Friday, January 31, 2014

The IEP Eligibility Meeting Outcome

I am so very lucky because I have a boss who doesn't even bat an eyelash when I tell her I need to take off the afternoon to go to my son's IEP eligibilty meeting. Definitely very, very thankful for that. In that respect I am blessed.

So yes, I had Christopher's Individual Education Plan (IEP) eligibility meeting on Wednesday. I went to the school and met with Christopher's Kindergarten teacher, in addition to the Department head of Special Ed, the school social worker and the school psychologist.

A few thoughts before I get into the nitty gritty details...

In a macro sense, that's a lot of resources that are dedicated to one child. Christoopher has no idea how lucky he is that so much time and attention is being spent upon his every need.

I grew up in a family of eight kids and that has its pros and cons. I always had a ton of siblings to play with and have very fond memories of my childhood. However, I know that stuff affecting my brothers and sister probably got overlooked and it may have been harder for them to navigate the world because they didn't always have a parent advocating for their needs when they might have needed it. I also recognize that it was a different time and that more focus is on kids needs today than ever before. Future generations will really benefit from this level of focus.

Christopher, being my only child, gets WAY more attention than any of my siblings did growing up. And I will fight for what he needs to be successful, end of story. That's because I can. My parents did what they could for our family but I will say some of my siblings fell through the cracks because there were just so many of us and after a while, the parents were just tired.. I may be a working mom but I will always make sure that Christopher gets the best services I can get for him. I love him and he deserves it. I can do that for him.

Anyway, now onto the meeting itself.

As it turns out, although Children's Hospital thought Christopher would qualify for an IEP, in actuality he does not. That is because the medication we got from Children's is working so well for him, that his test scores have gone through the roof. Christopher is actually smart. I mean really, really, really smart. His cognitive skills tested at the 98th or 99th percentile. The tester kept telling me what a joy it was to test Christopher. Because the kiddo is crazy smart. That's definitely a strength he has going for him.

There are lots of reasons he tested so highly. I give myself a pat on the back for giving this little guy the stability and love he needs to feel safe. He's also in a school that is nurturing and supportive, which helps beyond belief.. And I will applaud Boston Children's Hospital, the #2 children's hospital in the country, for providing the medication Christopher needs to be successful in life. Quite frankly I am very lucky to live in such an advanced part of the country.

I wasn't surprised that Christopher would not qualify for an IEP because I see his school work come home in his back pack and it all looks pretty darn good. Plus I hang out with him (obviously) and I get that he's super smart. Honestly some of the math school work surprises me a bit because I thought that this was more 1st and 2nd grade work but in Massachusetts, mastering adding and subtracting is considered Kindergarten-level work. They really want our kids to be able to compete on a global plane and I guess if my kid can keep up, I cannot complain.

I have to say the school has been nothing but amazing in its support. I hear so many scary stories of schools with tight budgets pushing back on parent requests but I honestly have not seen that myself. When we met about the IEP, it came out in the report that Christopher often appears sad or stressed in class. That pissed me off because why did I have to schedule a meeting with all these people to find out that my kiddo is stressed out in school. Do these people know what childhood anxiety can cause in a little kiddo's brain?

Actually the answer was yes. The school psychologist said she would start meeting with Christopher on a weekly basis to ensure that his emotional needs were being met. She told me that she saw Christopher's biggest issues being that he has had so much loss in his life and that's exactly what I see his issues as, as well. She told me that she's been with the Forestdale School for 16 years and that she wasn't going anywhere so she could provide Christopher with the consistency he needs. That made me feel REALLY good. I totally agree with everything she was telling me!

There's still a concern that Christopher could have dyslexia but unfortunately he is too young to be tested for that. Apparently that comes out around 4th grade. Right now the teachers and evaluators recognize that Christopher has behavioral issues but according to his test scores, those issues are not impeding his ability to learn. His report card is solidly "Progressing" and right now he is considered "low risk". I shared my concern that Christopher could fall through the cracks and everyone in the room said that this would not happen. There is a "data room" at the school where they keep all the testing information on each kiddo in Forestdale School. If there is an issue, the data room will catch it. Are our kids being over-tested??? Well that's a conversation for another blog. All I know is, my kiddo who's been through all sorts of crap in his little life, has high expectations expected him but that the school system will provide me with the resources to ensure hat he meets those expectations.

Let's face it. My kid goes to a school that has some pretty mediocre MCAS scores. Based on what we've seen so far, he is clearly crazy smart. If the school provides him with the best resources, Christopher will respond with the phenomenal scores that the school needs. They know this. I know this. And I will use this knowledge to my benefit, trust me.

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