A sassy, crafty mama bird from Los Angeles
raising a very sweet little girl with Autism
and a new baby boy in the Midwest... and other stuff, too.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

IEP Victory!

If you haven't been following along my with my school sucks saga, you can catch up or just just read the last entry I posted in which I sum up a lot.

Here's where things stand today:
!Lo Hicimos! We did it! Here we are, in a place of victory (I think). Little Bird received an ASD certification through the local school district, and will transfer to an Autistic Impairment Program. The IEP was just 2 days ago and today is the last day of school before the spring break, so this is it. She'll begin the new program once we return from the break. Feels kinda quick despite the fact that I've been pushing for this since last September!

Once the Central Evaluation Team completed its testing including an ADOS exam, which the school district uses to determine Autism Spectrum Disorder is present in the student (another day another special education evaluation), I received my official invitation to the IEP meeting. It was overwhelming to see all the names of those who'd be in attendance: teacher, principal, SLP, OT, PT, adaptive PE, MSW, psych, teacher consultant. I knew all those people and their names, but then I noticed some names I didn't recognize, so I did a little research (read: googling). These other people who were invited to attend my daughter's IEP were the teacher, SLP, OT, and MSW that serve the ASD program. Woot! I mean, why would they be in attendance if the team wasn't recommending the change, right? So, I felt prettttty confident that was the direction in which we were heading. Then I got copies of all the reports and evaluations. Sure enough, they were certifying the girl ASD, even though they were clear that she presents differently in different situations and is very functional and incredibly engaged/verbal with me (but not with others, and certainly not yet in a school setting).

Going in to the meeting knowing that she was getting this certification and that the ASD class team were attending, I felt a lot more at ease. Plus, I had the help of the incredible advocate I'd hired. I am forever grateful. I walked into a room filled with about 20 people; all people I'm relying on to help me help my bird. Still, I feel like I'm up against them, too. The school administration is working hard to keep their costs low and often times, that means denying our kids the services they need, or the amount of time they get those services. I noticed that they were recommending that Little Bird get Occupational Therapy "20-30 minutes/2-4 weeks per month". Ummm, that's about 10 minutes per week!!!! She can barely hold a pencil! So, I had them increase that. Same thing happened with speech services. They were recommending 20-30 minutes/4-8 times per month. So, that works out to a minimum of 20 minutes a week. Well, you know what happens when you give a school district the minimum that they have to achieve- they shoot for the minimum! Now, I'm not certain that's how it is where you are, but that's certainly been my experience thus far in the public schools.

I knew my girl wasn't getting what she needed from the schools. So I fought for her. And I fought. And I fought. And I will keep on fighting for her, speaking up for her, and doing the things for her that she can't quite do for herself....yet.

Will the new class be right for her? Will she succeed and excel there? Will I feel like I'm going to vomit everyday when I go to pick her up from the new place? Find out next time on The Adventure of Little Bird!

**Side note: thank you to everyone who has supported me through this journey. I am forever grateful and indebted. It takes a village and I'm so glad that so many people out there are my village people!!


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