Friday, August 27, 2010

I've Died and Gone to IEP Heaven

I had CJ's IEP yesterday. He's a transfer student, so it had to happen pretty early in the school year. I went in ready for a huge fight and gearing up to come away black and blue from beating my head into a brick wall. I even had Kristi, CJ's old DeafEd. teacher with me on speaker phone.

They listened intently to Kristi's input. They took interest in my concerns. They took lots of notes. Then it happened. They came to the part of the meeting where they tell me everything they were prepared to offer him. You have to remember that he was dismissed from all speech services because his articulation was too good. He was offered only 45 minutes a week of services with Kristi because "we know he hears us". OT services were continually denied because "we know he has sensory integration needs, but it's not academically necessary for us to address them". With all that in mind, I was prepared to hear a whole lot of hot air and be frustrated. In the past, I've even had Kristi telling the district what CJ needed and it still was shot down.

"We never dismiss our Deaf students from speech. He'll be working on everything from articulation to auditory training on a regular basis. He will have regular access to our speech teacher, who's office is right across the hall from his classroom. We will provide him with a new FM system, and will replace it every three years for him. We will provide his teacher with training and tools to better prepare her to teach CJ. We will be teaching him 25 new signs per quarter, and we will work to have them be signs that go with new vocabulary he's learning in class. We will be getting all classroom vocabulary in advance and work with him on processing their meanings. We will be offering him extended school year, during which time he will receive further auditory training, extra vocabulary, and anything else he'll need to prepare him for the following school year. Lastly, we will be evaluating him and prepared to provide him with the OT services needed to help him with his sensory processing issues".
Yep. All of that. I didn't have to beg, plea, cry, throw things, threaten, or stand on the table screaming. They just offered it. In the words of Kristi, I've died and gone to IEP Heaven.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Liam's New School

Liam and me at the local zoo this past weekend. He was more interested in the animals than looking at the camera.

We haven't had Liam's IFSP yet, but all of his testing is done. Before we moved here, we learned about a school in our area. I did a little research into our options and agreed that the site closest to us would be a good place to send him to, but wanted to be sure we checked it out first. It's the same place CJ went to get his testing and educational recommendations, which our school district will be honoring and implementing.
When we visited, we spoke with the director and asked lots of questions. There are some things about it I'm not 100% sure about, but nothing that counts as a deal breaker for us. The school is oral only, and I believe in signing with all my children. They assured me that we could still sign with him, but not at school. That seems fair enough.
Liam will be receiving a lot of amazing services at the school. They are:
*all audiology services until three years of age including aids, testing, ear molds, critter clips, etc.
*seeing his own audiologist at the center 90 minutes a month
*one on one instruction with an educator of the Deaf
*a teacher to follow him around making sure his hearing aids stay in (a HUGE problem for us)
*speech services
*auditory training
*possible continuing services at the same school when he turns three paid for by our school district if it's deemed necessary for him (which it more than likely will be)
We'll be starting out with him going just two mornings a week and then move up to three mornings a week as soon as he's ready and shows compliance. I'm hoping that's before Christmas. I really believe this will be the best thing for him.
It's so vastly different from the way we did ECI in Texas. We were so happy there, and I was pleased with the progress he was making in most areas. Making the decision to do things this way once we got here was a hard one, but I think will have the most positive outcome. He'll still be having some services at home through the state early intervention program. He'll have an OT that comes to work on his oral sensory issues, a speech teacher, a teacher of the Deaf to teach him sign language, and a dietician to follow his eating habits. All in all, a very good plan for him...I think.

Friday, August 20, 2010

School Has Started!

First day of school pictures. He's so proud of his Toy Story clothes, backpack, and lunchbox.
One of the scariest parts of moving when you have a kid under the special ed. umbrella is the fact that you always have to wonder if the new school district will be able to meet your child's needs as well as the old one did. Then there's the part of you that hopes that the new district will be even better than the old district was.
It seems that we may have hit the jackpot and managed to get CJ into a system that is more equipped and prepared for children like him. What luck!!! After a conversation I had today with his soon-to-be Deaf Ed. teacher, I am really breathing easy.

I walked in to drop him off on the first day of school and mentioned to his teacher that he hadn't been ARDed yet, so there was no FM system ordered for him. "Not a problem. They're coming today to bring him an FM." Wow!! Many of you may remember the battle we had when CJ started Head Start and the FM was nowhere to be found...for weeks!
In addition to that, his teacher made a point to call me ahead of time and seek out my input regarding what he'd need in the classroom. She admits that she's never taught a Deaf student before. I let her know that was fine. I've never parented a Deaf child before CJ, either, but we seem to be doing okay so far. She seems very opened to learning how to work with CJ and insure success for him.
As we were talking, I described some of his wacky sensory issues. "Why hasn't he had an OT working with him?". "Well, our last school said it wasn't academically necessary". "Okay, we'll have the OT and the PT come observe him and decide what they think." Really?? Services being offered (even suggested!) without a fight?? Someone pinch me.
Today I got a call from his Deaf Ed. teacher. She is already on the job with him. She went and visited with him today, provided his teacher with lots of valuable information, set him up with his FM, ordered his IEP meeting, and made contact with me to inquire about what we'd be needing for him. Again, WOW!!!
We took CJ to the oral Deaf school in the area right when we moved here so he could be tested. They found a few issues with him.
*He is developing a lispy sound when he tries to say [s]
*His expressive skills outweigh his receptive, so he easily fools you into believing he understands everything you say.
*When he doesn't really hear something the right way, he just chooses another word that sounds similar and assumes that's the word you meant.
*He needs some work on his auditory processing.
While I appreciated the testing and the suggestions, I knew I was in for an uphill battle getting the school to implement those suggestions. When his teacher called today, she said "I've also looked over his testing from (the school), and have contacted the speech department to implement their suggestions. I'll be conducting the rest of the needed work for him". I was shocked, almost speechless. (Almost, people. Don't get all shocked that I was at a loss for words.)
So, there you have it. We are three days into first grade, and things are going well. I think we are in a place that is fully prepared to work with him and help him succeed. What luck!

Finally Moved and Ready to Blog Again

There are so many updates to post about, but I'm a little bit limited on time. I will be posting at least once a day for the next little while as I try to get caught up. Hopefully that will start a new habit, and I'll be more consistant like I used to be. While you wait on those fun updates, here are a few exciting points to note.

*Our new school district is on top of things that CJ already has been given his own FM system even though we haven't done his ARD.
*CJ was tested by the oral school for the Deaf, and our district is going to honor all of their recommendations. He'll be getting speech (finally!), itinerant services, sign language instruction, and more.
*Liam will be going two to three mornings a week to the oral school paid for by the state.
*CJ's sensory integration issues are finally going to be addressed.
*There are a few other Deaf children at church, and CJ has become friends with one of them.

I'll be back very soon to address all of those things little by little. There are so many happy updates to report that I don't want to miss a thing.