Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Before kiddos I taught high school biology. I had to attend several IEP/special ed meetings in my four years teaching and they weren't my favorite kind of meetings especially when they were for students with very pushy parents or those who wanted the sun, moon, and stars for their kid without the student putting forth any effort on their part. After several years of attending ridiculous special ed/eligibility/IEP meetings I promised myself that if I were ever a parent I didn't want to be like "those" parents (note: not all parents were difficult and a lot of time meetings were very helpful and productive, but of course, the difficult ones remain engraved in my memory years later). So now we will see if I will live up to my promise or not. I am now a parent of a special education child, well not exactly, I think, hopefully by the time he is school age he won't be special education. The tables have been turned and I am sitting on the opposite side of the table, I am the one who decides what services/accommodations my child needs and think the school system should provide for him. I was nervous about this mornings eligibility and IEP meeting. I didn't want to be one "those" parents, but I also wanted the best for Lance. Lance doesn't talk, well he talks, but not with words and he is delayed significantly. The city school system provides free speech therapy as well as other services for special education students starting at age 2 so we have sought out the free services available since we are very low of money and the insurance companies don't like to pay for speech therapy and I don't want to deal with the hassle of trying to get them to pay. So a few weeks ago we had him evaluated to see if it was just a speech problem or if their were other development delays going on. He passed with flying colors every aspect of the child study and then a week later he passed his hearing and vision screening. Last week the speech therapist evaluated him and found him eligible for services so today we had an eligibility meeting and wrote an IEP- an individualized education plan. It was so strange being the parent in today's meeting and not the teacher. So after going over results of the tests, his strengths, weaknesses, goals etc. we discussed what needed to be done next. The speech therapist recommends 2 hours a month of therapy which is the equivalent of 30 minutes once a week. At first I thought that sounded good, until I talked to my friend who is a special ed teacher. She said that I should request two half hour sessions a week because half an hour once a week isn't enough time and there is too much time between sessions for him to make progress. I see her point, but once again, from my experience of sitting on the other side of the table, I don't want to be one of "those" parents so I am questioning what is best. Our schedule already seems very busy and hectic and adding an additional morning activity doesn't leave us a lot of flexibility in our week. Also, ideally I wouldn't want to take Lily so I can focus on what Lance is learning so I can work with him at home so going more than twice a week could be cumbersome to find someone to watch Lily. Also, I would rather him go once a week and have it be productive then twice a week where he might get bored or too comfortable and not make any progress. The once a week recommendation is from the speech therapist, the professional, the one who has been doing this for 30 years, I want to trust the professional because this is what they do, what do I know? Then again, I wonder would he talk sooner if he was receiving services more often? Will I be disciplined enough to make sure that we are working on what he should be doing at home regularly or will I get lazy, thus making speech twice a week a better option? The other thing is, when it comes to IEP's it is easier to reduce services, frequency, goals then to add to them so should we start out with more and then reduce if he is frustrated or is too much for our schedule? So much to think about. I want what is best for my child, but I also know that you want to be on the good side of those who you are counting on because then they will do the best for you and your child, so I don't want to be a pain. Also, I don't want to be the know-it-all, give me everything you can, but I am not going to do anything kind of parent. Is what is best for Lance also best for me?