Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Best Of...N's IEP

First, some quick housekeeping: I have yet to see my article in Time, since I cannot find a copy of it. It is supposedly in the issue that came out yesterday, which--for reasons I will never understand--has a January 28th cover date. It's NOT the issue with the voting-booth curtain on it, but I can't tell you what cover it IS, because, you know, see above. And the website still has the voting-booth cover. So, I don't know. It's the Ghost Issue of Time!

And now, on to the IEP.

So, it went well overall. I will be obsessing over some of the test results for a while, but until I've processed that part a little more, I'll save you from my thought processes. The overall results, however, are exactly what I started this process asking for: He's been 'accepted' into special ed on the basis of a speech and language delay in the area of pragmatics. He'll get twice-weekly speech therapy at school: one half-hour of group therapy, one half-hour of individual. And because he qualified under speech, that enabled OT to kick in some services too, though fairly minor. He'll get twice-MONTHLY occupational therapy sessions, a half an hour each.

When you get services in an IEP, they write up very specific goals. He has three goals for speech, all of which are pretty straightforward: incorporating appropriate plurals and tense forms into his speech; being able to retell an age-appropriate story in the correct order and being able to provide the salient details when asked; being able to 'fill in the blank' on a sentence (which is something he has a real problem doing, hence his continuing to do quite poorly on reading tests and other language-based tests).

In OT, he has only one goals, but it's such a broad, if-we-can-solve-this-we'll-have-totally-fixed-this-kid goal that it makes me laugh: "N will be able to participate in all tasks within his school day without getting upset, crying, or saying 'I don't want to do it,' in 4 of 5 school days, using sensory strategies as needed." I also love the '4 of 5 days' thing--as if that allows him to pick one day a week to just go to pieces.

There is also a nice long list of in-class accommodations that should help him in the interim; basically, they allow for him to come up with ways to deal with the anxiety that school produces (things like being allowed to stand up to do his work, taking away the time-pressure of tests whenever possible, giving him classroom tasks to do that involve being able to get out of his seat and do something physical) or to try to address some of his issues (finding him a peer buddy, giving him pencil grips and something called a chair band that he can hook his feet into).

So, it was generally all good.

If you're still with me, here are a few samples of what these various professions saw and heard in dealing with N:

From the School Psychologist's observations: "When another child approached the examiner, N stated, 'You guys, she's not here to talk to you guys. She's here to talk to me!'"

And again: "During an observation at recess, N remained at the table for 10 minutes eating his snack, lying down on the benches, sitting up, and lying down again. He did not interact with any of the other children at the table during the time now did he appear interested in watching the playground activity...He did not approach other children."

And again: "When tasks appeared more difficult, he would give up easily, demonstrate a short attention span, wander away from the desk, or state 'I'm too tired' or 'I don't like this book.' He required frequent breaks to maintain his attention, and incentives such as stickers also helped."

The one that really made me want to cry: "On one item, he completed 'It makes me sad...to not play with anybody.' When queried further about when and where he feels this way, N was nonresponsive."

The one that really made me laugh (and say 'Oy'): "When asked what he would do if given three wishes, he stated he wanted a gun, a bazooka, and a shotgun; when asked what he would do with the guns, he stated that he would shoot some bad guys." (She told me that she actually wondered at first if she should worry about this, but that he made it quite clear that he knew it was just pretend/playing.)

From the OT's in-class observations: "He was observed to transition back to his seat appropriately. N stood at his desk and twirled his hair with his pencil. Mrs. N was pointing out a student's good behavior and N said, 'What about me?'"

From the Speech Therapist's notes about testing: "I feel it important to note that my testing with N was done over three 20 min sessions. After 20 minutes, he would simply lose interest, and no amount of coaxing or bribery could get him back on task..." (That's my boy.)

From the Special Ed Teacher's notes about some of the individual tests he took: "Story Recall measures a student's ability to listen to a story and retell it back to the evaluator...It requires N to recall increasingly complex stories that are presented. He did not score since he said he didn't remember any of the stories presented to him." (This is not a typo; it's not that he didn't score well, but that he DID NOT SCORE AT ALL. He got a 0 on this part. Talk about 'showing the problem.')

From the Special Ed Teacher's classroom observation: "N was observed in the general education classroom in science. though he was attentive to the teacher, he was unable to fill in a science sheet. He became frustrated and started crying and pulling at his hair."

So, we'll see. I took the reports home to look them over before signing the IEP, but I'll be returning that in the next couple of days, since they can't initiate therapies before we agree to them on paper.

I'm hopeful that he's now going to be getting at least some of the help he needs. There are academic issues that aren't being addressed here, but that's stuff I can help with, and stuff that the general ed teacher is supposed to help with, so I'm OK with that for now. I'm OK with it all--even all the fighting it took to get here. I'm just sad that it was required in the first place. And I wonder what happens to the kids whose parents can't--or don't know to--fight this hard and this long.


Meg said...

On the article, I thought I heard that Time now comes out with a new issue on Fridays, so that may be when it shows up. Hope so.

For N, does the IEP include any resource room time or educational extra help? Is the 0 on story recall due to anxiety or unwillingness to participate or can he simply not explain what he hears? If the latter, doesn't that suggest some sort of hearing or processing disorder that the school is ignoring? Is he able to read (at or near grade level) a story and explain the story he read? If speech is like it is in our school, it is only about pronoucing words not about understanding them. It does sound like a great start, but be careful before you sign the IEP that it addresses all of the issues found.

po said...

Not to freak you out (more), but the story recall, combined with the word order displacement you've mentioned, just screams processing disorder to me. And that creates a learning disability, that will have a greater and greater impact down the road (it REALLY hits hard in fourth grade, we discovered :( ). You're in the system, and that was crucial at this point, but I'm very sorry to say that continued vigilance is required. Lots of hugs!!

Green said...

See I hate how everything is so in the box. If N can EVER tell you something that happened and you can extrapolate (sp?) a story, then you know he's capable. Maybe the stories they told him didn't interest him. Maybe if he were told to act them out he could do it, or draw what happened instead of speaking. Yes, its still a problem that he can't spit it out verbally, but at least then everyone would know he's got an alternate method of communication.

BTW, I used to go to vision therapy for my crappy eyesight and one of the things I had to do was put cards with pictures in the right order - a sunrise/sunset, a horse jumping over a fence, a boy fishing, a house being painted.

I hope, especially for the therapy that is only twice a month, they'll give you things to do with N at home.

Ambre said...

LOL, is there an echo in here? I swear Meg and Po are repeating our phone call, and all of the things you didn't want me to tell you but I told you anyway ;)

So my recommendation was to request a revisit of the academics later. I know you don't believe me when I say these processing issues are gonna rear their ugly heads in academics, but 2nd grade is a huge jump in the requirement to go from abstract/concrete and back again. So taking a story and abstracting it, and taking a summary and coming up with concrete examples will be crucial. I think I described it as having a comfortable relationship with language, both written and oral.