During my meeting with N's teacher today, she told me about how pleased she was with his advances since he's begun the OT social skills group. She mentioned, as an example, about how when one of the boys in the class was giving N a hard time the other day, instead of putting his hands over his face, shouting "No, no, no, no, no," crying, and/or essentially shutting down completely, he instead wrote a note to the teacher to say, "I am mad at K. I don't like what he did." And, later, she said she heard him tell K, "I don't think I want to play with you any more today," instead of just hiding himself away from everyone on the playground during recess.
During my meeting with N's teacher today, we agreed that this was huge, and wonderful, and a perfect example of why he needs this group so much, and how much good it will do him to stay in it.
After my meeting with N's teacher today, all I could think was, "What the...??? What did K do to him? Are kids already picking on him? Why doesn't he tell me about this sort of thing? I'm gonna kill the little fucker who picked on him..."
During my meeting with N's teacher today, we talked about how hard it is to pin down a diagnosis, a label, even a good idea of what his learning differences ARE so that they can be addressed. I was asking her for guidance. I wanted her to tell me, from what she's seen, which avenue I should be pursuing when it comes to further evaluations for N. She agrees that it's likely his speech therapist will dismiss him soon, probably at the next yearly IEP, next January, and that we need to come up with something else that will qualify him for special ed, and she's not quite sure what that is. But she did tell me that she'd recently spoken about N with the school's principal, and that there may be a way in through an ILP, Individualized Learning Program, if he does as poorly on the statewide testing as we assume he will. Apparently, an ILP flags a kid as 'at risk' of being 'left behind,' and normally would prompt an IEP. Of course, since N already HAS an IEP, it might instead prompt a reevaluation of that IEP, since the low test scores would indicate that the IEP is not optimally effective quite yet.
(Clear as mud?)
During my meeting with N's teacher today, I was feeling optimistic about that idea, hoping that it might provide a way in to a more appropriate special ed placement than having him in speech therapy as a way to get him occupational therapy.
After my meeting with N's teacher today, I again began to think, "What the...??? Why have I never heard of an ILP before? How does it work with an IEP? Will it help me at all? Have any of my special ed Twitter posse a clue about all this?" (The answer to that last one: No. Which makes me suspicious. And there's almost nothing I can find about it on Google, either. Which makes me even MORE suspicious. Though I have no idea what I'm suspicious OF.)
During my meeting with N's teacher today, when--as I mentioned above--we were discussing the difficulty in pinning down just what we're dealing with with N, I told the teacher how I've always thought it would be so much easier to advocate for him if I could just know what the root of the problem is. Is it anxiety? ADHD? A learning difference that causes anxiety and/or ADHD? She agreed with me, but couldn't shed any further light on it. "In my 16 years of teaching," she said, "I've not come across a child exactly like him. I can see pieces of him in other students who had easily definable problems, but not enough to say that any one of those things is IT."
During my meeting with N's teacher today, I felt an absurd swelling of pride when I heard that. I think we all like to think that our child is special, unique, one-of-a-kind.
After my meeting with N's teacher today, every time I thought of that same statement, I wanted to cry. One-of-a-kind began to feel like needle-in-a-haystack. Unique began to feel like unknowable. The emphasis on special began to give way to an emphasis on needs...needs I don't know how to fill.
During my meeting with N's teacher today, I felt hopeful. If nothing else, he has some pretty amazing people on his side, as evidenced by how much this teacher cares about him.
After my meeting with N's teacher today, I'm finding that hope a lot harder to sustain. I just don't know if having amazing people on his side will be enough, if none of them have any answers.