We had Christian's IEP meeting yesterday. First it was a meeting to discuss Christian's readiness for preschool, then it turned into an IEP meeting (and, yes, we just had one in June), but then it morphed into an IEP addendum.
Without getting into the fascinating details, the IEP basically puts in writing what the school will do to provide an educational environment for Christian and meet all of his needs.
I hear stories about these meetings, by the way. Bad stories. Headache inducing stories. So there is always a degree of nervousness and dread like someone is going to jump out from behind the wall and scream, "Boo! No school for you!"
That didn't happen. It was actually a really good and productive meeting. I made a point of continuing to encourage myself to be open minded. I didn't want to seem defensive or jaded because Christian's in preschool for God's sake. I'm not sure I've earned the right to be defensive or jaded yet and, no, my friends' and friends of friends' stories don't count.
Anyway, Tuesday morning we had the opportunity to tour the other preschool class. It had a lot more students, but it was in the morning and not in the afternoon. It was loud and boisterous and circle time was all the rage. Christian got to sit in and be included in circle time and there was a moment where I moved across the room so I could see his body and his face - since that's how he speaks - and I was taken a back because he blended in with the rest of the little busy bodies that were his age. For a second he looked like a normal little boy just going to preschool. I'm pretty sure my earth moved a little.
Enough about Mama's proud moment, Christian did great! He was attentive, I caught him looking toward the singing and music, and the loud, crazy chaos of a preschool classroom didn't shake him in the least!
After he completed circle time he went back to his other classroom. I left to run some errands and came back to find him being snuggled by his favorite aide. She said after circle time and more therapy, including paying attention with the vision therapist for forty-five minutes straight, he looked like he needed to be held. She now knows him well.
And after visiting all of the classrooms...again...and thinking about everything and every choice it was apparent he needs both - preschool and downtime.
His therapists, teacher, principal, and vice principal of the school all attended his meeting. Everyone had amazingly wonderful things to say about my boy, including that he was a different child then what was written on paper in the initial assessment reports. The PT and OT both concurred that he's made really great progress, specifically after the VNS was implanted (very interesting!).
My main focus was to keep him in the school he's in now. It was not important that he be going to school with his neighborhood peers. What is important to me is that he continues at his current school with his current therapists and his current amount of therapy. And that is what will happen. We also added that he needs a full time aide at all times no matter what classroom he is in. Seems like that would be a no brainer but I guess we had to prove he needed it? I don't know. But he has one now. I'd love it if he could have the aide that he usually has because she's gotten to know him and care for him so well. But I'm not sure that will happen. :-(
The biggest change will be that he will be doing both programs. This means that he will spend some time in the preschool with the preschool kids and some time in his current class all with the goal that he will eventually make the transition to the preschool full time. He kind of has a custom program of sorts, which is appropriate because Christian is a custom kind of boy.
At this point I'm content in knowing that this group of teachers, therapists, and staff are very dedicated to Christian and his education. I truly believe that all of them care about him and they've done a great job at finding a way to provide Christian with what he needs. We are very blessed to have this team.
Favorite part of the meeting was when the OT was talking about Christian in circle time. She said he was attentive and really listened with his body. Then she said, "Well he wasn't whooping and hollering but...wait a second, he WAS whooping and hollering in the way that he knows how!"
Ahhh, she speaks Christian.
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