Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Pre-IEP Preparation - Thinking Through Options

Technically, an IEP meeting needs to be held within 30 days of the evaluation. That means it should be take place before the 15th of this month. On top of that, I should have at least a 10 day notice about the meeting date. I should hear from someone this week regarding setting up the meeting.

Before I meet with anyone I need to figure out exactly what I want. I can't advocate for something if I don't have the specifics worked out clearly in my mind.

I'm also in an odd position of having been on both sides of this table. I worked as a certified SLP in the schools. I know how busy they are. I know that this first meeting will be the very beginning of a long relationship with people I hope to respect. I want these people to be active partners in my daughter's education. Ideally I want our relationship to be friendly and productive rather than adversarial.

And so, I want to push for enough services, but I don't want to be unreasonable. Many children with CAS need one-on-one therapy with their school therapist. However, I know that I am working with Ava one-on-one five nights a week and we pay for private therapy with a local expert twice a month. Also, as compared to many other children with CAS, Ava's motor planning problem is relatively mild. I don't think I am going to push for individual therapy time.

The other service options will probably include pull-out group therapy for a specified number of minutes a week, services provided in the schools special needs preschool classroom by that room's classroom teacher, push-in services by the SLP in that preschool classroom, or some combination of some or all of those services.

The biggest decision I need to make is whether I want her to go to the special-needs preschool classroom. If she does not, I'd still send her to that school in the fall. I would simply send her to the same preschool room Michael is in now. Her SLP would be able to pull her out of that room to provide small-group therapy, but she'd receive no extra services in the room. The advantage to this is that she'd be in the least restrictive environment surrounded by typically developing peers.

Alternately, in the special needs classroom, there would be fewer children and more adults. The adults are trained to facilitate communication, social interaction, and sensory integration. Ava would be enabled to participate fully rather than allowed to float around the edges. The teachers would have the time and training to listen to her and work to understand her conversation rather than simply say, "uh-huh" and move on when she's difficult to understand. At least, these are my hopes for the special-needs classroom.

I think I'm going to try to contact the school and that teacher and see if I can take Ava into the room for an hour or so to play before the IEP meeting so I can get a sense of the dynamics of the room, the other children attending, and how Ava fits in. I'll feel better about knowing what I want after that. Once I know what I want, I'll be able to plan more concretely for the IEP meeting.

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