Thursday, 7 February 2013

Mixed Emotions

So how is one supposed to feel after a meeting like the one I had today?  I have said it before and I will say it again- it is really hard to sit in a room of people and listen to them list all of your child's deficits.  And it will never never get easier.  After almost 3 years of this with Jack I have come to realize that.  So this afternoon was really rough- I always come out of these meetings feeling like I've either been beaten up or run about 2 miles more than I am capable of.  Just exhausted, emotionally and physically.  And this IEP meeting was almost two and a half hours.  Jack's difficulties were laid out before me- his lack of focus, inability to stay on task, the fact that he is slowly falling behind academically, his social awkwardness, his fine motor delay, his lack of motivation to complete tasks.  This is the bad part.

Here is the good....

For a mom who has known these things about her child for a long, long time, hearing professionals not only acknowledge all of this, but commend me for getting him this far is an enormous relief.  This makes me feel a little guilty, but....think of it this way.  What if you knew something was going on with your child?  But it was your first child, and those around you were telling you things like he's just really smart (true), he's very spirited (true), let him cry it out, he can't do it forever (wanna bet?), just take the airplanes away (ha)?  I remember asking his first preschool teacher if she noticed anything different about Jack. She said no.  Clearly she wasn't paying attention.  His next teacher noticed and finally I had a bit of validation.  Even so, I have never felt like his "team" has taken his issues seriously enough.  With Nate it's clear- he's not speaking, he's constantly stimming, he doesn't respond to his name.  With Jack it was never like that.  But I was the one trying to help him focus on crafts, games, puzzles, etc.  He would listen to books (about his areas of interest) for hours if we would keep going.  All this other stuff- he screamed when I tried to do these things with him.  Every single thing we ask Jack to do is a huge battle and it always had been- but he is charming and smart (and precious, sweet, and perfect), and he could mask much of this, even in a half day program.  While at home, life was basically a constant struggle to prevent or stop the tantrums.   Who am I kidding, it still is.   In Pre-K I felt like they were acknowledging the issues quite a bit more, but it felt like they were saying "send him on to kindergarten, let's just see what he does."

Well here we are.  I told the team today that I have been waiting for this moment for a long time.  I knew it was coming and wondered how long it would take.  Turns out, about 5 months in a full day setting.  Today the entire team agreed that Jack needs additional adult support for language arts, morning work, social studies, science, and math.  In case you're keeping score- that's all academic areas.  Upon hearing this, I burst into tears- maybe the team thought I was sad, but I wasn't- I was just so relieved.  I looked over and his teacher was crying too.  No joke.  You could tell she was relating to our situation- once a special needs mom, always a special needs mom.  Thus far Jack has been getting assistance in language arts only.  He will now be pulled to a small group for reading, to a room with an aid for math, the special educator will be with him for social studies/science and the aid will be with him for language arts and likely morning work as well.  This feels like a bit of a piecemeal solution, but it is a solution nonetheless.  And he has his assessments coming, which will likely qualify him for further services.  All of these additions are coming before that even happens, which gives me great hope for this school. 

The advocate?  I have a whole new perspective.  I was still kind of wondering what exactly she would do.  Here are the things I observed:
1.  Her being the "nitpicker" about language and inclusions in the documentation allowed me to be able to discuss the big picture issues with the team without being the "bad guy"
2.  She knows how things need to be phrased to make sure that they are done, she knows to ask them if they require any further documentation in order to get funding for Jack's needs
3. She caught something BIG today.  When I first discussed his IEP with her, I told her my concerns, which I blogged about last week.  That they were only allotting 30 min/day of special ed services.  I told her I felt that he needed more time with an aid and she said that that was irrelevant to the special ed services section of the IEP.  I was confused but figured I could ask about this further today.  Well, in the meeting, she inquired about what was being done during these 30 minutes each day.  The educator stated that this was the time the aid is with Jack.  Ummmm.....turns out this was a BIG no no.  The special educator has NOT been working with Jack directly, basically at all.  All of his special ed time has been with the aid, and the aid time should be separate from the special ed time, which is the time when the special ed TEACHER should either be coming into the classroom or pulling Jack out.  So this was documented, and now the educator will be spending this time one on one with Jack on a daily basis AND the aid will be coming in.  I NEVER would have known to call them out on that.  In my eyes, he was getting jipped. 

So I am glad I hired the advocate.  I am glad that the team is acknowledging the full extent of Jack's limitations for the first time.  While it's hard to hear, in Jack's case it is way overdue.  I am hoping that now that the academic team has seen this, and they agree that he needs more help, we are on the right path.  Next meeting is Feb. 28th, to finalize the assessment plan.

1 comment:

  1. Just another example of how your instincts are leading you to make excellent decisions on behalf of your boys. So proud of you girlfriend!