IEP. Three little letters that drive me bat shit crazy. For those of you are unfamiliar with what an IEP is, it is an Individualized Education Program that is mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Here is a brief snip it from Wikipedia. If you want more detailed info then please click the highlighted “wikipedia” word.
“An IEP defines the individualized objectives of a child who has been found with a disability, as defined by federal regulations. The IEP is intended to help children reach educational goals more easily than they otherwise would. In all cases the IEP must be tailored to the individual student’s needs as identified by the IEP evaluation process, and must especially help teachers and related service providers (such as paraprofessional educators) understand the student’s disability and how the disability affects the learning process.”
Sounds awesome right? Sigh….let me explain how this shit works. Once a year WK’s School District, Private School
(remember Non Public School aka NPS) and our Private Therapy Team get together to see how much progress WK has made for the school year, what goals need to be established for him for the next year oh and where he should go to school. Every year. On the dot, in May I get to sit in a room with the following people:
Public School: Principal, Autism Specialist, General Ed Teacher, Special Ed Teacher, School Psych, School Speech Therapist and sometimes and Independently contracted Occupational Therapist
Special Ed Private School (NPS): Administrator, Special Ed Teacher, Speech Therapist
Private Team (aka the people WK sees after school and that we pay a LOT LOT LOT of money to): Occupational Therapist, Social Skills Director, Speech Therapist and our Special Ed Attorney
Are your eyes hurting yet? That would be 15 people in a conference room if you include me too. FUCK. I always enjoy these meetings (NOT!) because I love hearing from the Public School Team who 1. has never met WK and 2. hasn’t seen him on their campus for the past 3 years, tell me all about him. They tell me what he isn’t capable of, where they think he should go to school, provide goals on how best to work with him educationally. Oh the list can go on and on but I think you get the point, yes? It’s a bunch of strangers trying to tell me what would work best for my kid. It’s not that they are bad people but the system makes no sense. How can you have strangers tell you what is best for your kid?
By law the School District needs to offer us a FAPE (Fair And Appropriate Education). If I feel their offer (aka public school) isn’t appropriate then I have the right to fight for what I think is BEST for my WK.
We always start off our meetings going around the room introducing everyone. Then I make a little intro on how WK’s year has been. Then the real fun begins. Every year WK takes this test to determine where he is at grade level wise on all subjects like Oral Language, Math, Reading Comprehension, etc. FYI I opt him out of the State testing as he is so far behind there is no point. My kid aint making the honor roll…… So this year he grew in all areas except one, Reading Comprehension. GREAT news! FUCK. Not so fast. Then I looked at the top of the page only to find out that he is at Grade Level 1.3 for Oral Language. As a reminder he is in 5th grade.
So we go over each goal for this past year (which was 16 goals for 2014/2015 school year) and discuss how WK did. Did he meet that goal? Did he not? If not, why not. If so, super duper.
Goals. So what type of goals go into an IEP? They could be anything from speech goals, to social/emotional goals, to unpacking/packing a backpack independently. Here is an example of one of WK’s goals (reminder he had 16 different types of these this year and more than 20 for next year) UGH!
Area of Need: Social/Emotional – Sportsmanship
Baseline: WK is able to use good sportsmanship in 65% of instances over a two week period. When WK
gets frustrated when he loses a game or gets out, he will begin to blame others, point fingers, or begin to tell
others what to do.
Annual Measurable Goal # 12
By May 2016, during breaks and recess, WK will engage in a structured game with other classmates using good sportsmanship (i.e., encouraging teammates, following rules, and maintaining personal space) in 85% of observed instances over a two week period, as measured by teacher goal charting.
By October 2015, during breaks and recess, WK will engage in a structured game with other classmates using good
sportsmanship (i.e., encouraging teammates, following rules, and maintaining personal space) in 75% of observed
instances over a two week period, as measured by teacher goal charting.
By February 2016, during breaks and recesses WK will engage in a structured game with other classmates using
good sportsmanship (i.e., encouraging teammates, following rules, and maintain personal space) in 80% of observed instances over a two week period, as measured by teacher goal charting.
Strategies to Meet the Goal:
● Social Skills Lessons & Activities
● Review of rules to structured game he is playing
● Behavior Chart that focuses on reinforcement of being a good sport (good sport is defined as not yelling,
crying, pushing or dropping to the ground when he loses a game or gets out ).
After we painfully go through every single goal from last year and then the upcoming year, the 2-3 hour meeting is adjourned. Sometimes we can’t get everything covered so we need to have a Part II. FUN FUN FUN! Usually this consists of me saying FUCK about 25 times, sometimes crying though I am MUCH better at keeping my emotions in check now that I have been doing this for 7 years (since the age of 3). The whole process is quite exhausting and very overwhelming because I am responsible for gathering the following:
1. Updated progress reports and goals for the current school year from WK’s current school
2. New goals for the next school year from WK’s current school
3. Updated progress reports from WK’s Occupational Therapist, Social Skills Director and Speech & Language Therapist
4. New goals for the next school year from the above 3 mentioned folks
Yep that’s about 10 different reports I need to read, make notes on and then respond with my feedback, their feedback, everyones feedback. It NEVER gets done in advance, always gets completed at the last minute (like literally this shit is due tomorrow AM to the School District and we are still trying to pull it all together at 930pm before a holiday weekend.
IEP’s have typically been a very complicated and painful process for me because it is always a very harsh reminder of how far behind WK is academically, how “different” he is that he needs goals to learn how to pack his backpack correctly, how it’s hard for him to get through the day. But the BEST part of this process is that I also get to see how much progress he has made in other areas like he does have some friends now, he can play recess appropriately (for the most part), and that he always LOVES going to his school.
They have an extra day off for the Memorial Day holiday and he is pissed! Nagging me ALL night to call his Teacher and have her upload their new spelling sort for next week to his iPad App so that he can start practicing this weekend. Gotta love my Warrior Kid! Onwards we go…….