Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sam's IEP Meeting

Man, I'm an informed, involved parent. The process doesn't scare me at all.

So why was I such a wreck after a 2 hour IEP meeting? I totally lost it with the kids tonight; I was yelling at Sofia and the boys were trying to calm me down!

Of course it was a looooong day, before and after the meeting.

1. Drove the boys to school
2. Drove Sofia back to her school (which is around the corner from home)
3. Drove back to the boys' school, to...
4. Help lead TOddler program at the day school.
5. Drive back to pick up Sofia.
6. Go home for a quick lunch.
7. Drive back to Framingham to drop her at a friend's house for a playdate.
8. Drive home again.
9. 15 minutes in the house (polished my nails)
10. Drive to the school for the IEP meeting.
11. IEP meeting
12. Get out at 3:09. Drive to Framingham YMCA to pick up Sofia (making sure that a friend will pick up the boys).
13. Drive to day school for the boys.
14. Forget all about Sam's therapy appointment until said therapist calls to remind me.
15. Drive to therapist's new office to drop off Sam.
16. Take Micah and Sofia to Friendly's for some ice cream, which I decide will suffice for dinner.
17. Back to pick up Sam.
18. Drive home.
19. Fight with Sofia about bath and pajamas.
20. Try to get all the new items into the yearbook.
21. Make bagel pizzas for the boys, eat leftover chicken for me.
22. Continue fighting with Sofia.
23. Eventually get all the kids to sleep.
24. Work on yearbook until...
25. H arrives to work on Yearbook with me. 2 hours.

Now she's gone, David's home, and I'm beat.

Anyway, back to the IEP. The four stressful things:
- The IEP Coordinator from Ashland reminded us that what is on the Recommended Accommodations list should be what he actually gets. Turns out the recommendation was for full-time in class assistant, which he did not have this year. A little tense, until we realized we really don't want full-time anyway because then he can't achieve independence.

- Summer plans. Sam's reading specialist really wants him in a language-rich academic program for the summer. I really want him to go back to the arts camp that he's been going to, just for 4 weeks, but they happen to overlap with 3 of the 5 weeks of Ashland summer school. So we tossed around ideas. Public can only recommend EITHER a tutor 2 times per week for 5 weeks OR camp for 5 weeks (5 days per week). Ultimately, we agreed that he needed the arts camp because of the psych issues (oh, good news, we're reinstating the psych services!). And the summer school director was at the meeting, and said she knows some teachers who are Wilson-certified (his reading program) who tutor on the side. But it was a long and difficult discussion.

- Choices. The staff from MWJDS all had to leave before we were completely finished, although we got through all the academic pieces with them, just had the last couple of detailes to finish. So I had a chance to be with just the Ashland people - the IEP Coordinator, the Psychologist, and the Summer School director. (Oh, and E, who was there as Sam's tutor. David got stuck on a conference call and never made it to the meeting). So I asked them:

Three years ago, when we did Sam's first IEP, the Ashland team at the time had told me that although they usually recommend pulling a kid with this kind of learning disability out of private school and into public, for Sam they would not recommend moving him. They said the day school was doing a great job of working with him, and he was so strongly identified with the Judaic content, and so comfortable with the small school, that it would be bad to pull him out.

So I wanted to know if they thought that was still the case. Is the day school doing enough for him, and is he in the right place?

It was a relief to hear their answer. The Psychologist piped up quickly - the sheer size of the public school would be horrible for Sam. Just on the walk from the front door to her office each week, she could sense how much stress he was under from the crowds.

The other professionals also agreed that, while they didn't have a crystal ball that could tell them how he would do in public school instead, they thought the day school was doing as well as they could, and the psych issues and Sam's strong connection to the day school tip the scale in favor of the day school.

- The last stressful thing was a particular goal. Basically, our goal for next year the end of fifth grade, is to have Sam reading at a Wilson level 28 - which is the end of SECOND grade! Sigh. I know he has trouble, but it's so painful to hear it in such concrete terms. Now, we all agreed that if we could get him further, great, but on the IEP they didn't want to put an unrealistic goal, and Level 28 would actually be a really significant jump from where he is now (Level 18).

That's one of those times when my child's disability surprises me with a little slap on the face. It's quick, and it's not really all that important in the grand scheme of things, but it's there on the paper.

Of course, that also bolsters my sense that Sam needs to go to Arts camp, because he's gonna need a career where he doesn't have to read or write!

Ok. I'm done. And really really tired!