This morning I met at the school for Samuel's annual IEP review. Can I just tell you how stressful those things are for me? No, I don't think I can. I'll try though. Probably for at least a week before, my stomach knots every time I think of it. This is the meeting where the "team" (me, his teacher, speech therapist, principal, and general ed teacher) decide what he will be working on for the next year. It is also the time to make requests for more or different services, when placement is decided, etc etc. And the more I've actually learned about HOW an IEP meeting is supposed to go - the more nervous I get about it. Because things are not always actually done the way they are supposed to. And I have all these "legal rights" as a parent of a child with disabilities that I am supposed to make sure they are respecting. And I am supposed to fight for whatever things they aren't doing that legally they are supposed to do. And I am supposed to be "my child's best advocate" and make sure he is getting all the help he needs to succeed, etc etc. And it just becomes overwhelming to me.
I am not one who likes to put up a fight. I have learned a lot in the last 5 years that we have been receiving special services, but I still feel like such a novice. I feel like I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know if I'm doing things right. I don't know if the goals we set are the goals we should have. I don't know if they are providing all the help Samuel needs and deserves. I don't know if I should fight more. I just don't know.
I am becoming more comfortable with his teachers, though. I've known the speech therapist since I had Abigail assessed, oh about 7 years ago or so. And then Isaac met with her and was assessed. And then Samuel met with her for awhile before he was placed in the special needs preschool (and had a different therapist there). But at least she is a very familiar face to me. She has known of Samuel since he was 3 and so she can see the progress he has or hasn't made.
Anyway - the meeting went well, I think. Although I didn't get more speech for him, as I had hoped for. He's been working on some of the same speech goals for about 2 yrs now!! It feels like forever. But they say he's "making progress" - so as long as he's making progress, that is sufficient for them not to justify more speech therapy. But, it just feels like the progress is soooooo sloooooow. It's hard.
But I am happy that he is opening up a little more and showing some of his goofy personality. He is participating at school and plays freely at recess. All good things. All things he wasn't necessarily doing last year.
Still so many unknowns. His diagnosis of "developmental delay" is still so vague. Because he is behind in some of his reading and math - but he's too young for them to say why (whether it's a learning disability or not). Still can't tell me where they think he will be a year from now. What school, what kind of class, what kind of services. What will he need? Will he be caught up? Will he always need help? I just want to know. I want to know something. I need to know something more.
So I get home from these meetings and I need to decompress a little. I feel so relieved for it to be over. But then I question again - did I do enough? Did I talk about everything I wanted to? Are these teachers really on my team? Do they all really want to do what's best for Samuel? Or are they just trying to do the least amount that they can get away with. I hope it's the former. I hope.
In other school news, I have started the fight to get Isaac back in speech therapy (that they kicked him out of last year, even though he had not met his IEP goals). Or at least I am fighting to get them to show me more specific assessment data than just observation that they don't think he needs it. So that is in process.
And I am going to have to start the fight to get some accomodations for Abigail in her classes. Need to go back to the Dr. and get a letter stating her diagnosis (innattentive-ADD). I have been torn about whether to really have her "labeled" - with all that that implies.
But I really do feel that if we can get her help to do better, than that would be preferable to just have her floundering along and trying her best to manage on her own. I don't know. It's such a complicated thing.
Some people are so opposed to having a child labeled.
Some people are such strong advocates for getting the help the child needs.
I guess that's a topic for another day. 3 kids with current or potential IEP's is just a wee bit overwhelming to me. I'm a bit of a wimp sometimes though, I think.
And Elisabeth - well, I'm just about to the point of getting her evaluated, too. Because she is just so incredibly difficult sometimes, it amazes me. I have never seen a child throw such tantrums for such a long time. Really.
But then I think, well, maybe if I think all 4 of my kids have some sort of issue, maybe it really is just me with the issues. I know I already have issues. Did I just pass them all to them? Or am I just seeing things that aren't there?? Am I just going crazy?!?! Am I only have problems with them because I can't handle them and it's all my fault?
Thanks for listening.