Those of that have been with me and my blog for a while know that I have spent the past few years fighting to get my son, Andrew, help in school. It is one of the main reasons we moved to the area we did. Our new district has a reputation of support far beyond that of the previous district we were in.
I promised to keep you up to date on the goings on with our fight. At least I thought I promised. I could have sworn that I blogged about last year's infuriating IEP meeting, but searched through the archives for a link and can't seem to find the post. Let's just say, it sucked. They wouldn't qualify him for services because 1) we didn't show how bi-polar was affecting his education, 2) he scored "in the average" range during his psycho-educational evaluation, and 3) what were asking for were "accommodations" not "services". With in the first few weeks of school here in the new district, red flags flew up everywhere for the new teachers. He took a grade level reading test with 25 questions and after 45mins had only completed 7 of them, all were wrong. In fact, 21 of the 25 questions were wrong. He then scored below the 30th percentile in math (his best subject).
The new teachers swooped in and have given him every support under the sun, without the special paper that said they had to. Though, it still hasn't been enough. We had a parent-teacher conference and starting to talk about putting a 504 in place for Andrew. 504 plans directly relate to testing modifications so that a child with a disability can better perform on those tests. I had to write a formal letter asking for the review meeting to take place. I had to get letters from all the outside people supporting Andrew with medication and therapy. His teachers wrote up plans for the modifications that would best help him.
This morning was the meeting to determine if he qualified. I was so nervous going in. The IEP meeting last year had been so tense and unproductive and disappointing. I did not want to go in unprepared, but had no idea how to prepare or what they would want either. I talked last week with his psychiatrist for her input and I did research online at www.bpkids.org too.
I am thrilled with the result of the meeting! Andrew officially has a 504 plan in place. He will now get alternative test locations (even if he just needs to sit in the back of the room during a spelling test), he can have on task focusing prompts that are verbal or non verbal, he gets to have extended time on test, frequent breaks too, and he gets to have instructions read to him clarification and understanding. I spoke with the school psychologist after the meeting and asked about a few "extras" too. Andrew is going to get to take part in a social skills group at school! They are going to try to let him go to a resource type room for the last 20mins of school so he can start his homework (something we dread nightly), and he has a standing pass to leave situations that overwhelm him in the classroom.
It is such a huge relief to finally be getting the help we need for Andrew. I had to share that relief with all of you! The things going on behind the scenes here with Andrew are such a huge factor on our family and my life in so many ways. I have been feeling so lost for help and I was feeling sure that it was showing here. I feel like I haven't been as productive as I should be, or as positive as I usually am. I feel like I have been treading water for months and several times dipping below the water unable to keep kicking hard enough to stay afloat. One meeting isn't going to change everything. But it is a little light of hope. Another reason to kick a little harder and start to swim in a direction rather then staying in one spot.
Thank you so much for being such a support. I appreciate having this little corner to talk so much more than I can tell you.