So the appointment is made – Friday at two in the afternoon. That’s when my wife and I are going over to the Monster’s school to talk to his IEP coordinator (and likely the principal) about our issues with the program.
Now, let me be clear about something. I’m not in a position where I think this program is horrifyingly letting my child down. This is not about my coming in to demand massive, extraordinary changes in his program for the sake of how I envision it should be.
Rather, this is my attempt to get things back to meeting both the letter and spirit of the Monster’s IEP, shy of my demanding an IEP review.
As I mentioned in another post, there is a requirement in the IEP for regular communication via a contact log. My primary issue is that we get little contact from the staff at his school, aside from the occasional written note from his general educator about a problem in class or the like. Most of our communications are limited to typical pre-K notices about projects, trips and the like, and don’t go into the challenges and successes in his school day. And as I mentioned in that prior post, I wrote what I felt was a fair, if angry, email to the IEP coordinator, demanding a team meeting to discuss my concerns.
After that letter, she called the house and spoke to my wife. In this call, she expressed several concerns, least of which are that we’re “lucky” to have such a good staff working with our child, that they’re “lucky” to have some of them at their school, and that some of his resources are not really school employees over whom she has little control. The general gist that I got from this conversation is that she feels that it’s a “burden”, perhaps, to have our son’s therapists spending a bit to keep us up to date.
Pardon my language, but I’m calling bullshit on that.
My child’s therapists better damned well have time to write me notes to tell me what they’re doing with him.
My child’s therapists, doubtless, want my child to succeed, to grow, to adapt to the challenges that Autism puts in front of him. They want him to build the skills that he needs to get by independently in the real world – and the school should be invested in the goal of getting him to that point so that they do not have to give him those supports anymore. The only way we’re going to accomplish this is by acting as a team – of us reinforcing what they’re doing at school – to give him continuous practice with these skills until they are second nature. Anything short of this is shooting the Monster in the foot.
I’m not asking for daily or even weekly dissertations. I’m asking for regular status reports: “Today we worked on two-step un-related instructions, like “take out your lunch and go to the table”. [The Monster] was following them 60% of the time. We are also going to be working on “May I X, please” questions.” “This week, we are working on the proper way to hold a pencil when writing.” I’m asking for the most basic information that would let me know what to be modeling at home and what to be having him do when he gets home from school or over weekends.
And you know what? Not giving me updates? That’s going to guarantee that a) I insist on reopening my child’s IEP to add in an explicit reporting requirement involving quality and frequency, b) I will be coming to the school weekly to get photocopies of the therapists’ reports, and c) I will be pushing for even more services next year when we have our update. Seriously.
I am handing my child over to the schools for eight hours a day to see him progressing academically and developmentally. I have a right to not have to ‘trust’ that they’ll do their jobs and that “everything will be alright”.