It DOES Get Easier

This year was our fifth time through the IEP process… and it actually does get easier, when your child’s in the right placement.

I know that’s not something you usually hear a parent say, but the proof is in the pudding.  Going into our third year in the non-public placement, we’re finally seeing the Monster starting to make good progress against the prior year’s IEP goals. Continue reading

I got drink juice

The Monster's Talker, July 2016Yesterday was the assistive technology training session for the Monster’s support team at Gateway.

Well, it was the training session for the educational team and my wife.  Since the Monster’s still quarantined at home due to hand-foot-and-mouth, he had to stay home with me and R, rather than all of us being at school to learn how to use the “talker”.  But the important take-away from it is that everything’s in place to see if this helps him with communicating his thoughts, wants and needs. Continue reading

When It Works Properly

IEPWe had the Monster’s latest IEP meeting yesterday.

To be fair, the meeting wasn’t a full IEP review – it was to evaluate his progress since the IEP was approved, to go over the assistive technology assessment, and to review a request by us to have the Monster retained in the second grade.  But the phrase “IEP Meeting” usually strikes such fear into the hearts of the parents of children with special needs, and…

Well, some times, the process works the way it should. Continue reading

Communication Matters

Monster with his communication bookUnderstanding what the Monster wants or needs usually’s harder than it looks.

He’s not bad about expressing the basics of his needs, most of the time.  He’ll use single words – “eat”, “drink”, “bed” – which usually expresses the gist of what he’s looking for… but getting to the specifics, and to a format that others’ll understand, is another matter.

And at eight years old, this is really starting to become a problem. Continue reading

Better Than Expected

I’ve entirely forgotten to talk about something important – the Monster’s annual IEP review.  I mean, I talked about the prep meeting, and then entirely dropped the subject.

Most parents of special needs kids that I talk to, talk about how horrible the annual process is.  To be honest, ours has usually been just a tedious process, until last year’s huge drag-down, knock-down fights.  So anything’d be an improvement, right?

Right. Continue reading

Has It Been A Year?!

IEPTomorrow is the Monster’s annual IEP meeting.

Now, I know it’s not been “a year” since his last IEP, since we agreed on the IEP that sent him to Gateway at the end of July.  Still, his annual IEP has always been March-to-March, and in spite of how long last year’s took… it’s that time of year again.

But I’m feeling good about tomorrow. Continue reading


Part of going to school is the quarterly progress report.

Our experience with the public schools has been somewhat hit-or-miss when it comes to the actual progress reports – public schools, at least here in Baltimore, have what seems like a weird system to me until you’re in third grade.  You don’t get “real” grades (A-E/F), but rather some thing that gives an idea of how you’re making progress.  But, as a special-education student, the Monster has been getting that report along with an IEP progress report, and the latter has not been particularly useful.

That’s not how it works at Gateway, though.
Continue reading

Doing the Rounds – The Non-Public Side

Having decided that the only public placements that we were aware of were not likely to be the right placement for the Monster, barring a program existing of which we had not heard, we decided to do our due diligence and go to see some of the non-public placements that might well be offered for our son.  The major issue, in our minds, was the fact that the summer was rapidly coming to an end – several of the private schools that are known for their work with children with Autism go on vacation during August, and there are processes that need to be followed to put a child into such a place.

But the question really was where to look… and we quickly decided to go with the most likely non-public schools that the city would send the Monster to – HASA’s Gateway School and the Shafer Center. Continue reading

Doing the Rounds – The Public Side

I’ve decided to start going back over the things that I couldn’t discuss while we were going through the IEP process, and talking about them as they occur to me to write them… so some of these things, over the next few weeks, might seem like they’re coming a bit out of right field.

When we were a few weeks into the school year, and it started becoming apparent that a mainstreamed classroom at Mount Washington wasn’t the right placement for the Monster, we started considering our options.  The Temporary Adult Support (TAS) helped to some extent, but it was clear that what the Monster needed really was to be moved to another placement. Continue reading