We had our 'dreaded' IEP meeting yesterday. I don't know what I was really ready to expect.
Part of me (the Mom) wants to be Chase's biggest advocate and get him everything that we can to help him. More frequent therapies, an aid, a specialized pre-reading program... The other part of me (the teacher) feels the need to be realistic in what we are asking for. Does he really need the extra therapy sessions? Is asking for an aid really a necessity? By getting him more now, are we ensuring that it will be harder to mainstream him later because he will become dependent on the help?
And then, another part of my mommy instinct kicks in: is less more? I keep saying that he is just like all the other kids, that he can do anything they can. So why do battle for extra things that he may not need? He is already in a very structured classroom, with a teacher trained in EC, with assistants there to give more direction if he needs it. Don't I want him to go into school and show that he is a little rock star and that he can do it with minimal assistance so that transitioning to an inclusion classroom for Kindergarten will be a no-brainer?
But then, does the extra help NOW make it so that he will be extra READY to move on in K?
Originally I wanted Chase in a completely inclusive environment, surrounded by typical peers (like he is at his private preschool now). Well, we don't have that option in the public school system, and frankly, I can't afford to pay for it privately. And the classroom that he will be in really is only 7 kids with IEPs and 3 kids without, and those with don't seem all that high maintainence. Really, I just want him to have good role models, and they are there. So that option is out.
The therapists recommended 30 minutes of PT and OT each week, and two 30 minute sessions of ST per week. Speech is our main concern, and he is doing pretty well on PT and OT. I feel like this is pretty adequate. Also, he learns the most through imitation, and sitting in a class with 9 other kids and watching them has got to count for some learning, right? We added a couple goals in about communicating with his peers, following 2 step directions, and using 2-3 word phrases.
I think one of the best things we did was request a copy of the evaluations that they did a few weeks ago, and also the draft copy of the IEP prior to this meeting. That way, we could do all the emotional stuff in the privacy of our own home (I mean, I know he has delays-- that's why we are there, right? But it IS hard to see it in print, with the official "age" that the results give you that is a year or more behind what your child's actual age is.) Really, though, it wasn't all that difficult to deal with, because we knew what was coming, we weren't blindsided with any numbers or summaries. Also, I didn't feel like I was being put on the spot when they asked if we were satisfied with the proposed goals or if we had anything we wanted to add.
We got a chance to tour his classroom and actually sat down with his teacher for a 1/2 hour or so to chat about Chase and his needs. She took all sorts of notes, asked all sorts of questions, and I know that I am going to LOVE her. I need to find a "first day of school" gift for her. Suggestions? If I don't think of anything awesome, I am leaning toward a Target gift card, because, really, what teacher couldn't use a gift card? Oh, I also ordered a bunch of these books to give to his teachers...I was going to give them out at the end of the year, but this way she can have them in class while Chase is there. What do you think?