Monday, February 29, 2016

Progress is being made

UPDATE: Meeting with the school went well. They have agreed to do testing on little man. They have agreed to do a psychological evaluation, OT evaluation and speech evaluation per my request. YIPPEE! Well I say that now anyway. 

I spoke with a special education attorney FREE of CHARGE about the whole school situation as well. Folks, I'm not kidding around this time. I am putting my youngest son back in school despite the many reasons I chose to pull the other kids out of school. I am not, however, going to go in with my eyes closed, nor am I going to be a pushover this time around. I told the school that the ONLY reason I'm putting him back in school is because his learning disabilities are not being addressed properly at home. I do not know how to teach someone with dysgraphia or with dyslexia or both. Plus he has so many other issues and I'm afraid I'm doing him, myself and my other kids a disservice by not at least being willing to try public school as an option. So he's going back to public school. That being said, here's what the attorney shared with me. 

First, she highly recommended that I audio tape all IEP intake and other meetings and can do this by giving the school 24 hour notice. 

Second she said that if I chose not to retain her that I should, at the very least, hire an advocate. DONE! I had actually retained one prior even meeting with the school. My advocate is the one that convinced me to give public school a try for my little man. 

Third, she explained to me that if I am not happy with the results of any of the testing there is a way that I can request that the school district pay for private testing and consultations! This is good to know just in case. 

Fourth she said to request any cancellations in services in writing prior to the services being cancelled. 

Lastly she said to take his diagnoses, especially the bipolar and the traumatic brain injury, to the school in writing and have them put it in his file because these are qualifiers for IEPS in our county. This is good because if/when my son gets into trouble he will need it on file that he has a mental illness so they don't just deal out a punishment without trying to first help him!

All in all I'm very pleased about the results of both meetings. The school has until May of this year to schedule all of the testing and get results. Cross your fingers for me!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Heading to an appointment with the local elementary school tomorrow. I'm hoping that all my ducks are in a row. This is our second time attempting to place our youngest son in the local public school. Our little man is 8 years old. He attended the school for Kindergarten. He had an  IEP, (Individualized Education Plan) for the entire time he attended public school. I pulled him out of the public school when the school officials tried to discontinue his IEP.

Little man is special. He has a few mental health diagnosis's. First and foremost he has Autism Spectrum Disorder. He's very high functioning and really only displays characteristics on occasion. Although as he ages those characteristics are getting more pronounced than they used to be. He hyper focuses on certain things, rockets, forts and spears are the 3 big ones right now. He likes to run and dance and isn't afraid to "bust a move" in some random place for anyone to see. He also likes to bang his head and spin. 

Anyway, back to the whole school thing. When little man was 6, I put him in school. I made sure to prepare the school by having him tested for learning disabilities and sharing with them his multiple diagnosis' and his many behavior issues. I was able to get him an IEP with a few provisions in place to help him cope with the rigors of school. He did well in Kindergarten. Other than his daily raging after getting off of the school bus and the morning fits getting on the school bus, he did well in school. We suffered for that at home. It's my personal theory that he worked so hard to maintain good behavior at school for 7 hours that he lost it when he finally got off the bus and was in a comfortable environment. The school characterized this as an "at home issue" and questioned my parenting. I was not happy! By the third IEP meeting I had learned that the provisions that I thought were in place were not really in place. His "quiet space" in the classroom was instead a supervised walk in the school hallway. There wasn't anything in place to help him with the hyper activity. As a result he visited the nurse frequently with assorted bumps and bruises obtained in the classroom while "running around." The school officials failed to recognize his anxiety as well. He went to the nurse even more frequently for headaches and stomaches. They never did put two and two together. At the final IEP meeting the entire cast of characters at the meeting, except for myself, decided that an IEP was no longer needed for little man. I refused to sign off on that and removed little man from school that same afternoon.

Fast forward a year and a half. Little man's been at home with his brother, sister and myself. He's been doing well. He is reading after struggling for over a year trying to get the hang of it. He is writing although I'm certain he has dysgraphia. The problem is it's a daily battle! The first year we had a lot of down time. We struggled to get a schedule together that worked for everyone, especially little man. His outbursts took up much of our school day and then some. His learning issues started to rear their ugly heads this school year. We brought in an ABA therapist. Best decision I've made for him! Despite the almost daily therapy doing school work is still a struggle. 

Little Man's Daily school schedule.
He updates this daily with the subjects I have listed for him
on my planner. He gets points for doing the things on the
(shown to the left)

Checklist of things he must do to earn points
while completing each school subject. 

With the help of the therapist we've implemented a visual schedule that gives little man some flexibility in his school day. That, used in conjunction with the schedule I have for his schoolwork has helped us to stay relatively on track for the school year. However it's still a daily battle. By the time I finish school with little man I have almost no time to do work with my 12 year old or to help my 17 year old senior with his final course work for high school. I most definitely don't have time for anything I need to get done. 4 PM rolls around and I'm mentally drained. It's exhausting. For this reason we have decided to give public school another try.
Binder with Language Arts and Math done by
little man this school year. 

I am meeting with some of the staff at the school tomorrow because I've requested testing for little man. Apparently this is not a normal thing for a parent to request. Who knew! In order for the school to determine where he needs testing or what he needs testing for I am bringing samples of his school work from September 2015 to yesterday. I've got his therapy progress binders and also his goals worksheet. I've also got his psychological evaluations, which the school pretty much disregarded two years ago and I've got new information from his new doctors. Hmmmm, what am I missing? Nothing I hope! Wish me luck because I'm freaking out!