Friday, February 21, 2014

It's time for another IEP meeting, and for once I'm not looking forward to it

In addition to Joseph, my older daughter Maria also has an IEP, so that means twice the IEP meetings at school. Since the beginning of our work with the special education system in our school district, it's actually been a pleasant experience! That seems to be an unusual situation, and I've always understood that our kids are young, so there's plenty of time for disagreement and unpleasantness.

This year Joseph has been in the First grade and last month he turned 7 years old. I've been a terrible daddy blogger, and it's been almost 13 months since my last post! I haven't even posted a birthday letter or birthday video of him this year.

He's made so much progress since he was diagnosed at age 3 and a half, when he was effectively non-verbal. He still has speech problems, but he's definitely able to express himself verbally and understand what others are saying to him. But that's not new since last year. On reflection, I think that's part of the problem. Part of many problems even. It's why I'm feeling anxious about the upcoming IEP meeting, and why I haven't been posting here. Because over the last year, I don't think a whole lot has changed for him or us. There haven't been any new milestones to celebrate. We've simply settled into a rhythm.

But Joseph still can't read. He still doesn't know the whole alphabet even, and that is really bothering me. I see it as the next big challenge, teaching Joseph to read so he will have a new way to learn. This year, I've found myself questioning if public school is still the right setting for Joseph at this stage. Looking back at the last 3 years, I think there's no question that we made the right decision keeping him in the local public school, but things change over time. The school is entirely willing to deal with Joseph's behaviors, but are they ABLE to? I even think they've been sugar coating things more recently. Today, his daily update said "Joseph was biting and kicking today." and "I had a Good day" was circled.

Here, this is from the draft IEP his intervention specialist just sent me.
Joseph is able to label the letters in his name using a song for help. When lowercase letters are isolated, Joseph is able to expressively label 7/26 letters (a, c, m, p, q, w, x) letters, and receptively identify an average of 13/26 letters (not consistently).When uppercase letters are isolated, Joseph is able to expressively label 7/26 letters (a, b, c, m, q, t, x) letters, and receptively identify an average of 16/26 letters (not consistently). Joseph is able to receptively identify sounds for 14/26 letters given a field of 3 letter choices. Joseph is able to read the words the, boy, girl, dog, runs, jumps, swings, and sits. He is currently using the Reading Milestones reading program. He is able to label pictures with a written word in the Reading Milestones curriculum with 60% accuracy.
 He's been having a lot of behavior problems, which makes learning difficult. Apparently, this week he didn't want to work so he started taking off his clothes, and then urinated on the classroom floor. My son, the showman. They're continuing to use the positive reinforcement system they've been using, and when he gets out of control they take him to a seclusion room (with my blessing, but that's a whole different post).

Looking at the last IEP, I can clearly see he's not meeting his goals in reading, and I think it's pretty clear why: because Joseph is very clever and exceptionally good and not doing things that he doesn't want to do, and no one has figured out how to reliably motivate him.

I've always felt incredibly grateful for my kids' team at school. I feel like they really care about my children. I feel like I'm being disloyal to them, as if because I'm not satisfied with his progress that I don't think they're doing everything they can to help my son.

This monday is not going to be a rubber stamp IEP meeting, but this is such an emotional situation for me that I'm worried about making myself clearly understood without hurting anyone's feelings or sounding ungrateful or accusing. Of course, making my son's needs understood is more important than making sure that I don't hurt anyone's feelings.

I began this post on Friday intending to ruminate and finish it up over the weeken. Of course my kids got their aADHD from somewhere and now I'm headed toward work with no free time between now and the meeting tomorrow morning so this is as complete as the post is going to get. I'm typing this final paragraph on my phone. 


  1. Tell your team just exactly what you just told your readers. They will understand. We'll be praying for you.

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