Kindergarten is around the corner for Danny, amazing as that is to believe, and with that came the Mother Of All IEPs. 13 people crammed into a conference room to make it happen, requiring use of “wonky” chairs (their word!) relegated to the corner of the room…and for a second, as we piled in like clowns in a circus car, I wondered if we’d need to start stealing from other conference rooms.
We didn’t – just barely.
The meetings always begin with the catch all list of things Danny is good at and things he needs help with. The “help” list was ridiculously long, much of it focusing on a lack of strength and tone in his body still – affecting not only how he walks, but how he reaches, how he holds a pencil, how he carries heavy objects… When your trunk is weak, it’s amazing the things it impacts! He compensates fairly well, but it’s obvious in a number of “little” things, especially in a school environment. Of course, he also has the expected issues with speech, following directions, social interaction…all the same old same old there. What was new was the list of things he’s good at. Last year, it felt like it was “Danny has a great smile and a great laugh – and here’s the things he sucks at.”
This time, he had school district folks who don’t know him dropping their jaws.
“Danny can count, both verbally and in writing, to 130.” “Danny can spell a number of words.” “Danny is starting to do addition.”
There were a couple double takes, and an audible gasp as one point. I had to chuckle… That’s our son!
We spent longer than I would have liked going through each individual therapist and goal. I know it’s necessary, but it just seems to drag on, and after the first hour we slowly started to lose people to other commitments. Many of the goals didn’t change much, or at all, and the ones that did were just natural extensions of the ones he has. He’s made amazing progress…but isn’t quite attaining. And I’m fine with that!
The meat and potatoes I wanted to get to was Kindergarten. It’s all good to know what the individual therapists are focusing on, but where will he be? Well, let me tell you.
Danny’s IEP allows for 60 minutes of speech, 60 minutes of language, 60 minutes of OT, and 45 minutes of PT weekly, as well as 60 minutes of “hearing itinerant” (their hearing loss specialist) a month. Along with that, he will be in a small group setting similar to the program he’s in now, with adult help at all times. He’ll be with the mainstream Kindergarten kids for recess and lunch, and also for 30 minutes a day. Rather than specify when he’d join the regular class, they left it generic, so they can experiment and find what times of day he does best – circle and calendar, math, music, etc. He won’t be able to go to our home school, the same one Eric is in, because they don’t have a small group class set up that would be ideal for him; instead, we’ll find out later which school he’ll attend based on their juggling of kids leaving for middle school, kids coming in from preschool, etc. One of the schools with a small group like he would need is right down the street, though, so we’re hoping that’s where he gets placed.
All in all, there weren’t a lot of surprises, and there was a lot of good in the services being offered. We have to tackle, later, the issue of recess – the hearing itinerant said they do not just take off cochlear implants and let the kids go play, saying it’s a safety issue when they can’t hear. But I’m left to wonder…if he were a deaf kid without cochlear implants, would he not be allowed on the playground equipment? So there is that up in the air currently.
But first, there’s another 4 months of preschool, plus summer session, to get through. All this talk of Kindergarten has me thinking it’s a lot closer than it is!