Monday, September 26, 2011

SpEd Determination Meeting

We had our first "official" meeting in the IEP process.  It wasn't the first meeting with his team, in fact, I think it is the third time we have met. (not to mention the many shorter, individual, communications over the weeks)

Anxiety chased away sleep most of the night.  Thankfully, my mom picked up Zora after school for an "Oma Day" so Zach could come with me to the meeting. I felt like the meeting went well and the testing results were reasonably accurate. (I would argue with some of it, but the things I would argue, they noted that the there were circumstances that probably affected testing, so I didn't argue too much.  There are bigger hills to climb)

I wasn't surprised that he didn't qualify for physical therapy.  (PT)  He is borderline, and he has always almost qualified, but not quite.  He has lower tone, but not low enough, he has poor coordination, but not quite poor enough, etc.  The areas he has problems with have been addressed, over the years, with OT, and his biggest weaknesses are related to sensory issues.

Now, from my perspective, it is a waiting game.  From their perspective, a whole lot of work.  He will be getting services from an SLP, OT, and a resource room.  I know he is also getting literacy interventions, which I think come from another person (not the SpEd teacher in the resource room), and they are going to try to incorporate some social skills training. I brought up the idea of peer training, and was met with general agreement that it would be beneficial, but figuring out how to fund it (because you work with non-disabled students) is a problem in some districts (coming from the county person, not the site/school side), but that they would discuss how it could be implemented.  I was left with the impression that they agree and it is a matter of figuring out how to make it work.  There are even a handful of students that immediately came to mind as good candidates for peer training. Considering the typically developing peers are going to be interacting with Autistic people all of their lives, it is an important social skill for them too.

Overall, I am still impressed with this district.  They have given every indication of being the kind of district that should be held up as an example of HOW TO DO THIS.  They aren't a specialty school, nor do they have a large district, and yet they seem to really understand and they are what you hope all educators are:  caring, passionate, smart, and possessing common sense and decency, and, so far, it appears to be pretty across the board.  It kind of restores your faith in humanity.

And, finally, after watching this week's episode of "Parenthood" (they are mainstreaming Max in a public school), and knowing that is a more typical experience, I am even more thankful for the people we have around us now.  I have identified with that storyline quite a bit, but this week I could, thankfully, see more that was different.  It reinforced my belief that success for an Autistic person, who, by definition, struggles with social interactions, is determined largely by the reaction of their teachers and peers.  It doesn't matter how hard our kids work at learning the rules of social engagement if the people on the other side of the equation, regardless of age or occupation, lack compassion, emotional intelligence, or patience; true success is only accomplished when BOTH sides work at it.

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