We had an informative meeting last Thursday. I was SO glad that Todd came along, because there is no WAY I could have relayed the information to him. For some reason I have been avoiding writing this. I don't know why. Usually when I'm avoiding something I'm a bit afraid of it. Not that I'm afraid of writing, but afraid of what's coming. There are a lot of options available at the middle school and we are trying to figure out which will be the best for Daniel. Todd and I are getting a tour this Friday of the middle school so we can have some information stored away for our March 25 IEP. It sounds like it is going to be an overwhelming one for me because a lot of discussion will take place during the meeting about placements and we'll decide then. Although I will not sign anything at the IEP. I never do. It is hard for me to process information auditorily. I heavily rely on Todd to translate for me when I have no idea what's going on. It is something I've learned about myself, I do not process information very well or very quickly. It explains a lot about my childhood and college! But however you process things it is still my advice to everyone who goes to IEP's to not sign it then. You are allowed time to go home and process the information. TAKE IT. But after a certain amount of days it will go into effect without any action taken. Be aware of the laws.
The past several IEP's have pretty much been set when we walk in the door. So this will be a bit different. It is always an anxious time for me even when I know EXACTLY what is going to happen. So with the big changes next year and not knowing what's coming, I should be a big fat mess. In terms of support I have no idea what is going on and that really makes me nervous. I have heard wonderful things about the middle school, but Daniel has always had one para pro assigned to him exclusively. Even when others have had that change a bit we have been able to keep that in tact. He really has only had 3 parapros since 1st grade. One didn't even last all of 1st grade and that is a huge nightmare story! The next one was awesome and we had her through the end of 2nd grade. She got "bumped" (it is a union thing and someone with more time in took her spot) and we got Mindy, who we have had since 3rd grade. For the most part, we've been very very lucky.
From what I can gather next year, there are different people who sort of specialize in an area. So he might have one para during math and english, then depending on where he goes it will change. If this is the case, it should be interesting to say the least. They have co teaching in the classes meaning it is a general ed class and they may have a special ed teacher come in and co teach. It is the best of both worlds, extra help and staying with your peers. I hate not having total control of the situation. It leaves me feeling nervous and aggitated. Some of the decisions we have coming are tough. Do we send him into social studies even though the language completely escapes him? Do we double up on math because he seems to have the apptitude to learn this? The question of "where does he fit?" always seems to leave us at a loss. Because really he doesn't present like many other kids on the spectrum in our district. He is more classically autistic and most are more aspergers. But here he is, doing the math with everyone else. Obviously you never know if you are making the right decisions when you are making them. When he was in PPI and someone said, "are you thinking the basic classroom route or general ed?" We didn't hesitate with general ed. We didn't know what we were up against with back then. Probably being totally naive helped us make that leap. Sometimes that's better! I wonder where we would be had we said the basic classroom? Not necessarily worse off, or better off. Just different. It is one of those sliding door decisions that you don't know how things would have turned out differently. Maybe I don't want to know. I'd like to think we have made the "right" decisions along the way for Daniel. Maybe there are certain things, like his group speech on Mondays that we could have started earlier. Maybe they have worked because we waited until we did. I can and do drive myself crazy with these thoughts.
I can feel some of those decisions coming again later this month. I will continue to mull them over and make myself nuts with the different scenarios. When I brought up middle school to Daniel the other day the only thing he said is, "are my kids going to go with me?" Meaning all of the wonderful peers he has in his grade. I assured him that they are. That right there shows he has come a long way. He has gone from asking if his para is coming with him to if his peers will stay the same. I guess that means we've made SOME of the right decisions? Yes, I'm sure we have.
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