Sunday, February 21, 2010

#31 IEPs

We just got a notice from our son's teacher that she's preparing for his IEP meeting and wants to know what goals (social, academic, speech, OT, PT) we want to set for second grade. Frankly, I'm always baffled by these request. I sort of know what I would like to see but the specifics are really not in my specialty.

I'd like for him to be reading at grade level before the end of second grade (which is, I think, very realistic at this point and with this teacher), but beyond that, I'm not sure what sort of academic goals I would push. "At grade level" seems good to me, especially since this school district isn't slack in academics. I'd also want him spending more academic time in the typical classroom, as he becomes able to do so.

As for social, I want him stimming less at school, and I'd like that to be a measurable goal. Not sure how, but perhaps the teacher will have a better idea. But that is becoming a big barrier between him and his peers. They just don't know what to do when Jack starts spouting movie lines randomly.

OT, PT, and Speech are much more measurable. I want Jack's handwriting to be more controlled, his core strength to continue improving, and his receptive language and conversational reciprocity to improve. Also, I'd like the OT to work on sensory techniques to get Jack concentrating better in the typical classroom. She's had amazing success with my firstborn.
Then, there's the bus. Nick will be in fifth grade (the oldest grade on the bus), and I wonder if he would be enough of a supervisor for Jack to ride the regular bus. I am pretty sure one friend of mine thinks I'm being way too overprotective having Jack on the "special" bus as it is.

Anyway, to today's question: How specific are you with requests like this? Do you get detailed with goals, or do you feel comfortable with your teachers, intervention specialists, and therapists taking care of the specifics? I feel a very high level of trust with the school, but if I didn't, I'd be a lot more concerned.


Heather P. said...

Oh wow, this post couldn't have come at a *better* time! I have really been struggling with this lately. Our IEP meeting is coming up next week, and my daughter's teacher also mentioned that it's going to be a transition planning meeting as they are releasing her from the RECC program and sending her back to her home school to start Kindergarten in the fall. I know that's the ultimate goal, to send Linds back to the LRE, but I'll be honest, it scares me a little.

I'm not usually really specific about goals, I tend to let the team come up with a plan, but lately I've been wondering if that's a mistake. She has a great team and has grown so much in the past 2 years, but still, there's this growing, nagging voice in my head. Is it enough? Could she be doing more? Should we be expecting more? I just don't know and it kills me.

I also have reservations about sending her on the bus... LOL, okay, okay, I'm too controlling, I admit it! I like knowing for a fact that when she arrives at school she's being taken directly to her teachers/classmates. I just have this fear about letting her ride the bus... Will she know what she's supposed to do or where to go when it's time to get off? Will there be someone to greet her? Will she even stay in the seat? LOL

Sorry for the uber long comment... I'm just a liiiiiittle stressed. :)

Laura O'Donnell said...

My little guy is getting ready to turn 3 next month. Here in PA all services under age 3 are handled by Early Intervention and home based. Then at 3 home based services are shut off and he moves to the I. U., which is a 4 day per week year round school. We are right in the middle of evals and paperwork getting ready for this transition and with scheduling issues from all this crazy snow we've had this winter I think things are going to come right down to the wire.

As far as goals I have relied heavily on our speech therapist, special teacher, and OT for help with this. The teacher and speech therapist are both +20 years of concentrated work with autistic kids and I feel fortunate that we got set up with them. Specifically, for Willie, he's non verbal. The PECs have worked better for him than signing so while we're waiting/hoping for an actual word to come out I'm constantly thinking up new things to make a PEC for and doing things like putting preferred toys in clear plastic boxes with the PECs velcro-ed to the outside so that he has to ask for them with a PEC.

What was the question again? LOL!

JoLynn said...

First, let me say that I am impressed that your son's school asked you beforehand what your goals were. That is, in fact, how IEPs are supposed to be run. They are not supposed to have all the goals done before the meeting, although every IEP meeting I have ever attended as a teacher has.

I requested a meeting before the IEP meeting with my son's Early Child hood teacher, as I knew this IEP was going to determine where/if he went to Kindergarten. The new superintendent in this district is big on inclusion, but not as big on training the teachers for what that means. As a result, the structure of Kindergarten for kids with IEPs has been turned on its heels. They used to have a transitioning room for kids who were "off age" but not ready. They got rid of that.

So when I had my pre-IEP meeting, I took with me a teacher pal who has a LOT of knowledge with early childhood special ed. I find that, as a parent, I lose all sense of reality when I go it alone. She's also coming with me this week to Max's IEP meeting.

I asked for the data collected that spoke to his present goals. We spoke about the social goals on which he's making no progress. Academically and receptively, he seems to be holding his own. He showed evidence of more than I knew he could do, which made me quite happy. But he is not "ready" for the social demands of Kindergarten.

Going in to his IEP meeting, I am under the assumption that he will be placed in an "instructional" Kindergarten classroom and mainstreamed when possible throughout his day. Hopefully, his mainstremaing will be with an aide. I want him to have neurotypical peers as his modeling, as he will mimic the good, the bad, and the ugly.

So, academically, I trust the school in creating his goals, as long as they are grade-level goals. He is behind in expressive language, which can make many things look "behind." I don't want a "one size fits all" curriculum being thrust upon him ("this is what we use in special ed. classes"), as that negates the I in IEP, you know? That's a tough one to stand my ground on, but I shall.

Behaviorally, I really do not know what will be done through the school. I plan to do what I can to give him social opportunities, but I do not know how much they will take on in that area. Perhaps my questions will be answered on Thursday.

Barb Nelson said...

I'm catching up on some of your older posts, so expect a lot of comments from me today!

I go into my sons IEP meeting with some very specific, some moderately specific, and some really vague goals.

For example, one very specific goal I wanted for my son was for him to be able to recognize when he needs a sensory break and ASK for it. He just never seems to notice that he needs one - he's just not very self-aware in general.

As for a moderately specific goal, I wanted him to play with other children at recess. He loves recess, but tends to play by himself most of the time.

As for a vague goal, I wanted him to enjoy school. (It's not so much vague, just hard to measure.)

We have been very fortunate with his teacher this year. Our school does allow parents to "request" teachers. You don't always get your requests, but many parents take advantage of this opportunity. I didn't go so far as to request a teacher, but rather stated attributes of teachers that would work well with my son in his IEP. I'm hopeful that his current teacher and case manager choose a teacher that will be able to work with us and him next year.

Due to the fantastic teacher this year, a number of things I never would have considered have been added to my sons IEP. His teacher has suggested that he be kept with a core group of friends each year to help him build his social relationships. What a fabulous idea! (Have a mentioned that I love her?)

All in all, I love and hate the IEP process. I think I always find out a little more about my son at each one, but it's not always something I want to know.