Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Individual Education Plan Meeting and the Homeschooling Mother

Melissa Wiley just attended her son's first IEP meeting in order to obtain speech therapy for him. It's a scary thing to sign the paper which puts your child in the pipeline of public education, but we must remember that we are consumers of bits of the system, and we take their suggestions into consideration, and accept them according to our own judgement. It can be difficult, and we need to support one another when self-doubt sets in.
Christina, age 4 who has Down Syndrome was in the system since birth, and I have signed so many IEPs I lost count. I've had 5 therapists coming to the house,for 4 years, which can be quite invasive, as they are eyeballing the cleanliness of the house, and how busy the older girls look while they are there(look busy girls!)Last year, the IEP committee, combined with these therapists, bullied me into putting Christina in a special needs pre-school. I looked for a local school with a short day (2.5 hours)and she had a very caring young teacher. However, a year later, her test results showed no increase in progress compared with home,and the school officials refused to let me meet next year's teacher, so I went with my mommy instincts and withdrew her from school. Now, once again, the therapists come to the home, but this time, two of them have been badgering me to put Christina in kindergarten next year. Sigh. That's why it was so good to read about your self-assurance as a homeschooling Mom of a special needs child. We need to organize a support group, like NAATHAN.What do you think, readers? Is there a need here?

10 comments:

Willa said...

Hi Leticia --
Our school district has been very low-pressure about my special needs son age 7. I think part of it is that they don't really have accomodations for delayed children and so it would be difficult for them to meet his IEP needs in a school setting. However, I've been where you are in the past -- when he transitioned from Early Intervention there was lots of pressure and it made me doubt myself even though I had homeschooled for several years and he was my sixth child.

Leticia said...

You did? I feel better, then!
Our school district just cut 2 special ed teachers due to austerity budget(they deserve it, they lost 2 million dollars last year and wanted to hike our taxes 29%; I already pay nearly $8,000)
Anyway, the classes are small, but one only has an aide, so it wasn't the district that was pressuring me as much as the individual therapists, day by day as they saw her in my home. She also displays a lot of avoidance behaviors, giving them more reason to push for school, however, when she was in school, they didn't say much except, in March they said,"she's attending better", meaning she's finally sitting down and participating instead of whining to leave by the door!
It's so hard to trust strangers when your child is less verbal!
I've learned to trust my instincts rather than their advice, but I still doubt myself at times.

Lissa said...

Leticia, very good to hear from you. I think you've had a great idea and am definitely interested in talking more about it.

jennifer said...

I'm here, I'm home, and I have no plans to enroll my almost-4-year-old with DS. We homeschool our other children and I want to do the same with Avery, unless something convinces me otherwise. So far, home is the right place for us...

dani said...

I enrolled my youngest, Quinn (seven this year in July), for speech therapy this year. Let me just say that it has been quite an experience.

I think the therapist is learning right along with Quinn. *smile*

Leticia said...

Christina had a speech therapist who insisted she enter a pre-school despite my expressed wish to homeschool. Some teachers can't give up the school model.
Most of her therapists, thankfully, have become more flexible to meet her need to learn with less structure. In that sense, she is teaching them.

Leticia said...

Christina had a speech therapist who insisted she enter a pre-school despite my expressed wish to homeschool. Some teachers can't give up the school model.
Most of her therapists, thankfully, have become more flexible to meet her need to learn with less structure. In that sense, she is teaching them.

Leticia said...

Christina had a speech therapist who insisted she enter a pre-school despite my expressed wish to homeschool. Some teachers can't give up the school model.
Most of her therapists, thankfully, have become more flexible to meet her need to learn with less structure. In that sense, she is teaching them.

MatureMomG said...

Hi!
I have a dd, 3, who has Down Syndrome. She is my 7th living child, 3 others are still at home (and homeschooled).
You mentioned pressure to put your dd into school.
So tell them all to go fly a kite!

YOU YOU YOU are the parent.
YOU YOU YOU are the expert on your dd.
If YOU YOU YOU believe school is the best place for her, put her there.
If YOU YOU YOU believe school is the best place for her 3 hours a week, MAKE them work with you.
YOU YOU YOU are the authority and in charge.

You may consider their input, but YOU decide what is best for your dd.
In Minnesota, they are required to provide services in the home for the first three years. We have had very nice people who come and work with my dd. But at 3, she must "go to school" for those services (or we can pay for private, or get none). They are more than happy to come get her on the bus, etc. Yeah, SURE! My 3 yo, who in reality is more like an 18-24 month old!
What we have done (rather sporadically I might add) is take her twice a month to school for therapies, etc. Time in between (15-30 minutes usually) she gets to be in the special ed classroom (we are with her all the time- usually me and another sibling). And how they LOVE her. And how GREAT it is that she is interacting with the other kids..... Like DUHHHH...
And how great school is for her. They play games and nada nada nada!
For phooey! I strongly suspect we will not be going much. What they do is fine and nice and dandy, but no big deal.
Example: for speech they will have some toy or game and make her imitate sounds before she gets the toy. For physical therpay they have her go up and down steps. Occupational thereapy is stringing beads.
ALL of ths kind of stuff we do at home, ALL day long, just naturally as in REALLEARNING!

Rosemary (whose hearing is fine) knows about 100 signs (thank you Signing Times). AND she can READ. I kid you not. She doesn't talk at all ready, using words, but we discovered she can READ. She will sign a word correctly when presented with no picture, just letters, on a card. (Again, thank you SIgning Time vidoes AND Love and Learning.) She started reading at 2.
Now, in her "preschool" her teachers know a few signs, but they don't do reaading or anything like that.
At home, we just naturally tailor what we do with her to her needs and ability. Right now, we working (beginning to work) on dressing and undressing. I don't need a special doll with buttons and zippers. We have CLOTHES! I don't need an occupational therapist to help her learn- we have KIDS!
Now, there IS a time and place for the therapists and possibly even school. I think, for us, speech may be the biggest thing, and we may well utilize the school for that. though what she is getting at this point is not very impressive. She DID have an excellent speech therapist over the summer- a retired lady with 40 years experience including working with kdis with DS. The first day she asked me to tell her about Rosemary adn I'm talking away and mentioned she could read (she was only 2) and the lady (in her mind) is like "Yeah, sure..." Then later, she witnessed Rosemary reading and was flabbergasted! "She's a genius! What are you doing with her??" Well, she IS smart, but the reading is just repetition. (Which IS impressive, but not necessarily genius.) Anyway, we may hire this lady privately to come and do speech.
Another thing with the school I have found is that they are overwhelmed and overburdened. They cannot give the time and effort to each child (and a PLAN for each child) as they deserve. And they need to spend time on paperwork... I know Rosemary's speech therapists are planning what to do with her as they walk down to the classroom. They have IEPs and all that, but they don't have the time to devote to a good plan.

Anyway, my posts tend to be long winded!
YOU do what YOU (and your dh) think is best.
Just because someone has letters after their name does NOT mean they know what is best for your dd. YOU do. more than anyone!

Leticia said...

Well said, my new friend!