Friday, March 21, 2014

IEP Meeting Recap

I had to reschedule E's IEP meeting b/c I ended up severely ill.  (I'm still recovering, actually, activity-wise).  I'm still waiting for the final document to sign.

Elena has a fantastic group of educators.  We don't always agree, but I trust they have Elena's best interests at heart.  The only negative about this group is that there can be up to 7 people--and that can be hard to communicate well with that many people, so some ideas/issues get lost in the shuffle.

In no particular order, here are the highlights:

1.  Elena is expected to keep up with her class.  She rarely uses her crutches inside the school building, and can walk at a good pace if she is not distracted (she talks a lot).  She typically (but not always) will put her hand on the wall intermittently.  She is absolutely not supposed to use other people to stop (rarely does, but frequently walks into furniture or walls to stop when without her crutches, as "stopping in space" is a constant struggle).  When venturing up steps (there are a few steps within the building) or into a learning cottage (trailer) outside, she uses her crutches.  Stairs/steps are where E lags behind, especially descending.  E is expected to care for her crutches when she brings them anywhere, but the stairs are a bit of an issue...if she uses two crutches, with kids going in both directions on the same steps, it's a trip hazard.  If she lets them dangle from the arm cuffs, that's fine--ascending steps.  Descending, one frequently get stuck on a step (as her other hand is holding the handrail). Elena found a way to kick a stuck crutch down to the next step, but as you can imagine, it looks like an accident waiting to happen, and it takes extra time.  I recommended that they give Elena one crutch to go to classes within/right outside of the building (making steps easier) and to have her use it in her right hand (to facilitate total weight bearing on her right side).  In PE and recess she should use both crutches as she pleases.

2.  We discussed initiative.  Elena is slow to start every activity, and requires frequent prompting to get started.  This is improving a bit as she is becoming more responsible.  She is also slow to stop an activity; I still call this "initiative", as she waits for a private prompt to "clean up" or "pencils down".  Her teachers sometimes make her stop an activity early, which I don't like--but I completely understand, as we have to do that at home too.  We are seeing improvement with this, but it is at a snail's pace.  Sigh.

3.  We discussed her morning routine.  In the morning, the students have time to finish their work ("ongoing studies") or do some free time (I forgot the name for this).  Elena NEVER has free time, b/c she's always late finishing something.  I found out that Elena is also the latest kid to the classroom in the morning--because she was always last off her bus!  WHAT?  I think the bus driver/aide was trying to keep her safe with the swarm of kids entering school (it is dangerous for her), but it was taking time from her morning routine.  I felt horrible b/c I didn't know this.  It's now in her IEP that E will be the first one to get off the bus in the morning.  I balked at this, wondering if that wording was necessary...the principal countered "this is an IEP.  Don't mince words".

4.  Testing.  I didn't want to over-accomodate Elena.  No one does, really.  But given the technology piece (SOLs are all on the computer), Elena's previous test meltdowns, and her spasticity issues related to sitting for long periods, they suggested a ton of accommodations and recommend we work on taking them away as needed.  They are: 1)  paper/pencil tests instead of on the computer, 2) private testing sessions (1:1), 3) extra time (including taking a test over multiple days), 4) mandatory breaks every hour (offered at 30 min, must take one within the hour), 5) proper seating.  **I'll check if there are more.

5.  There's something in there about modifying homework (dictation, shortened assignments, etc.).  I don't love this one, but since this IEP could last 3 years (into middle school), they thought we should have this in place.

6.  Continued work regarding independence in the lunchroom.  She buys lunch on Fridays; she can now carry her tray with some things on it (including a closed milk carton, bag of carrots, napkins, utensils).  So far they haven't tried pizza on a plate or open liquids.  I can say at home she has dared to carry quite a bit on a tray--before I could stop her--and she didn't make a mess (I was surprised, relieved, and proud, in that order).

7.  E should carry her backpack to/from school.  She typically carries it, but has help putting it on.  The push is for her to easily put on/take off her backpack and be able to carry whatever is in it.

**I'll update this with other important highlights once I get my copy back.