave.
Eventually, the program officer stopped the meeting. She said the school was wasting our time, apologized for that, and said we had 10 days to try again before the evaluation expired and we had to begin the 6-week process from scratch.
That put us in a really tight spot because we had to sacrifice some of our…I’m not even sure what the term is, but we had to suck it up and pay for MORE childcare, take more time from work, and spend more hours on the phone and reading through revised, properly-completed documents.
The school had not completed any of the paperwork correctly. None of it, from the invitation to the meeting to the signature page to the evaluation itself. Our advocate actually asked if the school team had ever completed an IEP before. Her question was met with silence.
SO yesterday, we tried again. This time the program officer conducted the meeting and asked us if we minded whether school personnel attended as observers so she could “model” what she expects from an IEP meeting. Yikes! I felt very uncomfortable entering the meeting, but the tone was light and professional and things went well.
What made me happiest was hearing how things are going so WELL for Mikey. His classroom teacher reports that he is meeting mastery in 30 out of 30 categories for his “report card.” The same report card last year showed him scoring in the lowest range for 30 out of 30 categories.
Mikey has no behaviors of concern. Mikey is interacting with peers in an age-appropriate (if brusque and strikingly honest) manner. Mikey responds to teacher instruction. When his attention wanders, he requires no atypical interventions to get back on track. In short, his teacher views him the same as everyone else in the class.
He does not qualify for special education.
Because he has no goals requiring specially designed instructions, he does not qualify for an Individualized Education Plan.
Quite a different picture from what was painted in June, when we were told the school recommended he be moved to an autism support classroom in another school!
So what do I make of this?
My son has a 504 plan in place to make sure he gets accommodations for some atypical behaviors (he gets to take breaks to use the trampoline in the resource room and has a special area in the classroom where he can decompress periodically). He is otherwise just a regular kid.
So why have I spent the past 5 months going through this process?
I’m not sure whether it’s a question worth pursuing or if that would just lead to increased frustrations.