Towards Deeper Water

The assessment meeting finally took place this morning.

Now, setting aside that the rep from Early Learning included a FAPE meeting as part of the discussion on the “miss” of the 90 day rule, the meeting was essentially what we had expected – a discussion of the assessments that were ordered in December, coupled with placement discussions for next year and the decision on ESY services for this summer.

Fortunately, there were no “surprises” today with new documentation – I’d pre-warned the wife that any such games by the interim IEP coordinator would entail my walking out of the meeting after asserting our rights, and calling an attorney.  I’m glad it didn’t come to that.  The assessments were also fairly straight forward, given that we’ve had a few weeks to go over most of them, and we asked a few questions here and there about the methodology behind them.  (We were harshest on the psychologist, who only observed the Monster once, for thirty minutes, on the first day back from Winter Break… though I do give him credit for getting to it and getting the assessment done PDQ.)

The one shock today was finding out that the Monster’s actually been attending the “morning meeting” in a standard kindergarten class for a few weeks now, and is both participating appropriately and self-regulating his need for stimulation.  Neither of these are behaviors that we see at home, but I was willing to grant that children behave differently at home and school, and that they may well be seeing things that we don’t.  (Ms. A, his usual teacher, offered to send us some of the video she’s doing on a weekly basis in class, so we can see how he’s doing away from us… and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that offer.)

So the basic gist of the conversation is that they’re going to adjust his services slightly.  The push-in SLP hasn’t done him very much good, the discussion went, so we removed it and went with just the pull-out services he’s been receiving.  OT is left at the prior level, as is the rest of his educational supports… and he’s going to be returned to a typical first-grade class in his home school next year.

I’m torn about the idea of putting him into a standard first-grade class.  On one hand, I definitely want him mainstreamed and as soon as possible, but on the other, we’re talking about taking him from a class of 12 children with four adults to a class of 24 children with generally one adult.  I’m concerned that we’re throwing him into the deep end of the pool without a life jacket or making sure he can tread water long enough for someone to get to him.

And then came the discussion on ESY.

Before the regular IEP coordinator had gone off on maternity leave, we’d discussed ESY, and she’d put down in her notes that she felt he qualified, moreso since he’d had it last year and it seemed to help.  The early learning rep, on the other hand… is adamantly opposed to ESY eligibility for him.  She feels that the progress he is making is sufficient, but not of a nature that shows recently emerging or breakthrough skills, and that he’s not shown a tendency to regress without the structure, and that none of the skills he’s learning now are “critical life skills” (even when it was pointed out that his toilet training is a goal on the IEP and that he’s not fully proficient at it yet).  Her major argument: he’ll have about an hour a day prescribed of special ed once the new plan starts… and ESY is five hours per day, so he “clearly” doesn’t need it.  I think we’re going to arrange a meeting with our regular coordinator when she’s back from maternity leave, or otherwise figure out how to appeal that part of the IEP when it comes.

One way or the other, though… apparently we’re on our way towards the deeper end of the pool…

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