About a month ago, Julianna’s school finished her “re-evaluation.” This is required every three years under the IDEA, presumably to ensure that kids who are receiving expensive special ed services still need them.
Julianna entered the mid-kindergarten eval with a diagnosis of “young child with developmental delay,” a dx that does not carry into the elementary/secondary years (for obvious reasons). So, beginning mid-fall and lasting until Christmas or thereabouts, she underwent a battery of assessments for language, behavior, speech, motor, and academic skills. Even an IQ test, about which we were intensely curious. Hearing the number 60 was a bit of a reality check; it’s one thing to recognize that your child is and will always be delayed; it’s another to see it quantified. Somewhere deep inside, you keep hoping your kid will pull out a 69 and almost squeeze into the “normal” range.
In any case, the end result of this re-eval was–wait for it–an IEP meeting in which we went over the report and incorporated the results into a new plan. Ten people in the room, copies for everyone–nauseating amounts of paper, because the god Privacy forbids electronic dissemination. We moved quickly, with many interruptions caused by the three children in the room (one of whom was trying to eat every toy block in sight), so it wasn’t until the formal report came that I sat down to really read and process it in depth.
When your child goes off to school, you automatically lose a certain intimacy. No matter what you do, you can never quite pry out of them what their day is like now. Their routines are unremarkable to them, so they don’t see anything to share. You ask “What did you learn in science today?” and you hear: “We didn’t have science.” You know they must have, they just didn’t recognize it as such, but without a beginning point there’s no way to pry the layers back and understand exactly what’s going on in the hours he or she is away from you.
If it’s that hard with a verbal child, imagine the dearth of information when your child doesn’t communicate by speech at all, or at least, only at the most surface level. So this report was really enlightening. It didn’t tell me about the school days or the routines, but every so often a nugget would pop out that I recognized so clearly, I could picture the entire scene:
“It was often unclear whether she was simply repeating the presented words rather than making an attempt to respond to the items.” Check.
“When asked to write numerals in sequence, Julianna wrote the number 1. When asked to write other numbers, she wrote the number 1 again.” Ouch.
“Julianna would sometimes point to several pictures on the page and was reminded that she could only point to one. This test was given over 2 sessions as she would start pointing randomly.” And giggling with a sly Miss Charming look on her face, no doubt.
“Julianna appears to enjoy socializing” (you think?) “and will wave hi and bye to many adults and peers.” Yup.
“She is a risk-taker.” Uh, yeah.
Concurrent with this is the formal discernment by the Catholic school administration as to whether they can realistically serve Julianna there. I am so torn on the subject. I want her in an environment where faith formation is “in the air,” and I want to have one PTA, one fundraiser, one school calendar to deal with.
And yet…she really needs speech intervention every day, and I will have to transport her myself (barring carpools, but you can’t count on that.) The public school has been wonderful–I love all the people. Her speech therapist calls her “chickadee,” and it makes me all warm and gooey inside. Her para and her teacher are particularly wonderful, and all the necessary infrastructure is right there. Her classmates are incredibly sweet to her. It has been a wholly positive experience, and even considering moving her feels disloyal.
It’s a good position to be in, so don’t take these reflections as complaint. But this is a part of the special needs parenting process, so I share it for the benefit of…well, whoever needs it.
I am being paged for a game of Spot-It. Bowing out for the day.