IEP Year Four

Today was the second meeting for next year’s IEP.

As any special-needs parent can tell you, any IEP meeting tends to be stressful – the goal of an IEP is to ensure that your child has the necessary supports to learn, and the supports and therapies that go into the document govern where your child is going to go to school in the coming year.

And the one thing that was apparent, coming into this year’s IEP review, is that Mount Washington is not the right placement for the Monster. Continue reading

How Was Your Day?

IEPThis is based on a conversation I was having on Twitter last night with another parent of a child with Autism.

The Monster’s only partially verbal – he can communicate his basic needs (“Eat!”, “Drink!”, “Go to sleep!”) but he’s not very good at a narrative of what’s going on in his life.  In some ways, I’d joke it’s like living with a teenager a couple of years early (“How was your day?” “Fine.” “What did you learn at school today?” “Nothing.”), but without the ability to really get useful information from follow-up questions.

One of the most useful things that we had added to the Monster’s IEP is a communication requirement. Continue reading

Getting Away

The wife and I are actually going on vacation soon.

I’ve commented before that it’s important to find time as a couple to actually be a couple – we spend so much time (especially at this time of year, with IEP meetings and placement discussions) doing things for the kids that it’s easy to go for days without acting like there was a time where we were young and in love and actually married…

And in the time since the last time we got away, we’ve forgotten what an undertaking it is. Continue reading

The Monster Turns Seven

Monster at the PlaygroundSo we’re at the end of another year, and the Monster’s seventh birthday was yesterday.

Like the last two years, we’ve celebrated with cupcakes and the like, with no real decision when/if we’re going to throw a party for him.  It’s hard to decide to do the party thing when he really doesn’t have any friends – he’s not invited to any of the other children’s birthday parties from his class at school, and we don’t really know any of the other parents in the class, despite my wife being the class parent.  We’ll probably do some family thing over Memorial Day weekend again, since that’s a convenient time for my family to come down. Continue reading

To the Rest of My Child’s IEP Team

IEPIt’s the end of another school year, and here we are, going over the Monster’s IEP yet again, evaluating which goals he succeeded at meeting, which ones he made progress on, and which ones are abject failures.

I know it’s really hard to squeeze out time to make these meetings work.  He’s one child out of twenty-five in his general education class, and heaven knows how many other schools his specialists get to during the day.  His IEP chairperson’s time is split between two different schools, and the meeting protocols require having an administrator and school psychologist present as well.  Further, someone from the central office has to come as an education/placement consultant, and since we’re discussing changing placement next year, there’s also the problem of having someone from that program at the meeting…

And being part of an IEP team can be a very thankless job. Continue reading

Snip Snip

Like a lot of children on the spectrum, the Monster has his sensory issues.  We’ve had problems with the fact that he’s sometimes sensory seeking, but there’s a lot of problems that have been creeping in where he’s sensory adverse.  The biggest problem has been dealing with mechanized fans of all kinds.  He dislikes his ceiling fan running, and can’t stand blowers of any kind in restrooms.  (It’s why I often comment on where one can find bathrooms without blowers when we’re out and about.)

But another spot that’s been giving us trouble – getting him a haircut has been… hairy. Continue reading

… For the Weak

I know a lot of parents of children with ASD who have issues with their kids sleeping.

Now, I’ve frequently mentioned how the Monster is awful about sleeping when it comes to going away.  Our suspicion is that he’s just wired to get up at some point in the middle of the night – the fact that no one shares a room with him lets him do whatever, and he gets himself back into bed after that for some more sleep.  (When we’re in a hotel room, it’s absolutely awful because nothing we can do – melatonin, Benadryl, nothing – keeps him out for the entire night.)

Continue reading

Make Time

One of the best pieces of advice I give to parents new to the world of being a “special needs parent” is a question I was asked the first time I attended the Dads Talk group at the Arc Baltimore:

What do you do for fun, for yourself?

It’s not so easy, when we’re in this boat.  We feel a need to keep track of our kids, and our days are filled with trips to therapy, with dealing with our children’s foibles.  And while we might say that we do things “for ourselves”, that often includes running to the gym at a weird hour, early morning walks, or the occasional date night when you get respite or find a sitter who can deal with your kiddo.

But that’s not really what I’m talking about.  Because while I love going out with my wife – to the theater, to the movies, or other things around – it’s not necessarily “for me”.  And that’s where, as parents, we fail ourselves. Continue reading

Play Time!

Like many children with Autism, the Monster has difficulties with playing with other children.

The problem isn’t necessarily a matter of his want to play with other kids – it’s his ability to communicate the want to do it and then to sustain the interactions.  He’s had a social goal in this past year’s IEP of play with other children, but most of the time, this has required adult interaction to keep him involved in a game of any sort. Continue reading

Speaking “Monster”

As we’re preparing for an IEP meeting at some point in the near future, the thing that keeps jumping out at us is the need for an environment where they can intensively work on his communication skills.

Now, it’s never been a secret that the Monster has issues with communication – R, his younger brother by four years, speaks in nearly complete sentences on a regular basis, while the Monster speaks in fixed snippets most of the time.  He can read letters, and he can make out some sight words, but he’s hardly “reading”, and he’s not really speaking on anything approaching an appropriate age-level.  And half the time… it’s a guessing game. Continue reading