First day of school!

We’ve been talking to Monkey for the last few days about starting school.  We’d put it off because of the IEP meeting issue and not knowing what to prepare him for but, obviously, if we’re not meeting until the 2nd week of classes we needed to prepare him for starting in his previous class.  So, we’ve talked it up.  Duhdee took Monkey to the open house last Friday.  Now we just wait and see.

Hopefully he’s matured enough over the summer that we do not hear any more about the substantially separate classroom. After making so many good gains last year in the integrated classroom I’m incredibly frustrated and angry that this is even a topic of discussion.  I don’t think he did as well as he could have.  I’m an incurable optimist and I think there is always room for improvement but I think that means he should get more support where he is.  I do not think it’s appropriate to move him to a more restrictive environment.

I’m sorry his teacher and the classroom aides felt overwhelmed last year.  I also don’t think it was Monkey that was the cause.  They told us, more than once, that they had a very challenging group of kids.  Some of the “typically developing peers” were struggling and acting up.  They told us, more than once, that Monkey was one of the best behaved kids in the class.

The main issues were his eating of non-nutrative items, his distractability/high level of activity.  Monkey likes to eat bubbles, shaving cream and the water in the water table he does it here and he does it at school.  We’ve tried several ways of stopping this but with limited success.  Any ideas?

Monkey does not stay with a challenging or novel activity for more than a few seconds.  Except for a few favored activities (painting, water play and computer play primarily) he will sit for 5-10 seconds and then run off and wander the classroom until someone goes to retrieve him and bring him back.  He will play again for a while and then wander off again.  No one thinks he’s ready for medication, not his teacher (I asked over the summer), not the folks at the Fragile X clinic and not the psychiatrist we consulted with.  So…any ideas?

One thing we are insisting on this year is that they actually develop a sensory diet.  It was in his IEP last year and they blew it off.  Not this year.  It’s too important.  I’m hoping that will help.  Otherwise I’m just not sure.

I feel as though figuring these things out is their job, this is their chosen career.  They’re supposedly highly qualified to teach in special education classrooms.  But ultimately the responsibility for educating Monkey falls on us.  We’re his parents and we love him more than anything…I just wish I had a ton of experience and training to fall back on here.  I’m feeling a bit alone and overwhelmed here.

Great way to start off a new year, eh?

4 thoughts on “First day of school!

  • September 8, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    By law he should be in the least restrictive environment, right? Don’t tell me that’s just an Iowa law. Keep fighting them!!! You are right — they are the professionals and it is their assignment to support Monkey. I had a similar frustration when Punkin was in the 2 year old room. Everyone was overhwelmed, but only because of their inexperience and lack of preventative measures taken (ie: a sensory diet). I am fighting to even get a sensory diet into his IEP, much less implemented. His teacher is all for it, but his OT thinks it is unecessary. Then YOU come work with him all day and night!!!! Argghhh.

  • September 8, 2008 at 7:03 pm

    LRE is a federal requirement, they should be aware of this and it really shouldn’t be an issue. I think the teacher wanted more support and in trying to lobby for it without asking for it she overemphasized Monkey’s behavior. I see where she was going but her method has resulted in us having to resolve the placement question all over again.

    We fought really hard to get him into an integrated class last year. They initially offered an ASD substantially separate classroom and then they offered us a “transitionary” classroom which was also substantially separate but they were “trying” to arrange time with typical peers (but they wouldn’t commit to a minimum number of hours of the peer interaction in the IEP) with the possibility of him moving to an integrated classroom after he settled in. Which made ZERO sense. It seemed like just another sneaky way of getting him into a substantially separate classroom after we told them that we wanted to START with an integrated classroom not work toward one.

    So part of my anger here is that I thought we fought this battle (and won) and that he had proved, by meeting most of his yearly goals, that he belonged there. Even WITHOUT receiving all of the support that he was entitled to under his IEP.

    I really just don’t see how they can even suggest moving him into a substantially separate classroom to improve his functioning if they haven’t even met their obligations under the IEP!

  • September 8, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    Oh, I’m feeling for you right now. I admire your persistence to do what is best for him. These are all my fears. I just don’t know how to go about handling it all. It’s like EVERY area of life is one big stress after another. I know our kids are worth it….way worth it. But that doesn’t seem to make it all any easier. The educating realm is my biggest stress point. I’m planning on learning a lot from you all!

    Hang in there!

  • September 9, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    I would be an even bigger wreck (can you IMAGINE?) if we did not fork out money for an advocate.

    When we were making the transition from EI to school we had ONE meeting with the school and decided we needed an advocate. We felt totally out of our league.

    We found a lovely woman who is the parent of a special needs child and a professional, highly trained, special education advocate. It’s about $60/hour for her services. We spent about $500 the first year and almost $200 so far this year and we’ve not yet had the IEP meeting. If you have the money it is totally worth it. In our experience the entire tone of the IEP meetings are different when an advocate is present.

    In MA, advocates are trained by the Federation for Children with Special Needs and as a requirement of that training they have to do some pro bono work for the Federation. If you have a similar organization you may be able to find someone to do the work for free. There is usually a wait list but it’s worth checking out.


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