The Daughter Chronicles

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Mia's IEP meeting

I've been meaning to post about Mia's latest IEP (Individualized Education Program for the uninitiated) meeting for a few days, but it kept slipping my mind. Hers was this past Tuesday, when we all get together to discuss her school progress and set goals for the next year.

Everything went swimmingly, as everyone involved gets along and the teachers aren't antagonistic toward us and we're not angry with them. Each person goes over her goals and whether she reached them or not and what they think is realistic for the next year. This year, naturally, her physical skills have regressed a bit, thanks to her hip surgery. She's been out of commission since January, basically, and even though she's recently been doing more PT, she's still way behind where she was. But even there, she's doing better - she stands more willingly each time she tries it, which is nice. We doubt that she will be really ready to stand and walk until July, when her doctor removes the metal plates in her legs. The plates are really uncomfortable, from what we can tell, so we don't think she's going to be ready to do much before then.

Her speech therapist and her teachers are very happy with her progress in that area, however. She's saying a lot more spontaneous things, like complimenting her fellow students when they accomplish something (the extent of it is "Good job, _____!" but it's still spontaneous and not modeling on someone else) and she's putting more and more words together. They're working on rudimentary addition skills and getting her to recognize the difference between "more" and "less." She's doing a fine job in the regular class - she had a bit of a behavior problem last year, mostly because she was so excited she would disturb the class, but this year she's much better and she talks to a lot of the other kids, who of course adore her. She's moving up next year to first grade, which should be nice.

The only real problem that came out of the meeting was where she would be next year. Her teacher called me a few weeks ago to tell me that because of the budget problems in the state, they were getting rid of her specific special needs class. At the school, there are two different classes. Mia's class has five kids in it, and one is graduating to junior high next year. In the other class, there are eight kids, and three of them are leaving. Her teacher doesn't have seniority, so she has to be reassigned, and the current plan is for Mia and her class to be blended with the other one. No one thinks this is a good plan. The kids next door are, for the most part, more severely disabled than Mia and her classmates are. They are largely non-verbal, for instance. Mia has made so much progress this year because her classmates are very verbal, so it forces her to talk more. We all fear that if she's in a class where everyone has communication devices and she doesn't hear a lot of speech from kids her own age, she will regress. There's also the problem with the number of kids. They anticipate that the class will have at least ten and possibly eleven kids in it. It's not a very big room, and they need aides for the kids, so I'm sure it will become obvious very soon that they need to ... split the classes, like they are now. Sheesh. The state is having a lot of financial problems, of course, but one of the first places they always cut is special needs funding, both in education and in therapy. Hey, those crippled kids can't speak for themselves, right, and they don't contribute anything to society, so why shouldn't we cut all they get? We have expressed our displeasure with this probable arrangement to the head of special education, and soon I'm going to visit a couple of other programs that might be better suited for her. It's very annoying - her current teacher is very knowledgeable about traumatic brain injuries, and it would be nice for Mia to have some continuity in her education, mainly because it takes her so long to get used to something. By the time she's learned the names of her teachers and aides, it's almost the end of the school year. When she changes teachers every year, it's tough.

The actual IEP was fine. We set goals for next year and discussed where she was heading with her education and therapy. We'll have to find out where she'll be next year. Unfortunately, that's one thing that's not settled.


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