I went into the IEP meeting ready to “lay down the law!” I had all of my notes, questions, email print-outs, and work samples with me. The first thing we discussed was a recent issue that happened in the cafeteria with a student taking some of Mj’s lunch. We already had an issue with this a year ago and I was told that there would be “more supervision.” They seem to think that just because Mj can open his own milk carton and feed himself that he doesn’t need as much supervision as some of the other students. Anyway, I digress…We began going through the IEP and I insisted that they add a goal for his social communication. The goal that they had was something about him raising his hand in class?! That was definitely not a strong goal so I had them add one regarding Mj initiating conversation with his peers. We then discussed some issues that we had regarding HW that was being sent home that was way above his comprehension level. All it serves to do is frustrate MJ, which then frustrates me, which then frustrates my husband…and so on and so on. The ESE specialist and his teacher, agreed that it would not happen again. Due to MJ’s age, they began to talk about his transition out of high school. They started talking about a possible vocational/job training program and that’s when it happened. I felt the tears coming on and said, “Oh my God, I think I’m gonna cry.” By the time I said it, the tears were already flowing. I was not prepared to hear about any of the programs and to think about what Mj’s life would look like after high school. I thought I had another year before they would begin discussing these things. I tried to wipe my tears, get myself together and continue looking at my notes but it didn’t help. The entire meeting from that moment on was me listening as they talked about the various programs that may be a good fit for MJ. I listened intently and took as many notes as I could about each and every program. Then they mentioned the need for my husband and me to get a lawyer to begin looking up guardianship. She followed that with a statement about how expensive it was to get that done. It was all just too much. I managed to ask additional questions and read through the IEP but all I could think about was… What is going to happen to MJ after high school? What are we going to do? Will he transition well? Will he get into any of these programs? Will transportation be safe? What job is right for MJ? The questions in my mind have not stopped since this meeting.
We. Have. A. Lot. Of. Work. To. Do.
MJ’s IEP meeting is coming up in a few weeks. Now that he’s 15, the IEP meetings are different and he can now be included during the actual meeting. Nothing much has changed in terms of his current teacher.
She still does not communicate.
She still sends home homework that she￼ neither looks at or grades.
She still sends homework that is completely inappropriate for his comprehension level and oftentimes has no clear instructions😡.
She is one of three teachers at his high school that teach the special needs kids that are in a self-contained classroom. I tried getting him switched to another room at the beginning of the school year and was told, “we tried, but that room is the best placement for him because he is considered higher functioning etc.” Still, Mj is happy and enjoys going to school. He has many friends in that classroom and most of them travel with him to the same aftercare. I really don’t want to take him away from his friends and familiarity of his school and environment. ￼￼￼￼ I am both dreading and looking forward to this meeting. All of these issues must be readdressed and resolved￼￼.
MJ deserves better than what he is currently receiving academically. ￼￼
I will post an update after his meeting.
Thanks for reading.
MJs IEP meeting was just this past week! No matter how many of these I attend, It’s still very difficult to hear about all of your child’s “areas of need,” before they get to his progress. It is still difficult for us to sit and listen to it all. Earlier last month I received a draft of the IEP that I immediately took to work to have a friend look at for me. She is an ESE specialist and is familiar with what happens in high school. As I write this, I honestly cannot believe that MJ will be going to high school next year! It seems as though I was just writing the same thing about him going to middle school! I have the same emotions. I’m nervous, excited, scared, and at the same time hopeful! MJ did so well in middle school and I’m anticipating the same for high school. I had to fill out a school choice form for him to be able to attend the high school that we wanted. I still have to wait another month to find out if it’s approved. I know two other autism moms that have their children at the school and they both love the program and speak highly of the teachers so I’m really praying that we get that school. One concern for me during the IEP meeting was that they wanted to decrease his speech therapy from 90 minutes to 60 minutes. Excuseeeee me! I immediately asked why they wanted to do that and no one could answer me! His speech therapist wasn’t even at the meeting! She had a fill-in instead and this person had never seen MJ for a therapy session. I looked at everyone as though they had five heads and told them, “absolutely not!” I had to keep my composure to make sure that “Nicky from the 305” did not make an appearance! I told them to change it back to 90 minutes, as speech is one of the main things that we know he needs to work on. He still has much better receptive language than expressive language. I’m still baffled by that horrible suggestion. One positive take away was how much better his hand writing has gotten since entering middle school. The occupational therapist was able to show me something that he recently wrote. You can see it below. All in all, the meeting was productive. Once I get approval on the high school, we will all be visiting there to tour the school and meet the teachers. But for now I have to get my mind and spirit ready for the fact that it’shappening…I will soon have a high schooler.
Working in the school system for over 17 years has offered me the opportunity to see many things. Unfortunately, one of those things has been the lack of parental involvement in the IEP process. I never understood why parents would allow others to make decisions about their child without their knowledge or input. Whatever you do, you must attend ALL IEP meetings. If the date scheduled is not good for you…reschedule it. If transportation is an issue…then attend the meeting over the phone. Also be sure to fully read the final IEP. I’ve found several mistakes on MJ’s IEPs over the years.
MJ’s IEP meeting was yesterday. I am so happy to report that I had no reason to be as nervous as I was! The ESE specialist, his teacher, speech therapist, and occupational therapist were all in attendance. They had nothing but great things to say about his progress. It was just that….PROGRESS! They were able to compare where he was last year to where he is now. I didn’t have to raise my voice or quote some line from the “parents rights” handbook. I expressed everything that I wanted in his IEP and there were no hassles at all. We were in agreement with his goals for the year, his speech time and OT time. MJ is transitioning to middle school and as I have stated before, I am
nervous terrified about this “new start”. I have taught middle school for over 16 years. I realize that I am probably more nervous than the “normal” parent. I see how mean kids can be EVERY DAY. I have prevented several autistic students from being bullied in the hallways. Who do you think I am thinking about every time it happens? MJ, MJ, MJ! How can I make sure he is in an environment where he is safe and protected from potential bullies? For me and my husband, safety is number 1; education is number 2. I have done my research on private schools that are accessible within my area. One school was so pathetic. As I took a tour of the school I noticed that the students were seated but not working. I mean they didn’t even have a book, paper, or a pencil on their desks! I walked into 6 classrooms and only 1 teacher was actively teaching. It was horrible. The worst thing is that this is a private school for kids with autism! I was so disappointed after that visit. I visited another school and in comparison they weren’t too bad but the principal had a difficult time answering my questions and contradicted himself several times. I researched public schools and asked a close friend about one particular public school. Based on her recommendation I visited the school. It was great. I had the opportunity to sit in the classrooms and observe the teachers. I met the ESE specialist, speech therapist and the teacher’s aide. All of my questions were answered and I felt comfortable when I left. We have decided that we will be placing him in that public school. All I can do now is prepare him as best as I can for this transition. I will have to make sure that he tours the school, meets his teacher, and knows where his classroom is before school starts. Other than that I will be praying for his protection while he makes this transition into middle school life…Lord help me!
Picture courtesy of Pinterest
I have been attending IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meetings for MJ since he was 3 years old. He is now 10 and I have to admit that I still get nervous and stressed before every meeting (no matter how many books I read about it). I still get a little “jab in the heart” as they go down the list of goals he hasn’t met, tests he is supposed to take, and where he is developmentally compared to other peers of his age. Sometimes I am not even sure that I want my husband to attend because I know it will affect him more than it affects me. I actually need a glass of wine after every meeting! One year I was told that MJ would take the big standardized test, the CRCT (Georgia’s state test at the time). I was upset that he even had to go through taking that test when WE ALL KNEW that he would not be able to read, comprehend, and answer all of the questions on the test! I assumed that he would at least have the questions or passages read to him in order for him to try and answer the questions. Well I was wrong! I was told that because MJ could read, they would not read anything to him at all! At that time yes, MJ was able to read but that was all it was. He was sounding out words. He was not able to put those words together and comprehend long sentences or passages! After lots of “angry mommy” emails and phone calls I was finally told that he would be taking a modified version of the test. I wasn’t happy but at least the test was shortened a bit. Here in Florida my son takes a different type of test. The current test is not the usual paper-pencil based test. The teacher uses many manipulatives in order to test him in various subject areas. They also ask him questions and have him answer orally etc. I am in the process of coming up with speech and OT goals that I want him to work on next school year (Dear God help me…he is going to middle school). I am praying for good news and lots of progress. If anyone has any tips or suggestions for IEP meetings I would love to hear it!