Monday, April 27, 2009

I am an Invested Parent

So they called me an invested parent.

Not sure if this is social worker speak for a royal pain in the you know what. Choose your own appropriate noun here.

We met for an hour and a half. Jupiter's teacher was not present because it was school vacation week, so it was me and the caseworker and the lady who did the developmental eval. The CDS caseworker is already in the process of writing an IEP for school in the fall. I gave her my eight pages of notes and advised her those were the concerns that I would like to see addressed in the IEP.

Jupiter is going to get two hours a week of specialized instruction to work on her social skills ( to enable her to get another childs attention by means other than throwing a toy over the divider at them), to resolve conflicts, and to tolerate a change in her routine. The kicker on this one is its a service they only provide during the school year. Which ends in June. So I'm not sure we're going to get more than three weeks of this specialized instruction. But, if nothing else, it will be on the record as being given for kindergarten so she can continue to have social skills assistance in kindergarten.

We're also being sent to the pedicatric neuropsychologist. If I were to try to get this evaluation independently, it would be very expensive and there would be a year waiting list to get in. There are sometimes drawbacks to living in a rural state. Even with the CDS referral, it's still a 2-3 month wait. So we're looking at late June or July for that. The caseworker says she can't include the fact that we're waiting for reccomendations from the neuropsychologist in the official IEP. I have no qualms about sharing that at kindergarten screening. The neuropsychologist will try to determine the lasting effects of early deprivation on Jupiter's emotional development.

Wednesday I have a meeting with the teacher in charge of kindergarten screening. (who happens to be the teacher I had for kindergarten way back in 1977. Which was way long ago. Ask Jupiter. Anytime she sees anything remotely antique she says "That must be from the 1970's, that's so old!" Thanks for that. There are also benefits to living in a rural state.) I need to determine the best way to get the right teacher for Jupiter. There has been a slight change in how they're assigning the kindergarten teachers this year. Otherwise known as, we have a new principal. Who wants to be personally involved in the assigning. Who I am afraid, if I go in and ask to NOT have a certain teacher who will not be a good fit, will not particularly care about that. So far, my request is phrased as:
Jupiter will benefit from having an approachable, nurturing teacher who
regularly demonstrates to Jupiter that she likes her. Jupiter will
recognize and be made anxious by negative facial expressions or tone of voice,
so will do best with a teacher who is positive and appears happy. A
teacher who frequently raises her voice will not be a good fit. She will
do best with a teacher who recognizes that Jupiter's needs may differ depending
on the day and situation, and is able to be accordingly flexible."
I know MOST of the teachers are well aware that Jupiter will need extra support and are willing to work with her needs. I also need to find out about accomdations for screening. Jupiter will do fine with screening. As long as she actually goes into the room. Getting her into the room will be the hard part.

So now I'm waiting for the caseworker to mail me more stuff to sign. I suggested that it would be okay if she faxed me the forms and I could sign them and fax them back. She's leery of that because of the confidentiality issue. Even though I assured her that I am literally in charge of all five fax machines and I sit all day and wait for faxes. Maybe if I write her a note and fax it to her :)


Diana said...

I'm glad things are finally starting to move in a positive direction for you! It sounds like you're off to a good start.

Here's a few things I've learned over the past year about IEP's (pretty much all from trial and error, by the way.)

1. Way to go on submitting your stuff. No one knows your daughter better than you do. My submission on my son 14 pages. It used to be 8, but everything was so crammed on there, I spread it out. My last teacher meeting went like this..."You read this section and then you may ask questions. Ok, now we'll move onto the next section...and so forth." That way I KNOW they read it.

2. The teacher is legally required to be present at the IEP meeting. If the teacher chooses not to be there, or "those in charge" decide to proceed with the meeting without her, those who make those decisions are in violation of federal laws. Should you need to down the road, you can use this as leverage. :-)

3. If you haven't already done so, load your battle guns by doing some research on your state's special education laws. Believe me, educators know the laws - and they know every loophole there is in them - and they are banking on the fact that you don't. When you can start spouting facts off intelligently with them, they will be much less inclined to jerk you around.

4. You as the parent are an equal IEP team member to all the case workers and teachers. As such, you have the right to call an IEP meeting at any time during the year. Once you get your neuropsych eval done, you can call a meeting and make necessary changes at that point.

5. I would go in and be forthright with your principal about your daughter's needs. What you specified for teacher needs is perfectly appropriate and shouldn't be difficult at all for the school to accomodate. Getting the principal on board from the start is one of the best things you can do to help your daughter! We ended up having to change teachers in Feb of this year for my DS because the teacher he originally had was causing so many problems...and it was the principal's decision to do that.

6. The principal (generally) is also legally obligated to be at IEP meetings acting as the LEA - can't remember what that acronymn stands for, but it has something to do with them being the lead educator over the school. If they weren't at the formla IEP meeting, they are in violation of another federal law.

7. This isn't IEP related, but social skills related. Check to see if there are any community resources available during the summer for teaching social skills. We're hoping to be able to do this at least for our youngest DS this summer. Very often you'll find these through crisis prevention, respite, or abuse recovery programs. You may also be able to find them through the early intervention programs.

Lisa said...

Diana had fabulous information! Amen to everything she said....