Courtney’s annual IEP meeting is tomorrow. It was at last year’s annual meeting that they shocked us by telling us they no longer will have an extended self-contained structured teaching class but instead she was going be in a blended extended day class. I don’t even think “shock” is the right word for how we felt. I was livid! I immediately found an advocate to help us with the fight we were about to embark.
A year later and we can say we have been pleasantly surprised on how well she can tolerate the larger class setting. She continues to be happy going to school and she has handled the longer day followed by more therapy like a champ. All of which we couldn’t be happier about.
So why am I so nervous about tomorrow? Because as much as some things have gone well, I still don’t think it’s the best placement for her. My advocate and her therapists have observed her in the blended setting and in each case, they reported to Joe and I that she is happy but she is not being challenged. She is not an active participant in the blended part of her day. In each of these observations she wasn’t expected to do anything but sit during the circle time activity, she could leave centers as she pleased even though the “typical” students had to stay for a designated time, and not much fostering of independence in classroom routines. Report like that cause me to question her placement.
“But wait, Erin, you have shared countless posts of the progress she is making…” Yes, she is making HUGE gains. I hear Courtney’s sweet little voice on a daily basis! She handled a huge change in communication systems like a pro! She is starting to follow one step directions! But don’t forget, Courtney is in 15 hours of private therapy. 15 hours of 1-1 therapy that drills her in the exact areas we are seeing improvement in. I am not at all saying school did not help with that. I’m sure it was a combination of school and therapies.
At this point, we don’t expect placement to change for next year. What makes me nervous about tomorrow is that I’m hearing the district is going to follow the inclusion model through out elementary school. She has proven a lot can happen in a year. Maybe this coming year she will show that she can handle more inclusion once in Kindergarten. But in the mean time, I can’t help but worry about the education my daughter is going to receive. So in the mean time, I will continue to be the advocate that Courtney deserves. I don’t want to be, but if I have to be that sleep deprived, non-caffeinated special needs mom that comes to all meetings with boxing gloves (aka: my awesome advocate) then I will.