Wednesday, February 11, 2009

It Is A Start

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.

10 comments:

Holly said...

YAY! I'm so glad to hear that you and Andrew are getting the help you want and need. I hope this is the start of a big turnaround.

Cindy said...

My son had IEP's also, he did great in elementary school, but when he got to high school, the principal and superintendent thought that IEP's were ridiculous and all that a parent needed to do was spank and discipline their children and they would do much better. (Same people that made the students go back to class when all the town's tornado sirens were going off. They were wasting time by following the disaster plan, believe it or not, it still took 4 years to get them out of there)

My son had adhd, his high school years went right down the tubes. He was genius level when tested in grade school. High school her barely made it because they wouldn't follow his IEP. It was a nightmare.

Kristen said...

Kerry,
I am almost in tears after reading this, I'm so happy for you and Andrew! This is wonderful news and it must be such a relief for you. It's wonderful that he will be able to start his homework before he even leaves school! That right there should take a load off your mind! All of the other things that they will be doing to help him out sound great as well! Great news, thanks so much for sharing it! :)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! I know it's been a struggle and now with the school hopefully you are all on the right track!

Kellie

Jo said...

That is absolutely fantastic news! I'm so pleased for you all.
It sounds as though you've found a great school there too.

Anne said...

I am so happy for you Kerry, your persistence has paid off. The more eyes that are on Andrew means that you will not be the lone voice in what Andrew needs. Schools do not like IEP's because they are legally bound to provide services, and that means spending money. It sounds like the school is behind you but be alert if he needs more services he may need an IEP.
My daughter has a 504 for extra test time, and she is entering 9th grade next year. I have been told that I need to get her tested next year to prove to the SAT people that she needs extra time, and I also have been warned that it is very hard to get. It never ends.
The good news is that early intervention is critical and my daughter is a success story that proves that, all A's and B's.

CreekHiker said...

KERRY!!! Such wonderful news! I hope this will be the tipping point in a new and positive direction for your family and especially your son!

Cindy said...

Hey Kerry
I'm so glad to hear that things went better than expected at school, in fact they sound terrific...a step in the right direction. It sounds like it's just what he needed in so many ways. I'm very happy for you today.

Anonymous said...

"I have been following your blog for several months now -your work is beautiful, but more than your work, I truly admire your strength and determination to obtain the services your son needs to survive in our public school system. As a mother of 3, with 2 diagnosed with various learning issues - I can only encourage you to continue down the path you are following. Over and over again, I met with professionals (teachers, school administrators, psychiatrists, educational psychologists) to discuss our son(s) learning issues. I can only encourage you to keep following the path you and your husband created for your son. We did, and tho" it was tough, our sons are adults now (25, 28 and 32) and can only say they love what they do, who they are and appreciate and value individual differences. As a jewelry designer, I think the gift of creativity comes from the way we view our life experiences/struggles we face in our daily life. You are the best! Janis Long (1st time 63 year old grandmother of a beautiful 7 month old - Ellie!)"

deehebard said...

Kerry...
What wonderful news, I can only imagine the relief you must have felt...you are a terrific Mother and you shold be proud of what you were able to accomplish on your son's behalf.
Life takes us on amazing journeys...when e surrender to it's power, it is amazing where it takes us...