An IEP Victory...FINALLY!
Did anyone think the 2nd half of the school year was busier than most and all of a sudden you are catapulted into summer with no plan? Just me?
A lot has been happening in the last several months as I prepare my sweet little lady and her twin brother for kindergarten this coming fall. It wasn't an easy decision because they have summer birthdays and aren't quite 5 yet. This was the year they were re-evaluated for their IEP's to determine their eligibility going into the fall. Twin brother no longer qualifies. He had a minor speech delay that he has caught up with and shows he is ready to move on.
My little lady was a different story. As I sat in the meeting back in February going over her current IEP it was clear she had met all of her goals as written. Because of this, the tone in the meeting was that she would also be passed into kindergarten without supports. This didn't feel right. Something is still not clicking for her. She has been in school 5 days a week for 2 years and while socially she is amazing in the class, she has made little to no progress in academics. There has to be a reason for this. Right? I have never felt angst in IEP meetings before because we have been so lucky to have an amazing team. This was the first time I felt I had to strongly advocate so my little girl doesn't slip through the cracks.
I finally got the team to agree to a full psych panel to look for learning disabilities. This was going to happen over the course of the next few months and we would reconvene closer to the end of the school year. I got the report 3 days before the meeting. I read it several times. I consulted with colleagues to help me decipher the findings and to prepare for the meeting. Some colleagues felt she would absolutely qualify for services. Others felt she wouldn't even though she showed significant delays in some areas. I was very nervous going into this meeting because I had decided that the outcome would determine if I felt comfortable sending both her and her twin brother to kindergarten. I would not send one without the other and she needed supports in place for me to send her. So everything was riding on this meeting.
I asked for our private therapist to join the call, as I always do because she helps me advocate and fill in gaps I may miss that are on the clinical side of the speak I don't always understand. As we went through the findings it went back and forth in areas she was strong in and where she needed help. And finally the psychologist said it...'I agree with you, mom. There's something not quite right but she's so young to truly determine what exactly that is. Because of that we are going to put a strong support plan in place.' I wanted to cry happy tears! Finally, I had people agree with me that something isn't quite right. I have been in several evaluations with her where I left feeling like the team thought I was crazy. It would leave me wondering if I'm wrong and overthinking things. Finally it was validation that I was right to keep pursuing support. The plan the team put in place is everything and more than I could have asked for and for the first time I am so hopeful my little lady will start seeing gains in the classroom come this fall.
Friends, I know it feels like we fight day in and day out. It could be to manage meltdowns. Get the kiddos to eat a healthy meal. Brushing their hair. Putting on clothes. Everywhere we turn it feels like a punch in the gut, for lack of a better way of saying it. But then you get that victory and you remember why you started fighting to begin with. It's ok to feel exhausted from the struggles, something that was hard for me to grasp. So with every struggle I encourage you to find a victory. Maybe it's that you got out for a walk. Or your kiddo tried a new food. It's doesn't matter how big or small the victory is...but never miss an opportunity to celebrate!