Welp. We had a big ole IEP and kindergarten transition meeting today. A baker’s dozen of professionals and I sat around a table for 1.5 hours (could have/should have been longer) to hash out our plan for sweet Paul.
I was prepared. It went well. But it’s not over.
I was able to emphasize communication and behavior and nail home that the bar needs to be set high for Paul, because he can reach it if we push him. I had some questions about how we can consistently hold Paul accountable for his behavior and systematically pull supports away so he does things independently. Their answers were adequate, but honestly, a lot depends on who will be his aid. The good news is that he will consistently have the same aid (not necessarily 1:1, but the same person) so they can, hopefully, figure him out.
I wasn’t thrilled with the Sensory-Motor goals that Paul had. I spoke to the OT who wrote them yesterday and she agreed that one of them wasn’t really suitable for Paul as an OT goal (it was a behavioral problem, not an OT problem.) Today we discussed another goal for bilateral coordination. My problem with it was that it was to be demonstrated by rolling a ball 5 consecutive times, stringing 5 large beads on a shoe-lace, and pushing together/pulling apart 5 pop beads.
He already meets this goal. Rolling a ball? Seriously? And Paul was done with pop beads about a year ago in private OT. Stringing beads is an emerging skill, but he’s making great progress. I wanted this changed to reflect activities functional and related to kindergarten. What those activities are, I don’t know. That’s not my job. But I want him to succeed in Kindergarten, and I’m not sure rolling a ball 5 times is really going to get him there.
The elementary school OT explained that there would be lots of activities she would use to help Paul develop bilateral coordination; that his therapy would not consist of rolling a ball. She just said that those things mentioned in the goal would be the measure by which they would gauge the bilateral coordination.
Ok, I am comforted to know he won’t be rolling a ball for his OT work. But still. I insisted, if that is the measure by which you want to see if he has bilateral coordination, then HE ALREADY HAS IT. The preschool OT then said that he can’t do those things in class, so she’ll add to the goal “in the classroom.” Congratulations, ma’am, you’ve just made a goal to show whether or not he has improved in his attention and behavior. If at the end of the year, he is able to do these things in a classroom setting (which is not functional for kindergarten, btw) all you’ve proven is that he can attend better. Which he has other goals for. And a behavior plan for. You’ve proven nothing about an increase in bilateral coordination.
I dropped it. Because I don’t have to deal with the preschool OT next year. I can skip this nonsense and in the Fall talk to the OT who will see Paul in Kindergarten. I also dropped any irritation I had about the other sensory-motor goal. Because I just cannot, with this OT. I like her as a person, I believe she wants to help the children, but I think she is terrible at writing goals, and I’m not quite convinced she is competent at her job.
An exhausting hour later, it came time to talk about related services. By this point, we were probably down to 8 people in the room, since several had to leave for other meetings. So that’s not great, but I am understanding that there were other meetings, and this one was going longer than planned. I wanted to discuss speech therapy. They had Paul down for 60 minutes a week. I wanted an increase. Unfortunately, both speech therapists were out of the room. The one who knows Paul well having worked with him for 2 years had another meeting; the one representing the elementary school had only stepped out for a few minutes and made her way back in toward the tail end of the discussion.
I say discussion, but it wasn’t much of one. It was actually, kind of, ridiculous. The special ed administrator had to go to a meeting, so she was gone, so the only administrator in the room was the elementary school principle. This made things sort of amusing, because as soon as I said, “I want Paul to have more than 60 minutes” the principal started explaining that it’s not possible because of the speech therapist’s caseload, and how she’s only at the school 2 days a week, and there just isn’t enough time- a student can only receive 1 hour.
These are not the right things to say. Unless I’m sorely mistaken, (and internet, please tell me if I am-it’s why I’m blogging this) an administrative issue cannot be a reason to deny services.
Anyhoo, I was emotional and tired from such a long meeting, and I let myself get sidetracked by the elementary school’s OT, who piled on with the principal. She started talking about how the things the speech therapist did would be carried through in other services and those communication and speech/language goals would be integrated in all different settings. And I know this. And I said if it’s absolutely not possible to have more speech therapy, then I would need to have someone trained in whatever oral motor stimulations the ST does (Beckman, bite blocks, whatever else we can think of) so that Paul could receive those things every day.
So I’m not entirely sure where I left things. But I think it is wholly unacceptable that the discussion of more speech therapy took place with not a single speech therapist in the room. And I didn’t sign the IEP, so I’ve left the door open to be a pain in someone’s butt in the weeks to come. I’m pretty sure that I not only want more speech for him, but that I also want someone else trained so that we can be sure that his sensory oral motor approach can happen every day, even if the ST is out sick. I’m so much more bold when blogging than I am in these meetings…
Now is the time to give me all your wisdom! Am I incorrect about the administrative stuff? What’s my next step if they still refuse after we meet again? I’m thinking maybe request an independent educational evaluation (IEE)…but I’m not entirely sure how to go about that. I’d like to be prepared to take that step at the next meeting though, in case things don’t go how I’d like. So should I have some sort of letter? Advise me.