D’oh, Monkey gets a shiner!

Dang, such a good morning and now this, lol.  Monkey was on the playground playing chase with another student.  He was running and looking back at the boy chasing him and he hit a pole.  Oww!  He didn’t even react, the aid didn’t notice anything was wrong until he ran by her.  She thought he had a woodchip under his eye but it was a bloodied bruise, lol.  The kid is a tank. 

He’s home with Duhdee for some extra TLC and maybe some ice if he will cooperate. 

We have a classroom *happy dance*

What a relief!  We saw the final of the three classrooms the school wanted us to consider this AM and it is perfect.

It is an integrated classroom but with a lower student-teacher ratio.  This class will never have more than 11 students (5 IEPs, 6 typical) where his other classroom can have up to 15 students (6 IEPs, 9 typical.)  Both classrooms have 3 staff members.  Right now the classroom has 9 students and is much quieter than his current classroom.  He will have the same therapists with one exception, he will have a different SPL provider but she was new anyway so that’s fine.

The classroom runs on a substantially separate schedule so it will be extended by an hour each day over his current schedule and it runs for 11 months so he will not need to go to another classroom for summer services.  He will be with typically developing peers for the exact same amount of time but have 2 hours a day with more focused time (right now he gets only an hour of focused time.)

The teacher is fluent in ASL, she has a master’s degree in deaf studies! 

They’re really concerned with getting the transition right so we are thinking we’ll continue to drop Monkey off in his current classroom for a period of time and that one of the class aids who he is very fond of will take him next door (the new classroom ADJOINS the current one) to his new classroom for periods of time until we can make the final transition.  One of the staff members from the new classroom will go fill in in the other class so the staffing level is not disrupted.

The school is hiring another staff member who would float between these two classrooms depending on need and that person would most likely be largely responsible for implementing the sensory diet.

Hmmm…I think that might be it but it really is the best of all worlds.  The team leader (who was showing us the classrooms) was *very* relieved as are we.  I think they thought we were determined to keep him in the same exact room.  That would have been ideal given the level of comfort he has developed with the staff there but we were open to something different as long as it had typical peers and he received the sensory services he needs.  Phew.  I think we’re all pleased with the end result! 

We’ll get the IEP tomorrow.  She asked that we consider it a working document and if we have any issues that we all meet again to discuss changes rather than reject it.  We can do that!  We actually like his IEP only the placement was giving us fits. 😀

We toured some classrooms today!

We toured two classrooms and peeked into a third.  Both classrooms were substantially separate classrooms.  We saw one of them last year and rejected it and the other was set up exactly like the second classroom we rejected last year!  So that was productive.  The third classroom was an integrated classroom which we just peeked into, we had seen that one before as well. 

I had told Duhdee I was not going to get into discussions about placement today.  I failed.  Heh.  I was emotional but I was not angry.  If she had not kept tossing in comments about how these classrooms would be less distracting which “we are all concerned about, his distractability,” I might have been able to hold my tongue. 

I reminded her that WE  (Duhdee and I “we”) are not as concerned about his distractability so much as his unaddressed sensory needs and the fact that his sensory needs are the same regardless of the classroom.  That WE are not comfortable changing his placement until they’ve provided him with the support that he was entitled to last year.  That WE are primarily concerned with meeting those sensory needs and maintaining the integrated placement.

It really does seem that we (team “we”) are not even close to being on the same page.  Oh and (HAHA!) she tried to claim that giving him access to a chewy tube last year was meeting his sensory needs.  Even though it was used reactively and not proactively.  Even though we had to FIGHT with his teacher to let him have it and that they definitely did try to restrict it.  Her goal is to eliminate it which is NOT on his IEP and, realistically, not likely to happen.  Monkey appears to be one of those kids with FX with very strong oral sensory needs.

So, after hearing our reaction to the classrooms, she has ONE more classroom to show us tomorrow.  *Twitch*

Their plan now is to have him split time between the two placements…I’m not sure that I’m making that part clear since I’m really focusing on the amount of time he’d be substantially separate.  They want him to be in both a substantially separate classroom and an integrated classroom (some of the time.)  So far the schedules are so different that Monkey would effectively be in a substantially separate classroom for almost the entire time if you include all his pull outs for services and exclude snack and recess.  So his period of actual learning time with typical peers would be very, very limited and we’d be adding in another transition…and you all know how the kids love transitions!

Oh, and, the classroom that they want him in…is considered “transitionary” so the goal is for those kids to move into an integrated classroom.  Sounds great except that they don’t always (we know of one little boy who was put into a transitional classroom last fall and ended the year there) and there is no criteria.  The kids move when the teachers feel they are ready.  I guess we just need to trust their judgement on that…and if that were the case…we’d have been there last year, lol.  I guess we’re just not trusting enough 😉

What am I missing?

You’ll have to forgive me for obsessing over the IEP situation.  This is only our second IEP so I still don’t know what normal is but our advocate assures us that this is a very surreal situation and she’s written hundreds so I believe her, lol.

When we wrote our first IEP the team chair tried to shoehorn us into a substantially separate classroom.  We toured several and we could not picture Monkey in any one of them.  His level of functioning was far above the kids in the rooms we were shown.  We worked very hard to convince the chair that Monkey could succeed in an integrated classroom and we were successful.  His EI team were very strong advocates and were convinced he would be successful.  We recognized that it was not going to be easy.  The team worked very hard to write an IEP that provided the support he would need to meet the goals we had set for him.  The goals were challenging.

Monkey was not given the supports that he was supposed to receive and yet he met all of his goals for last year.  Isn’t that amazing?  It amazes me!  To think that he had no sensory support for the entire year, was placed in a very busy, fully integrated classroom and he STILL met all of his goals. 

So, given that they fully admit he was not given the supports he was entitled to, that they admit that he could benefit from additional supports, that they acknowledge that he met all of the goals that were set for him, that he is in the least restrictive environment…tell me how do you say the best option is to change his classroom to a more restrictive one? 

Are we nuts to think that they should provide the supports he was entitled to under his IEP, that they should provide the supports that they believe would further improve his skill acquistion and that they should do this in the classroom that he is familiar with and has already proven successful in?  Are we? 

Here’s another one for you, are they nuts to tell us that changing the classroom to more restrictive for a year and then (possibly) changing it BACK to the classroom he’s in right now is really the best option given the fact that they are concerned that changing schools (our idea) would cause regression?  Why should we work to keep him in a school that is less than ideal if we’re changing everything else (schedule, peers, staff) about his day?


Would you believe me if I said we’re not done?

Seriously.  We are going to tour two substantially separate classrooms on Monday at the school’s insistance.  This is, as they see it, the next necessary step in the discussion.

Oh, I so wish I could share some of the gems from today’s meeting.  Some were insulting (to their own staff even) and others were umm…outside the law.  That’s a good way to phrase it.

We left the meeting more convinced than ever that we’ve chosen the right path.  I made sure I pointed out to them that we have not argued with their observations, their suggestions or their goals we are just having an honest disagreement with where and how to implement their plan.  I recognize their expertise in education.  What we are insisting on is that they recognize ours and recognize that Fragile X is not like anything else they’ve dealt with before.  It’s a very unique combination of strengths and deficits that you don’t see in any other syndrome or condition.

So, we’re in a hold pattern.  He remains in the current classroom, they continue to implement the portions of the IEP that are continuing (improved home/school communication; sensory diet)  but overlooked last year and we will keep meeting until we either agree on a placement or we move to the next level and invite others in to resolve what we cannot.

Today is the last IEP meeting.

Part 3 of 3.  We need to discuss the information from the Fragile X conference, check in on the team’s progress in putting together a sensory diet, behavior plan, speech plan (formalizing what forms of communication are used for the entire class and at what times they’re used) and communication plan (really a data gathering tool so we can fine tune the sensory diet, behavior plan and track progress) and then discuss placement.

We met with our ed. advocate last night.  We have a very strong idea as to what the school is going to suggest and perhaps insist upon.  We are prepared.  DEEP BREATH IN….DEEP BREATH OUT.  We’re going to be fine 😉

The Fragile X Conference

So, it occured to me that it was going to take me a long time to get all my notes together and that the end result would be a very long post.  I’ve therefore decided to share some of the tips, resources and information in a series of smaller posts.

Today is Resource No. 1 – Mouse and Tracy were asked about using “Time Out” for our kids.  They directed everyone to this article from the April 2006 National Fragile X Foundation Quarterly.  We’ve already altered how we use time-out as a result. 

10 rules of time-out


Just at the right time…

On Saturday, Duhdee and I attended a one day conference hosted by the Fragile X Society of Connecticut.  The presenters were…Tracy and Mouse!  The topic was “Hyperarousal, Sensory Integration and Motor Planning Issues:  Day to Day Strategies for Home, School and Beyond.”   It was the PERFECT conference at the PERFECT time.

We are sharing the materials and our notes with the team at the Wednesday meeting.  The conference reinforced what Duhdee and I have known all along.  Monkey is in the right type of classroom.  It might not be the exact right integrated classroom but he is in the right setting.  We are being beaten down by the team on this.  I even told Duhdee late last week, “Maybe they’re right…”  Of course, Duhdee has never waivered but I was loosing heart a bit.  The opposition from certain team members seemed insurmountable. 

They may still try to force us to put him in a substantially separate classroom but it’s going to mean going to arbitration because the conference has reinvigorated us.  We were right last year and we are right again this year the integrated setting is non-negotiable. 

If anyone would like a copy of the materials please e-mail me.  I’ll share some of the highlights in another post as soon as I can get myself organized!