Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ellie's Kindergarten IEP

On Thursday we had Ellie's transition-to-Kindergarten Individualized Education Plan meeting. I was up until 3:00 the night before, but I was ready. I'd talked to my mom, a school psychologist (and former diagnostician and learning disabilities resource room teacher) who attends IEPs regularly. I'd talked to Ellie. I'd met recently with her whole team to discuss Ellie's progress and Present Level.

I reviewed my notes from the how-to meeting on IEPs I attended last year. I went over Ellie's previous IEPs. I updated the sheets Paul and I put together describing our Family Concerns. And I created a sheet listing some fun facts about Ellie (she loves playing with beads!) and lots of cute pictures, so that she'd be a real person to the people in the meeting, the people deciding her kindergarten placement and services, not just a diagnosis and score.

Speaking of scores, I also refused IQ testing for Ellie this year after our LAST horrible experience. When this came up in our meeting, one particular team member - who shall remain anonymous as we have to work with ... her - got this really pinched look about her mouth, but they all accepted our decision. So at least Ellie was more than just a "score" to them. Especially because she was present.

And she did great, for an hour an a half of really boring meeting talk. She sat with us for a while, played with her beads on the floor for a bit, came back to the table for a snack, read some books quietly in the corner, went to the potty with me, then was ready to go. Fortunately, it was time to pick up Ada from school by this time so Paul and Ellie left while I stayed to finish up with the team.

Overall, the meeting went very well (though there were a couple of tense moments with the pinch-faced ... administrator, who seemed kind of mean but was very helpful and knew what she was doing). Present were Ellie's current teacher, speech therapist, and physical therapist. Her OT couldn't make it but sent detailed notes and talked both to me and to the Elementary School OT in advance. Paul, Ellie, and I were there. And, from the Elementary School/school district, two service coordinators (one for early childhood, one for elementary), the principal, the OT, PT, and speech therapists, the resource room teacher, and the classroom teacher attended. It was a packed room!

The verdict: Ellie will be fully included in full-day Kindergarten this fall. She will progress throughout the day with her class, with occasional push-in and pull-out therapies. She will spend at least 80% of her day fully included in the classroom. (During math time she'll be pulled out for help, and during "play centers" time she'll also have a pull-out session. She'll be receiving PT, OT, Speech Therapy, and Special Education.)

She will not have a paraprofessional assigned to her, with two exceptions. There will be someone to assist Ellie at potty time, until she's shown that she can handle the whole process completely independently. And there will be an extra set of eyes on her on the playground, since it's bordered by lovely woodland areas but not fenced. She'll ride the special needs bus, because I still want her in the safety harness. (I love the short bus.)

I'm a little giddy, from happiness, excitement, and worry. I loved school so much, and I want Ellie to love it, too. I want her to have enough support to allow her to learn all she can without getting overly frustrated and giving up, but I don't want her to become too dependent on a paraprofessional or allow a full-time hands-on aide to add to a sense of distance and isolation between Ellie and her peers.

Curbside drop-off. Independent transitions between activities. True academics. PE, art, music (two of these per day). Lunch in the cafeteria. Recess. School!


RobMonroe said...

School! indeed How awesome!

Anny does not want Abby on any bus without restraints ever, so we'll see how that pans out later in life. We have a while, and if we end up still being here when Abby enters school, we're planning to get her into the elementary school near Anny anyway.

Glad that things went as well as could be expected. I think that there will always be someone with a pinch-face about 99% of situations in life.

Kathy G said...

Glad the whole IEP process went well.

I like your expectations that Ellie not get too dependent on a paraprofessional or an aide. I think that does a disservice to the student; they won't ALWAYS have someone to follow them through life.

Tracey said...

I think this is a wonderful outcome, but I can imagine how nerve wracking it must be for you. When our time comes for IEP I'm going to be pestering you for advice. I don't think E needs it quite yet, but I am readying myself for it.

I only wish Ellie was going to be in the same school as my kids, but I think you're in a different school.

Amy said...

I am so glad you had a positive outcome.

You do know that you can bring your mom to the IEP meetings, right? You have the right to bring whoever you want - doctor, lawyer, Indian chief... I can find you the chapter and verse if you'd like.

It would be a good excuse for a visit, and may provide you some peace of mind.


Megan said...

YAY! Now, add this to the passionate post links so I can reference it in 3 years. ;-)

Cate said...

That sounds great!

my five-year-old is also starting kindergarten and I do feel a little nostalgic/giddy about it. school! big kids!

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

Wow, that does sound like a positive meeting overall -- and the thought of kindergarten is so exciting. I hope Ellie ends up loving it! :)

Sarahlynn said...

Rob, yeah, it defies imagining that in today's risk-adverse world, we still put kids on buses unrestrained. They may be in car seats in our own vehicles, but they're bouncing up and down unbelted on the bus!

Kathy, yep. Plus there's the whole isolation thing, and making connections with peers.

Tracey, I'm a big fan of preparing, then hopefully not needing all that for which I was prepared. Here's hoping! I actually don't know exactly where you live, but I suspect we're one school district over. :)

Amy, yes, thanks. I'm pretty clear on IEP stuff! And my mom did attend Ellie's first IEP meeting, a few years ago. (IEPs are reevaluated annually starting at age 3.) It's simply not necessary or convenient for her to leave work and come down for all of them, now that Paul and I know what we're doing and how the process works.

Megan, I'll be happy to provide updated linkage when it's Stella's turn! And hopefully I'll have learned a few more things between now and then . . .

Cate, it's so exciting, isn't it? I think I feel more grown-up, suddenly being the mom of a school-aged kid. You'd think that would have happened before now . . .

MPJ, I hope so!!!

datri said...

I'm glad it all went well! Our Kindy transition meeting is in a couple of weeks. I actually need to prove that Kayla is so low functioning in order to get her placed in a private special ed school, since our small rural school district is horrible at inclusion.

ccw said...

That is great news for you all! I hope that Ellie loves school.