Although we are a few of weeks into the school year, all the changes inherent in starting a new year have not settled quite yet. I wanted to call an IEP meeting and had started the process for it although Ezri’s individual education plan (IEP) is not due for review until November. Ben and I felt it was important to get it revised with regard to a couple of issues. First, the decision was made at the end of last year to have Ezri’s one-on-one special education instruction reduced from one hour a day to 45 minutes three times weekly when kindergarten started. It was one of those meetings where I met five new people (the new therapists from the new school, and others involved in IEPs at the new school), they presented a lot of information, and there were acronyms being thrown out right and left. In addition I was trying to keep a three month old baby happy throughout the meeting. At the end, I was not completely sure what I had agreed to and then it was too late to change it (live and learn right?). After more thought, Ben and I realized we were unhappy for her to have such a reduction, particularly with the stress of both a new school and the higher demands of kindergarten. Also, looking into the specific academic goals for the end of the kindergarten year, we know that Ezri will not be able to reach those goals without a significant amount of extra attention academically. Her current IEP is focused on more social goals than academic goals – both are badly needed – so I’d like for the academic goals to be addressed. And finally, about a week ago, we got the Occupational Therapy (OT) evaluation from Duke which assessed her at 9th percentile for ‘grasping subtest’ and at 5th percentile for ‘visual motor subtest’. With such a low ranking, I hoped she could get OT added back into the IEP and felt that this should also be addressed. So for these various reasons I wanted to call an IEP meeting.
Then on Monday, I ran into the resource teacher (special education teacher) while dropping Ezri off and we chatted a bit. Her thoughts were that since Ezri’s IEP goals were more socially oriented and that since she had to take her out of class to work with her, that it was counterintuitive to add more time to the special education instruction time. There are also teachers called ‘inclusion specialists’ who come into the classroom to work on the IEP goals. This is in addition to the hours the resource teacher works with Ezri, so she is getting a lot of one-on-one toward her goals this way. The resource teacher offered to set up a meeting with herself, Ezri’s teacher and me, before calling an official IEP meeting. This seemed reasonable to me, so this was the new plan. I thought if the teacher and I could just discuss and agree on the extra academic attention Ezri needed, then maybe she’d get it even without it being specifically written into the IEP.
Later on Monday, when Ezri was having her OT appointment at Duke, I talked with the therapist about what was going on. The therapist, having many years of experience in the school system and knowing how the system works, was of the opinion that even though Ezri is in the lower percentiles, she wouldn’t qualify for services and that she was considered functional. She mentioned that often the school system won’t offer services for OT unless the child is at a level about 1/2 of their age (for Ezri that would be a 3 year old). So at that point, I felt it was wasted effort to continue to fight for additional assistance for Ezri on her IEP, and decided to stop worrying about it so much. I am in school full time myself, and it’s just about impossible to keep up with that, three children, and the added needs for Ezri.
Tuesday morning was a pleasant surprise. I ran into the the OT at Ezri’s school, whom I mistook for the resource teacher (they are both very similar looking women whom I’ve only met a couple of times and I had not seen the OT since last spring) and started talking to her as if continuing the conversation with the resource teacher the day before. She identified herself and then said that she wanted to call an IEP meeting for Ezri herself as there were some OT areas where she considered Ezri non-functional for the kindergarten classroom. She wanted to have OT added back to the IEP, and I was thrilled to hear it. Having the OT included in a revised IEP, if that happens, won’t be such a struggle now, and will make it easier for me to work to get the other parts changed. I had been so close to giving up on the whole issue, so it is times like these when I feel there’s a higher power steering us in the right direction.
In other news with Ezri, we have noticed some faint signs of puberty resuming after a trial of being off Lupron for a year. We had a doctor appointment this morning where it was confirmed, so she will be starting her Lupron injections again at some point in the near future.