Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A "Good" Update

None of these photos from our summer vacation have anything to do with anything in these posts. They just make me smile.
Remember all that angst from the other day?

Baroy and I met yesterday morning with N's teacher about some behaviors (and peer responses) in class that we were worried about--some teasing, some work refusal, some things disappearing from his desk. It was a very productive meeting in which we were able to explain to his teacher, Mr. G, why trying to send N into another classroom with a note for that teacher--as a way to get N out of the classroom so Mr. G could tell the kids there to knock off egging him on with his silly behaviors--would never work. Still...he was trying to get N out of the room to tell the kids to knock it off. That's awesome. And next time, it will actually work, since we gave him much better options than sending our terrified-of-his-peers kid into a room of kids he doesn't know well.

But that's not why I'm writing. N's RSP teacher--who will be the leader on his IEP--joined us for the meeting, and afterward she and I and Baroy talked a bit more specifically about some of the learning issues he's having. Anyway, I asked her point-blank if she thought that he would have any trouble retaining services at all for next year, and she looked at me like I was insane. (Which is very good news, but always knocks me sideways a little.)

And then I said something about wanting to focus on reading, etc., and made a somewhat oblique reference to "and if that means we have to give up some of the current services..." and she stopped me DEAD and said, "I would STRONGLY recommend not giving up ANY of his current services for next year, especially as he moves into middle school. We're seeing such good progress, but he'll need the supports as he moves on."

So, um, yeah. That. Never mind?

(And thanks, you guys. All of you guys.)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

His Good, or the Greater Good?

(Let's pretend it hasn't been at least six months, OK? Let's pretend I was just here yesterday. And let's pretend I've updated you on everything that's happened. Which isn't much. Just regular life. Busy, busy, regular life. So...moving on...)

N during summer vacation trip to Morro Bay. It was cold. It was great.
N's triennial IEP will be at the end of November or the beginning of December, depending on when everyone can make it.

I have a lot of concerns about what the evaluations will find this time around; I have even more concerns about which independent evaluations we should pay for and do. I have concerns about his transition to middle school. I have concerns about my concerns. I could go on, but I won't.

What I wanted to talk about here, to ask you all about--you being everyone, whether you have special needs, have a special needs kid, or just have an opinion--is just one of those concerns. The one about what I would like N to have from his school and his district in a perfect world, versus what I really have the 'right' to ask for in this very much imperfect world.

In short: Our school district is dying. There have been meetings every week about the increase in class sizes, the huge number of teachers (relatively speaking; this is a small district) who will be laid off, the 20 fewer days of school kids will attend next year and the year after that. This isn't about special education; it's a full-out, wholesale bloodbath.

Now, back to N. There are services he gets that are absolutely essential. If anyone even starts to talk about taking them away, I am going to scratch their eyes out. There are services he's not getting that he needs, like a reading intervention that will actually work for him. In that perfect world I've talked about, I would ask for a private school, because the dedicated professionals in public school still haven't quite reached him; because he's a sixth grader who still works way too hard to decode, much less really read; because he keeps testing at a third-grade level because he cannot both read and comprehend what he's read, and he certainly can't read, comprehend, and then make whatever comprehension he's acquired into the shapes of written or typed words and letters.

Frankly, though, I can't even imagine asking. Not now, not in this environment.

In fact, I wonder about whether we oughtn't be offering to let some things go, rather than insisting on more and more. There are, after all, one or two services the school provides that are great for him but, in reality, are not drop-dead critical. Not essential. Or, rather, things we could provide for him by paying out-of-pocket, or by taking on a weekly copayment.

Nobody has said anything to me, yet, about reducing his services. They may try to do so at this IEP; they may try to do it in ways that I'll object to. But I wonder if it's maybe a little bit my civic duty to offer to take on the things that I as a parent am able to do, am able to pay for. It's clearly better for all his services to go through one portal, for all his providers to be connected and to talk to one another and to advocate on his behalf together. But if the kids in gen ed--including Em--are going to get screwed (and they are, there's no other way to describe it), is it my duty at all to try to lighten the burden where I can? Would I be doing a disservice to my kid? Am I doing a disservice by not insisting on a special private school? Am I doing a disservice by not dumping every dollar I have as well as those I can borrow into figuring out what really would be the best way to educate him and/or paying for that education? Is it possible to NOT do a disservice to my kid? Is it possible to do this "right"? Because if there is, just tell me how that's done. I'd give anything to know how to do the right thing.

Shit. I'd give anything to just know what the right thing is.