Yes, the IEP season is fast closing in on us, and I find myself opening small word files and pulling out spiral notebooks, filling them with lists of things that might need focus in next year's program. I scatter these listing tools throughout the house. This is not just for IEP lists- I have spiral notebooks full of all sorts of lists of things I wanted to remember and needed to do. Then I promptly misplace the notebook. Anyway, I have these tools scattered through the house so that when I notice something needing attention, I can write it down, and try to remember to mention it to Mrs. H so it can be considered for IEP-worthiness.
This is not as easy as it sounds. After all, to me, Joey is Joey. I have no reference to "average" 6-year-olds running around my house for comparison. I have no idea what "average" 6-year-olds do, how they speak, what they like. I am still shocked to hear of first and second graders talking about House (and I'm a Hugh Laurie fan) or even High School Musical; my kids are still on Magic School Bus and Oswald, with a new smattering of Sesame Street. Joey likes Wow Wow Wubsy and Go Diego Go, but he has never watched the shows, he just likes the arcade-style games through the website. Superheroes? Joey doesn't know any. Star Wars? Why do 6-year-olds know about Star Wars??? I thought that was for the 8-to-12 crowd???
Thinking about him in terms of deficits is just not something we do. It takes something very obvious to catch our attention. For example, I have quite a few notes about his speech patterns, especially now that we've had an uptick in original, unscripted speech. Constructing original speech is very difficult for our little Mrs. Who, so all the mistakes in language, which you might expect from someone just learning to speak a language, are coming out in force. I can break them down and write them up into lovely IEP goals to make forming speech easier and more natural-sounding.
Field Day is a good day to come out and observe Joey. I learned this last year, when I felt the shock of seeing Joey in a room full of "average" kindergardeners, and how very different Joey really was. I was invited again to chaperone this year, so i was looking forward to getting an eyeful, and prepared myself for the eyeful. Realizing how hard it is for Joey to function and how much he really does struggle with things other kids find easy- everyday things like running and following a game- is really very hard. But this year, I was ready, I knew this was a tool for me to think about focusing effort and what skills needed more attention.
Then it snowed.
So now I am left to think of other options, other ways of getting the information I need to think about Joey and what he needs. Do I try to visit school while he is in one of his inclusion classrooms? Do I make more notes about issues we see at the park and other public venues? Where else can I get a good look at Joey in "average" contexts? What will these observations tell me? And will I remember where I wrote them down?