It’s the only word that I have to describe Eli’s IEP meeting last week. I wanted so badly to add it to a “Happy This Week” post but just couldn’t find the time!
Thursday afternoon we had Eli’s annual IEP meeting. His teacher, interventionist, OT, Speech therapist and principal were there along with myself, my honey and Eli’s worry doctor. First, let me say just how wonderful it was to have the worry doctor there. He is incredibly knowledgeable in working with children with anxiety so he gets Eli and understands a variety of ways to help him. He knows IDEA and ADA inside and out and recognizes how to work with schools to make accommodations to meet the child’s needs and the verbage of the laws. He brought a lot of great ideas to the table that will, hopefully, make 3rd grade a wonderful year for Eli. Second, let me add that I love the people that we work with at this school. I have had some issues with Eli’s teacher this year, only because I don’t think she truly understands him, nor has she taking the time to understand him. I love, Love, LOVE his interventionist, OT and ST though. We’ve had the same OT and ST since kindergarten and they are two of the most amazing women. Eli has pushed them outside of their normal routines… I’ll get into that in a bit ;) The principal is so easy to talk to and so understanding. I feel like I can approach her with anything and have done so in the past. She is no different in the middle of an IEP meeting.
We started the meeting just updating everyone on changes in Eli recently and talking a lot about the IOWA testing that was grueling, to say the least, for all parties involved. The therapists updated us on some new things they are working on. Eli’s OT has been working on teaching him typing skills since writing is so very hard for him. My second grader is learning to type! Added bonus that the typing is strengthening his hands and his writing is beginning to improve :) The OT is so thrilled with the results that she’s going to start doing typing with kids at a lot younger age than she used to because of Eli’s amazing results. The speech therapist updated us on some of the social stories that she is using with Eli and shared that Eli is now having to come up with some solutions to the stories on his own. He really is growing. The interventionist shared the results of some recent testing that was done with Eli. My son is reading 132 words/minute and has a similar comprehension level when asked the “right” questions. I don’t think I can read that fast! I wanted to cry and run out and hug his private OT who recommended the neuro-optometrist who recommended the vision therapy we did with Eli. Obviously it paid off and he is now able to read at the level his brain is ready for. Everyone shared that Eli is also starting to read with more inflection and emotion when reading out loud. He has always read in a very monotone voice and read very quickly. He is starting to slow down so that others can understand him and actually follow the emotion and punctuation using changes in his voice.
Then to the goals. Only one for next year. It sounds so simple to have only one. But what a big one that is. A combined communication and social goal. Multiple strategies listed below to help us accomplish this seemingly lofty idea. Lots of social stories, lots of social groupings to practice.
On to services. Only a little clarification needed regarding OT services. Otherwise pretty status quo until accommodations. This is where the worry doctor really stepped up. We talked a lot about Eli’s testing anxiety and how to help him be able to show that he knows all of his math facts without having to take a ridiculous math test in 2 minutes. I remember doing that and it sucked! Eli has to do it, gets stuck on one problem and then perseverates on the amount of time he has left – so much so that he doesn’t complete the test after the one problem that he had to stop and think about. The worry doctor had some amazing ideas about how to help Eli through this and still meet the state standards for testing. There was a lot of talk about what teacher he would have next year so that this would not be an issue. We got stuck a little on wording in the IEP so that Eli was covered and no one would have to do extra paperwork. The discussion was fantastic, everyone had an opportunity to speak and give their opinion. State standards were discussed along with Eli’s needs in a very positive way. My heart swelled knowing just how much these professionals care about my child.
We moved through the rest of the IEP without glitch, mostly. The interventionist made a joke about not worrying about transition to junior high as we still had plenty of time for that. I lost it. I know my honey was secretly laughing at my own anxieties. Thankfully, our team recognized that we needed to discuss the issue and not just brush over it. We had a great discussion about his transition to junior high (in 3 years!). At the end of the discussion the principal winked at me and asked if I’d like her to write me a social story. It was a lovely, heartfelt moment. She recognized how worried I am about that change and I know that she will help us to see it through.
We left the meeting feeling very fortunate and very cared for. We know that not all IEP meetings go this smoothly. I know personally from reading your stories that many IEP meetings do not go this well. We smiled knowing that somehow we were granted this amazing group of people who truly care about the welfare of the children they teach and care for each day. We smiled knowing that we have an excellent plan in place to help meet Eli’s needs and to help him excel where he is most talented. We smiled knowing that many of these same people will move on with him to third grade.
This fall we will meet a new teacher and we will invite her to be a full member of Eli’s team as we have with all teachers and interventionists in the past. We hope that he or she will accept the honor of becoming a part of one of the best teams around.