New Year, New Milestones, New IEP

Milestones is such a loaded word.  Although, everytime I hear it I can’t help but think of the old (talking Roman Empire old), literal milestones that marked off the distance between two (sometimes more) points along the road.  In our case, however, the milestones are figurative but the exhaustion real.

I have been wanting to sit down and write for awhile now, unfortunately falling asleep roughly 30 minutes after the kids are in bed is not conducive to writing.  We spent the first two weeks of this month getting back into school/therapy routine only to have it smashed to bits with IEP meetings and other oddball appointments.  Meltdowns were frequent and sleep was rare.  Generally not a fun time.

I think the IEP meeting was the worst.  Never attend one of those with a migrane, it only makes it worse. Two, yes 2, hours of going over reports and making decisions based on their short term observations of my child.  All to get a plan for how a classroom teacher should handle her, what accommodations she needs, and what classroom setting will be best for A.  I am so thankful that I made a point of learning as much as I could about A’s issues and the acronyms/jargon relating to it because I think they used it all in those two hours.

Speaking of acronyms and jargon, I guess I should explain an IEP.  In our school district (which needs its own IEP for a severe communication deficit), it stands for Individual Education Plan and is used for students that need to have extra services.  In our case that’s speech and physical therapy with an OT option (sounds like a McDonald’s value meal – “I’ll have an SLP and a PT please.” “Would you like OT with that?”).  It can also apply to children in a gifted program as well.  All IEPs are handled by the ESE (Exceptional Student Education) department.   And yes, they all love their acronyms.

The upshot of all of this is that it was decided that A would receive speech and physical therapy during the morning in a pre-k setting with the option for occupational therapy to be add on later if the teacher felt there was a need for it.  The downside of all this is that the half-day class they placed her in is not at the same school my son attends.  The upside is that her school is only about 5 minutes from his, making it a bit more manageable.

This was A’s first week there.  She celebrated her birthday by spending the morning at school and the afternoon at therapy.  Poor baby was completely wiped out by 4pm.  She did have enough energy to blow out her candles and eat a bit of cupcake though.

Now, before anyone gets their knickers in a knot about sending a 3yr old with her issues off to preschool and how it just doesn’t seem right, hear me out.  A is an amazing and frequently difficult little girl.  She is quite smart and creative and intensely curious when her sensory issues don’t get in her way.  While I have done my best to provide a rich home life for her (and her brother) there are some experiences that I just cannot duplicate.  This was not done on a whim.  I spent many sleepless nights wondering if it was the right thing, wondering if it was too soon to place her in a structured classroom setting, and wondering if she would be able to cope with the busyness of a classroom with ten other preschool aged children.  Sure, she can self regulate pretty well at home, but how would it work at school when she couldn’t go hide in her room or under her blanket when things got to be too much?  Would she bite another child?  Would she try to spend the day hidden underneath something?  Would she eat?  Would the teacher and aide be equipped to handle a child with A’s issues?  Al those questions, along with a hundred thousand other questions danced ceaselessly though my head day and night.  Honestly, even though I chose to go ahead and try it, as I left A’s classroom on her first day I still wasn’t sure if I had made the correct decision or not.

Thankfully, so far, school seems to be working out for A.  She likes her teacher and has fun.  She even played in the sand table and swung on the swings voluntarily (I did have to ask her teacher if she was sure that was my child we were talking about).  She looks forward to going and is a bit put out on the days she doesn’t go (program is a mornings only 4 day a week program).  A has had some spectacular meltdowns after school, but I’m hoping those will diminish as we get the hang of this routine addition.

There is one big plus to A being in school 4 mornings a week.  I get “me time” a couple of mornings a week now.  I decided to make the most of it and hit up the beautiful city park that is very close to the school.  Besides having a beautiful walking/running/biking path around the lake, it has a free outdoor gym thoughtfully provided by the city.  It’s amazing what an hour of outdoor exercise, with a few minutes of bald eagle watching thrown in (the park has a nesting pair in residence currently), can do for your stress level.

I never realized just how exhausting taking care of her was until I had that little bit of free time.  It’s not like leaving the kids with grandparents or other family for the day to go do something.  It’s knowing that A is getting the therapy and structure and interaction she needs while I am able to get the downtime I need and it’s regular.  I like knowing that no matter how bad a week might be, I will definitely be able to get at least 2 days where I have a little bit of the morning to recharge my batteries. 

Things are never black and white when it comes to these kinds of decisions.  It’s hard with neuro-typical kids but harder when there are extra issues to consider.  I’m still learning that sometimes you have to just hold your breath, cross your fingers, arms, legs, and hairs and jump.  Sometimes things will turn out fine, other times, well let’s just say other times you’re wishing for a stunt double.  Until then, I’ll be the glassy-eyed parent wearing a helmet!

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lesley Sisemore
    Feb 12, 2013 @ 20:42:22

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    Jan 28, 2013 @ 01:53:48

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