Friday, December 11, 2009

at least this is over with

I met with the "team" at Isaac's school yesterday: the school director, his teacher, the speech therapist, and the sp ed coordinator. Am I the only one who finds meeting with a school team intimidating? Someday I am going to take the "expert advice" and take along an advocate with me to these meetings so I don't feel so outnumbered. But so far, even the thought of finding someone I am comfortable bringing to these meetings has overwhelmed me. Oh well.

The point of the meeting was to discuss my objection to Isaac being kicked out of speech therapy without sufficient reason last year. So I requested more data proving that his speech issues aren't "adversely affecting his educational performance" (the requirement of the IDEA sp ed law to qualify for services).

Well, I won't go into all the details, but I knew going in that they were going to do all they could to prove to me he didn't need speech, and since I have already expended a lot of energy in even putting up this fight to begin with (it's taken almost 3 mos. of pushing to get this meeting set up), I had decided that I wasn't going to continue fighting. It was enough for me that I made my point. I still think it's unfair that they kicked him out before he had accomplished his IEP goals. And I still don't think that the data they showed to me is truly sufficient in proving that his speech isn't affecting him socially and in other areas besides academics (all that they proved to me was that it isn't affecting him academically which is really only a portion of what "educational performance" includes). Sigh. But anyway - they did provide me with more data than they had to begin with. And they will (hopefully) work with him a little informally and help him fix the last few articulation problems he has and officially "graduate" him from speech, since he didn't get to do that last year (and Abigail got a certificate and huge candy bar when she graduated from her speech therapy. yeah).

My final advice in this matter, though, is this:
If anyone in a similar situation is presented with a decision that you haven't been prepared to make, take the paperwork, do some research, think about it, but DON'T SIGN ANYTHING UNTIL YOU ARE SURE (no one informed me beforehand last year that they wanted to kick him out of speech and I felt sort of pressured at the meeting to sign the agreement to take him out. The biggest mistake I've made in this process.) It might not have made any difference in the end. But it would have been a lot simpler to make all the arguments before agreeing to anything.

So, as always, I only hope someone might be able to learn from my mistakes.

Oh, just one more item of venting: the principal stated in her letter of opinion that "articulation problems would affect the student's spelling performance." And they had a stack of all Isaac's 100% spelling tests to back up their view. And I don't know where she got that from, but it just doesn't sit right with me. All the kid has to do is memorize the spelling words!!! Would speech issues really be reflected in that?? My unqualified, unprofessional (but still somewhat experienced) opinion is that that's a load of crap. I might have to do a bit of research into that to make myself feel better.

But anyway . . .
I'm done now. Thanks for listening.


Jennifer said...

It's very intimidating. I will go with you as your advocate if you ever need someone again. I totally hear you about signing things too soon. You just trust them, when in fact they have the schools best interest in mind not your child's. Very frustrating. Good job going in and fighting for him anyway.

Ashley Case said...

So, I don't know even as much as you do about this subject, but I do have some experience in it. I am a linguist (study of language) and I too had hearing problems (still do) and speech problems as a child... so here is what I know.

Spelling problems depend on the speech problems (which in turn depend on the hearing problems, but that is irrelevant to my point.) If he knows what he wants to say and what sounds he is trying to make, and simply has a hard time forming the sound, it should NOT affect his spelling in any way. This was my case; I spelled like a baby genius but I couldn't speak worth a darn. In this case he still needs speech therapy regardless of his spelling scores (good or bad).
If his problem is that he is leaving off parts of a word (the final consonants for example) or honestly can't remember which sound starts and ends a word (he mixes them up or frequently says the wrong one) then his spelling WILL be affected. If this is the case, his spelling would definitely be affected if the problem weren't fixed at least to the point where he is starting to understand where the problem lies and consciously trying to fix it. He wouldn't be speaking completely right, but he would be far enough along to figure out the rest on his own.

Hope that helps. Wish I could be around more so I could give more specific advise. We will pray for you and your family on this end. I know how speech problems can be... down right FRUSTRATING.

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