Wednesday, April 13, 2011

our miracle, aka the one where i learned a lesson, aka the post with a lot of sidenotes

sorry, friends, i never really finished our iep story. i've been slammed with work (which is good) and staying up until 2 am many days in a row (that part is not good,) so i haven't been posting much. i won't draw it out any longer.

here is my version of short* and sweet:
(*matt might contest that i ever say anything in a way that resembles a short version)

work with our district to get m appropriate services for the rest of this school year and next year by m's third birthday. (which was yesterday) i had MAJOR nervous belly.

it was a big meeting:
matt + 
his mom pam + 
m's therapist + 
m's teacher + 
all of the district people
(psychologist + program coordinator + speech/language pathologist + 
 teacher of the deaf +diagnostic center specialist + auditory specialist) +
me =
ELEVEN people
all around one table
to discuss my daughter

the program coordinator
(who, as a sidenote, always has the cutest shoes-every single time i see her i want her shoes)
diffused some of the stress by reminding us that this shouldn't be stressful,
and that we had time to end up on the same page.

we went first, and after matt talked (because i made him-i knew i would cry)
i ended up talking too- and of course (shocking,) i cried.
what can i say?
i cry.

everyone took turns sharing their assessment and evaluation of m. 
(this took a while)
we still had no idea what was going to be offered,
so as nice as everyone was, i was still anxious and emotional.
besides, hearing two hours of evaluations of your child is kind of stressful,
even if you're used to being in that context.

i'll spare you the many details and get to the punchline.
at the end the program coordinator (aka cute shoes) said,
we were going to offer you this 
(and she rattled through a quick list which did not include m staying at her current school-
in fact it did not offer her any school at all)
i read your parent assessment before the meeting
and i hear your concerns.
i think what you are asking for is appropriate
and i am going to recommend instead
that m
continue her existing services
(which means we got exactly what m needed & what we recommended:
3 days a week of school and therapy at her school for the deaf!)"

i was shocked.
then cute shoes went on to say
she thought m needed 2 more days of school a week at a mainstream preschool to get ready for transitioning next year into a mainstream setting full-time.
and that this would be a big transition so even though we legally don't need to meet for another year she wants to meet every 4 months or so to check in and make sure m is doing ok in two school contexts.

(sidenote: this part i did not like so much since it means 5 days a week of school for my little three year old who i like a lot & like being with rather than just shuttling her to school. add in getting out the door for church sunday mornings and that makes 6 days a week that my toddler has to head out of the house with a purpose. i'm working through this aspect of our iep since it was a very strong recommendation from cute shoes, and was even written into the iep as one of the conditions for her continued services at her current school.)

so in the end we are getting great services for m to get her ready for going to a mainstream preschool in a year:
*3 days a week school at her current school
*3 sessions therapy a week at her current school
*1 time a month an itinerant teacher will check in & work with her 
at the mainstream pre-school co-op she'll be at
*an fm system for her to use at the mainstream preschool to help her hear the teacher better

(and we are waiting to hear if we'll get reimbursed for our transportation to her current school, 
which adds up - especially these days and covers gas but not the bridge toll)

so you want to know why i subtitled this one "the one where i learned a lesson"?
because i went into this iep with a worst case scenario mindset 
(it's my usual coping mechanism in stressful situations.)
i was proven 
there, i said it.
we got the best services possible.
 my worst case scenario routine has now failed me multiple times in the last few months;
in circumstances i had predicted and assumed the absolute worst would happen, 
only to be completely shocked by a positive outcome.
so maybe (just maybe) i should go into situations 
with higher expectations, less worry and a little more hope.

(but don't quote me on that, especially you, husband!)

(final sidenote- yesterday, when someone from the district stopped by for us to sign the revised iep, 
i asked her a couple of questions about logistics for our file going forward; she kind of shrugged and said, "to be honest i don't really know. you are kind of an unusual situation. this never really happens that we continue paying for another program, so i don't know. this is a very unusual circumstance." 
so here's to cute shoes, best case scenarios and little miracles, like m's iep.)


  1. I have a joyful lump in my throat.

    And I want to go shopping for cute shoes, so that I can emulate characteristics of: reading/prepping ahead of time, educated collaborative decisions, compassion for families and children humbly seeking help, doing the unusual and unexpected, thinking out of the box, etc. etc. etc.

    Praise God.

  2. just goes to show WHO is in charge. Our God who care about big and little things like IEP's and bridge tolls.

    To cry is to love. Cry cry think it makes the heart stronger.

  3. Yee-haw! Now, let me suggest to the contrary that in some circumstances, preparing for a worst-case scenario (or at least a bad one) is exactly what it takes to create a best-case scenario. I'm not the sort of person who normally goes around quoting Oprah Winfrey, but I do like what she says about how luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. When you walk in there confident, well-informed, determined, with your Mom boxing gloves in your purse in case you need them -- that makes them take notice and do right by you. Not to take anything away from Cute Shoes -- it's great to know that you'll be working with someone who seems to have a good head on her shoulders, in addition to chic footwear. But I think Mama Bear deserves the bulk of the credit here.

  4. Amazing outcome for little m. I have been following your blog for some time. I have 5 kids the youngest of who has bilateral cochlear implants. He is 8 yrs pld and goes to a montessori school with 10 percent of children that are hearing impaired. The entire staff cues. All children learn cued speech, but he models after "normal speech". He is in second grade, and even though he is mainstreamed he gets pulled out for auditory and speech services with an IEP. I love your wit, and charm. Keep going strong!!!

  5. I'm jumping for joy for you right now! This is pure awesomeness and everyone's "dream" iep mtg. I completely agree with Julia. Way to go mom and yay for cute shoes for seeing that the parents do know what's best for their child and going with it plus some. So happy for you all!

  6. thanks friends for your kind words!

    julia, i will agree that i think it made a difference that we came in prepared (and kind, but firm.)

    my friend reminded me the day before to keep in mind that we were an equal part of the iep team, which i think really encouraged me to approach it that way.

    ateret, thanks for reading & for your kindness. :) your son's school sounds great!


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