Wednesday, October 1, 2014

And the band played on...

Last year I put in an IEP request for Mikey. I painstakingly drew up the letter using all the best advice from the web. I talked to my teacher friends.  I talked to my special ed expert friends.  I spent days writing the letter.  And after all of that effort, not to mention the fun of taking hours of my precious pto, the request was denied.  Apparently his ability was average but his achievement was all above average.  I'm still not sure how a kid with an average iq could be performing in the top percentile when he wanders around, curls up under his desk and ignores the teacher but that's all water under the bridge.  They told me they would set up a meeting to develop a 504 plan and sent us on our way.

By the spring of first grade it was obvious that he needed a lot more help than he was getting.  He was disruptive, caused issues, refused to go to lunch, wandered around the campus and was an all around pain in the butt.  His behavior escalated to the point where he wasn't learning and he was keeping other kids from learning.  After several months I emailed the school asking about the promised 504 plan meeting and we were able to get one set up.

The 504 plan coordinator was a 4th grade teacher who apparently had experience as an administrator.  I know this because she kept mentioning it over and over.  "When I was a VP at a middle school we would...." and part of me really wanted to ask why she wasn't in administration any more.  We decided that we would address Mikey's defiance with the 504 plan.  Any time he refused to do what the teacher said, he would be sent to the principals office.  The teacher mentioned that Mikey loves talking to the principal and the office staff, and he might enjoy that too much.  The coordinator said they would instruct the office staff not to talk to him.  So I'm here trying to figure out how sending the kid to the office whenever he didn't want to do his work, and not talking to him was going to address his issues in class.  It seemed like she wanted to give my 6 year old an old fashioned Amish shunning.

A week into the plan, Mikey had been in the principals office 3 times.  His behavior wasn't improving.  And he wasn't learning.  Sorry lady - it may work with 6th graders, but not 6 year olds.  At the same time, Dani's issues in school were escalating and she was in tears over her homework and school work every day.  The breaking point was the day Mikey dropped a deuce on the playground.  Yes folks -my son decided the bathroom was too smelly and somehow the pavement was a better choice.  When the principal questioned his actions, he got upset and screamed that he hated his life.  That turned into he wished he wasn't alive.  And that turned into me having to run to the school to pick up my child and sign the district suicide threat release form.  Good times here. 

So I hired a special ed advocate.  Mikey's new therapist had diagnosed him with Aspergers because he apparently has classic symptoms.  The diagnosis was helpful because it gave his behavior a name.  Even though his Aspergers is very different than Dani's Aspergers, there are a lot of pieces that are the same.  Armed with the diagnosis and the advocate I sent in the IEP request letter for Mikey again and requested a review of Dani's IEP.

It's amazing what a difference an advocate can make.  To be continued.....

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