Last Friday was Birdie's long-awaited IEP planning meeting-- and I am so glad it's over! (It was quite quick and painless, once we got started.)
During the whole process to acquire special accommodations for Birdie at school, I have been a bit of an emotional wreck. I find this fact funny, since I know how the system works, know the language of special education, and understand all the hoops that must be leapt through to get services in a public school setting. I can't imagine how a parent without a background in public education could fair the waters of a typical IEP meeting and leave feeling anything but overwhelmed!
Originally, My frazzled state was due to the Special Education referral process in general, and what a negative picture of Birdie the referral forms painted.
I was nervous at Birdie's eligibility meeting , mainly because Birdie's chances of getting special services were out of my hands, and I was just waiting to hear the verdict. There was also the small matter of those horrible evaluation reports that I read, and re-read... and read again. It was all very nerve-wracking.
On Friday, the IEP meeting stressed me out for completely different reasons. My worry was that the IEP team would see Birdie's outrageously high intelligence and cognitive test scores, and decide that she would fair "well enough" with limited accommodations. Birdie's grades are fine. She's a bit of a brainiac, quite frankly, and absolutely loves learning. But she hates "school". She doesn't hate all of school-- just the part where she is in a classroom with her peers. You know, all of it except when she has to go pee. Just 6 hours and 50 minutes of the 7 hours she spends in school each day. That's all-- no biggie, right?! Most days in second grade, Birdie would either have a mental meltdown at school, which would disrupt a big portion of her (and her class's) academic day, OR she would fall apart upon getting home, having used up all her "tolerance" at school. I knew that I would get some coverage for Birdie because of the school meltdowns, but I was worried I wouldn't get enough-- and "not enough" would all be for naught. I mean, really-- if she still comes home a big ball of anxiety every day, what's the point?
My worries were for nothing, however. Birdie had the best IEP-writing team possible! Birdie's second grade teacher, a special education case manager, and the school's assistant principal all considered what they knew about Birdie very carefully, and then crafted a very thoughtful IEP. Birdie got all the accommodations she will need to have a successful school year. (I couldn't be happier!) She is getting behavioral support during transition times, organizational assistance, help transitioning into high-stress environments (like the cafeteria, P.E. and recess), and she is getting speech support to learn proper body posture and conversational etiquette. (Birdie will talk anyone's ear off, but wouldn't it be nice if she looked at you during the conversation? Or asked you about something that you like, for a change?) She will also get help when working in small groups in the classroom. All of the anxiety triggers that regularly leads Birdie to lose her goop at school should be covered. Notice I said "should"-- you just never know what your spectrum-y child will be sensitive to from one school year to the next. Or from one moment to the next, for that matter. For now, though, I think we're good!
I am so excited for Birdie! (And for me, too, as I hope a happier Birdie at school will mean fewer tearful afternoons at home!) Third grade is a very hard grade to transition into. It is the grade when students start doing more independent learning, their homework responsibilities increase, their studies become more diversified, and the amount of writing they are expected to do increases dramatically (which could be a problem). With the help of her IEP, Birdie will get to enjoy school more, and hopefully be better prepared to deal with the stress of being in a social classroom environment.
Wouldn't it be great if Birdie came home smiling each day, excited about more than just the books at school?! Some more same-age friends, maybe?! Less drama, perhaps?! A mom can dream, can't she? :)