On Tuesday, Jan. 18th, SEPTAP will focus their general meeting "Writing Effective IEPs". 6:30-9:30, Beverly Cleary School. Highly recommend anyone with kidlets entering into K this fall to try to attend or at least to touch base with a parent who has been through a few IEP's. 'Cause, folks, I could have used it myself when I was sitting down with the crew to write up the first one for Isaac.
Not that it was such a bad thing. We were surrounded by so much great feedback, such enthusiasm for Isaac's mainstreaming into a typical class at Sabin, and they were saying everything we wanted to hear. "He'll do great, with just a little direction. He will just need an aide for the first few weeks, just for the transition. There should be no problems at all. We will discuss all of this with his new teacher weeks before he actually starts." Like a virgin being deflowered, we were hearing all of the stuff we needed to hear to get us to cave in with a smile.
And so it started. Within 4 months of starting in K, things got rough. And you all know the story. 4 schools in two years. An expulsion hearing. A stint at Pioneer.
It made me sit down, with 20/20 hindsight, and ask what we missed. What we missed was so f*cking huge as to be an embarrassment.
First: we allowed Isaac to attend a school (our neighborhood school, which is Sabin and has a growing good reputation and engaged parent population) that lacked any real special ed program. What it had was one person in a K-8 program who specialized in reading problems in typical kids. And she tried to get him discontinued from spending time with her because, I realize, she was not equipped to handle an ASD (or much else, for that matter). When problems started to arise, the school was not able to handle it.
Second: we were not fully informed of options. I did not even know about CB programs until his K teacher mentioned them, 5 months into the school year. CB programs are offered at some, but not all or most, of schools, and are equipped to handle issues as they arise and even recognize them before hitting boiling point. And, good luck finding info regarding these classes through PPS. They don't easily offer up info, but dammit, if I had pursued options in that first IEP meeting, there would be no way I would have let Isaac attend a school without one.
Third: I was too easy giving up my game face in that first IEP meeting. We both wanted to hear that Isaac was a star, that he was going to do fine. I did not ask "What will we do if things go wrong? What is our plan?"
IEP's are chock full of details, broken down into so many minutes of this or that shall be given per month to whatever. WHATEVER! Main question I will ask regarding O's first IEP is this: What are her support systems? Who will be there to catch her when she stumbles and I am not there?