Friday, May 14, 2010

IEP Meeting Coming Up! Yikes!

For my readers without special needs kids. An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is essentially the contract between the school district and the parents on what goals we need to help the child work toward and what resources would be given to meet those goals. Either the school or the parents can initiate the IEP meeting if either party feels new goals and services should be added. Otherwise, everyone meets annually toward the end of the school year to develop the plan for the next school year.

When you first get into the special needs world, the school district gives you a brochure about the IEP process. It stressed that the parents are an equal partner in the process. I remember picturing a room full of people amicably discussing what the child's needs are and laying out the best plan of action to address the needs. The way I imagined it, everyone one was supportive and helpful.

The reality can be quite different, especially in these tight economic times. Last year, we had to endure two IEP meetings at the school where my daughter attended public preschool. This school was not our home school, and my daughter was only attending their preschool for less than one academic year. The first IEP meeting we went to really caught me off-guard. We had already had our initial IEP meeting at the district level and that meeting went fairly well. Everyone was pretty congenial, and the meeting went fairly close to how I imagined it would. It still was a horribly painful meeting. At its best, it's awful to talk about how your child is falling short in areas and needs extra help.

Now, the IEP meetings at my daughter's public preschool were pretty awful. At the first meeting, we were trying to get speech services and occupational therapy (OT) for our daughter. The school had done assessments in these two areas and were arguing that the assessments showed that our daughter didn't need services in these areas. Her speech assessment did show above age-level vocabulary and sentence construction, but horrible conversation skills. Nevertheless, they told us services weren't provided for conversational skills and denied her services. We did get these services through an appeal process called Informal Dispute Resolution (IDR). I'm still confused why we just weren't granted the services to begin with and were essentially lied to.

The OT assessment didn't show any shortcomings period, so no services were granted. The school personnel first attacked the independent psychologist's assessment that we paid for which recommended some OT. They argued that the psychologist couldn't possibly know our daughter better than they did. Next, they implied that we should get our daughter to a medical doctor to address our concerns. This implied that they were suggesting medicating our daughter so she could attend to classroom instruction better. It was just an awful experience.

So, we're having an IEP meeting at my daughter's home school this coming Monday. This meeting will be to determine what services she'll need for the first grade. We love this school and have been actively involved with the school, but it will be the first time we'll have an IEP meeting here. We know, and are on good terms with, the teachers and professionals who will be at the meeting. I think they really "get" and appreciate both my daughter's strengths and weaknesses. So, I'm very hopeful the meeting will be constructive and successful and hopefully more respectful than it was at the other school.

Nevertheless, I'm a nervous wreck about it! Send good thoughts!

19 comments:

  1. my eldest son had iep's at a public school last year that were very stressful and made us feel like awful parents. i wanted to cry the entire time..he had learning disabilities and had to fail 2nd last year...this year in a new school district he did amazingly well and there really isn't any issues of major concern now...

    which is good since all my time is devoted to the son next in line that has PDD/nos now. we have had 2 iep's for him so far. This school was less stressful in the meetings but they seem to talk in circles and one hour goes by so quickly and all they do is talk about insignificant things. I never feel fulfilled after the meetings and nothing gets done.

    hope your meetings are successful and not too stressful.

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  2. Keep us posted on how it goes. I am dreading out upcoming IEP.

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  3. Oh, I really hope it goes well for you! It's awful that these things can sometimes become a battleground, when everyone should be working in the child's best interests.

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  4. Prayers. Our IEP will be coming soon. Kindergarten IEP was good for us even though Cabe's original teacher was a bear. Cabe would not talk to her and she would make it the Caleb show ever time he acted out. She never believed me that he had a wonderful vocabulary and was grasping what was going on in class. I thought they would take her word that he was "below average" in every catagory. But because he was assessed by different people for every category of his abilities it was shown it was his learning style and dislike for the teacher that caused a lot of the misunderstandings in class. As every assessor came forward and said he scored above average I did cry. It was like I was finally validated for my insistence that the potential was there if we could just tap it.

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  5. Good luck and best wishes are being sent from my little corner of the world.

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  6. My son's first IEP meeting will be coming up soon. I'm nervous about it. It will be for preschool coming up in August. I'm nervous because he is non-verbal and doesn't interact with people. I'm afraid they'll want to do crazy things like want to get him medicated. I hope your second IEP will go better!

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  7. Good Luck....My daughter is up for her 3 year evals and meeting is May 24th....I have a pretty good relationship with the school.....but still feel like they don't Totally get it and am actually looking towards out placement...which is going to be a fight because academically my child is often off the charts....but the social emotional piece for her is HUGE and I think the school thinks they are doing more for her than they can....

    I also know that even when the meetings go " well "...its draining emotionally...so I hope that at least it does go well for you and you don't have the added stress of feeling like your not being heard or validated...

    Good Luck...My daughter is supposed to be going to middle school next year....so I been doing it a while and can totally relate....

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  8. sending my good vibes through my finger tips! I hope the meeting goes well. Stinks that you were traumatized by the other school. I'll be looking forward to the update.

    Also, I do not have a special needs kid and I appreciate becoming enlightened about special needs life through you. Thank you for the knowledge and the different perspective.

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  9. I know I already commented on this post, but I came by to wish you a happy SITS Saturday! :)

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  10. Breathe, be prepared and know that YOU are in charge!

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  11. Thanks for stopping by and saying hello! Love meeting new people. Have a great weekend!

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  12. Oh, Mama! You need an advocate! Do a google search for a special ed advocate or IEP advocate in your area. If you're in a rural area, dig deep and go big. I used to supervise a SpecEd program...believe you me, sista, advocates are on your side! The school has no business telling you anything but the facutal results, what they can offer and how they'll be offering it. Good luck.

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  13. take a deep breath...

    sending you light halfway round the world :) i can only imagine what it's like. arent schools supposed to have the child's best interest at heart and work with the parents?

    *hugs*

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  14. It was good for me to read this post because it helps me to understand what my son and his wife are going through in regards to their sweet little daughter who is also in special education. They also become very concerned about these IEP meetings. You have helped me more to understand what they are going through.

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  15. Oh, good luck! I hope everything goes well and you don't have to fight to get your daughter the services she needs. If it comes to that though, it sounds like she's a lucky little girl to have you in her corner. I'm wishing you all the best!

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  16. GOOD LUCK!
    I went through the process a couple summers ago when I was a nanny in Colorado. But we ended up taking Jake out of private school and found the most amazing class in the public school district...small class size, individual attention, and teachers who CARED...I think that's actually the most important part!
    Turned out good for us, and I'm sure it will for you!!

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  17. Good luck with this. Sounds like you are a strong cookie to be handed such challenges.

    Thanks for dropping by my blog. Always great to hear from blog friends.

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  18. What a nightmare! I hate that you have to jump through hoops to get things done. Sending tons of positive thoughts that it all works out!

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