Monday, May 08, 2017

End of Year IEP Meeting

We had another IEP this afternoon. I called this one. We are not 'due' for another IEP until December (the goals should last a year and we had one to challenge Ruby's initial denial into the program last December), but with the school year ending, prep for another begins. I wanted to establish if Ruby would be returning to special needs pre-K, and in what capactiy, along with goal updates.

Prior to these meetings, there is always a lot of prep for Lehr and I. Re-reading her current assessments and reports, reading up on kids similar to Ruby in different settings, discussing what is working and what isn't, talking with other families to see how they are navigating these waters, praying, praying, praying... But even with all of that prep, this time we did not go in with a clear plan.
 Honestly, I felt very conflicted about what I hoped the outcome would be. We have pushed for as much inclusion as possible all along which would mean us requesting Ruby attend the typical preschool (Mt. Zion) 3 days/week, with a facilitator a few hours each week in addition to attending the special needs pre-K (Sope Creek) the other two days. However, she has done so well at Sope Creek in just four months. She is potty trained and has been with rare accidents since the first month, she has made friends that she has conversations with every day, and she is talking talking talking so much! Those great things (which didn't happen in the typical preschool) are so great that they make it hard to consider taking even a little bit of it away. She may still thrive that way with only 2 days/week next year, but what if she doesn't? And what if her typical environment is one that causes frustration again?
So with these questions (and many more) on our minds, we went into the IEP with a very open mind, ready to have a conversation with her teachers and therapists. We all agreed that Ruby has made a lot of progress in a short time, in all areas. (The teachers are so proud of how well Ruby navigates the classroom and fulfills her responsibilities with no prompting.) And we all agreed that next year she should continue that progress at Sope Creek. She will be eligible for the afternoon (full day) program as well. That program allows for smaller numbers (more one-on-one), and more intensive work to prepare her for kindergarten (handwriting, number work, etc.). However, if she stays until 2PM each day, it will mean her 2-4 therapies outside of school will have to take place after the big kids get home, making our afternoons even crazier than they already are. So Ruby will attend full day, but only on days she doesn't have therapy. (These last few months, it's worked very well for me to pick her up before noon and get her therapies done before returning home to receive Maddux from the bus.)

So that's the plan for next year and we are happy with it. Ruby's summer birthday means she could start kindergarten after next year, or after an additional year (starting right after her 5th or 6th birthday). Should we wait until the second year, her final year of pre-K might be a typical/special needs pre-K mix.
Here's what made me smile at the meeting. The team, Ruby's team, a speech therapist, an occupational therapist and her main teacher, gave lots of feedback with lots of genuine smiles. They told little stories and gave examples of her in the classroom or therapy that obviously brought them joy. They love my girl. They see my girl. They are proud of my girl. They get how much she loves to learn. They see how much she wants to learn and work.

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