I had a meeting at school today to re-assign Isaiah's disability for his IEP eligibility. (Individualized Education Plan- or Special Ed) Since moving to Garden City Elementary the IEP meetings have just been easier. So the stress I felt before each meeting last year is gone, but when your child's future is being scrutinized and his abilities documented it can still be a little un-nerving.
And since Rex couldn't go with me I was going it alone today.
Isaiah's had an IEP in place before he started Kindergarten- mostly to accommodate his Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) but about a year ago his teacher approached us with concerns over his ability to process and retain information. It wasn't clicking. He could count to 100, but if you wrote the number 23 and asked him what it was, he was lost. His struggles crossed over into reading and spelling. And after some testing, he was showing way below average. Since identifying this concern, he's been getting academic support services in addition to his sensory accommodations in the classroom- as well as during his weekly OT appointments.
I walked into a full room-- the social worker who recently spent a couple of hours with me, the principal, his teacher, his special-ed case manager and the school psychologist who I met for the first time today.
I listened as they each reviewed their own reports and explained what they meant. It wasn't the first time he had been evaluated- terms like Woodcock-Johnson II, BASC-II and WPSI-III (pronounced wispy) were familiar. And other terms like cognitive ability, verbal processing, academic achievement assessment, visual-motor and social emotional-behavioral functioning, summary of standard scores- it wasn't my first time hearing those, either.
As I listened and looked at his scores on the papers I could see that he was doing pretty good. His scores were solid "average" with several above average areas.
Average may not be a big deal to everybody, but for this boy he's had to work hard and come a long way to get here.
The Social Worker who was hearing the information for the first time, kept commenting that she was amazed and kept reminding the team about Isaiah's biological history- medically and socially. She said she never sees scores like this at these meetings.
At one point, they asked if I had a question, but I was tearing up- how different from what I was expecting to hear, and how proud I was of my son. I told them I was just having a Proud Momma of her Baby moment. That's when they brought up the "Nurture vs. Nature" argument and how Isaiah was proof that his family environment and our love and parenting had changed what should have been his course based on documented medical facts.
Maybe, okay apparently
the hard days and sleepless nights and crazy car rides and non-stop talking is worth it. All that talking, life and experiences happening around him and even the arguments in jest have soared him to above average in overall knowledge. He really is a sponge taking everything he hears in and is able to pull from that knowledge when needed.
While I was enjoying the comments about how well he's doing, I was still waiting for the new eligibility and I didn't see the decision coming.
"We've decided to exit Isaiah from Special Ed and terminate all services"
whoa Nellie, hold up.
You mean we're done. He's promoted to average- normal? We're going from 20 - 40 minutes of extra support a day to- so long see 'ya later
We'll still need to implement a 504 (accommodations only- not based on disability)to meet his SPD concerns, but other than that my baby is no longer in Special Education.
Back to that nurture vs. nature thing- I give a lot of the credit to Garden City Elementary. They treat kids as individuals, not cookie cutter kids so each child, whether they're in SP Ed or not gets to learn in the way they need to learn. The teachers and Principal do an excellent job and don't mind the humming and the wiggles as long as the kids are learning.
When I told Rex the good news- he suggested letting his Kindergarten teacher know. She kind of broke the rules and loved him special while encouraging his need to learn a little differently than her other students. She overlooked his flaws, but didn't miss his need for some help in kick-starting the click in his brain when he was faking us out.
She was thrilled to hear he had been "exited" and agreed that rarely happens. She asked me to bring him for a visit, admitting she really missed him and actually looks for him whenever she's out in public.
Teachers who aren't afraid to love their students and encourage them to be who they are instead of fitting into a mold- well they'll get my vote every time. I bet you can pick them out at your school too.
I'm not a fan of the "it takes a village" philosophy but in this case it certainly took a team and Isaiah sure had a good one.
When I think back to all the trauma little man went through to get here and all the hard work he himself has done- it makes me smile. Did I mention he's been on the A-B honor-roll all year.
Moral of this story for you- don't give up, keep fighting the fight for your kids until you get that "this rarely -never happens" moment. It'll be worth it, promise.
Happy Tuesday y'all!