Tuesday, May 24, 2016


We had our first IEP (Individualized Education Plan) for Ruby today. It's been a season leading up to this, full of evaluations by the county, transfer of services from the county through Babies Can't Wait to the school system, etc. Today's meeting was planned to do two things: determine eligibility and make a plan (an IEP) for the service(s) for which she is eligible to receive.
When Ruby had her evaluation about a month ago, I knew she did well. The evaluation occurred at 9AM, which is a great time for most kids because they are well rested and ready to go, and it took place in a new environment with new toys. Pretty much the perfect scenario to get the best possible results from my girl. So when I got her report last week, it didn't shock me to see high marks on there. I didn't expect them to be as high as they were, but I also don't really know anything about this process since we are just starting out.

The meeting today started out with determining eligibility. There are several types of services available to kids: special needs preschool, individual or group speech therapy, and community based support were the three we were anticipating. I thought we might have to negotiate how much special needs preschool Ruby would attend next year given our push for her to be involved in her typical preschool classroom three days/week. However, as they interpreted her scores for us, it became evident that she scored *too* high for most of the services. She did not qualify for PT, as we expected. She did not qualify for OT, which we knew was a possibility. (I asked several times if she would be able to qualify next year, even if she didn't this year and the answer was 'yes'. I fully expect that her delay will be more evident next year.) The only area she qualified for was speech, and that is only for small group speech therapy, not the full-on preschool. (That also means she cannot receive the community based support, which allows someone to come to her typical preschool and observe/help/support from time to time.)
Here's the thing: Ruby's scores fell in a small little gray area between the 'norm' and qualifying. That sounds like great news because we didn't know she was capable of performing at that level. However, if what you want is to receive those services, this is bad news. (Especially since a blood test on Ruby should be enough to qualify her based on her extra chromosome. Her delays will not be remedied with a little therapy or time to 'catch up'.) Her scores only qualify her for 1 hour of speech each week. Sounds crazy to anyone walking this road with us.
I am choosing joy in this moment. I am choosing to see this as a reflection of Ruby's potential. I am choosing to see this as the result of her hours and hours of hard work. I am choosing to see this as a byproduct of Ruby's motivation and desire to learn.

I went into this meeting prepared to fight for my girl. To fight for inclusion. To fight for her to be able to maintain as much exposure to typical peers as possible. Instead I got to hold on to my fight for another day. Should we see that she's not benefiting from the current plan (which doesn't start until the fall), we will call a meeting to reassess. Should we see that she needs more (OT, behavioral) therapy and we think the school can be a viable resource, we will call a meeting to reassess. Should we see that this particular speech therapy is really helping and she needs MORE, we will call a meeting to reassess. It just didn't seem to be the right move to fight hard for more services (that we really weren't sure about anyway) before we'd had a chance to test drive them to see if they were worth fighting for.

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