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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

That Time Again

It's that time of the year for us - the big IEP meeting is this afternoon. We had a meeting a few weeks ago to go over goals and where Kayla was on her strengths and weaknesses. Today we're discussing her placement for 1st grade.

It always feels so daunting to me because I know that ultimately I'm the one responsible for what is decided on in her IEP; it's not final until I sign it. Even though I'm Kayla's mom and I'm supposed to know what is 'best' for her - sometimes I just feel like I really don't know what is best. I don't know what placement is her least restrictive environment and I'm not sure how to accurately figure that out. There isn't a magic wand for me to wave and see in the future to let me know that 'ok this particular placement' is the one that will most benefit Kayla.

It seems from the moment you find out you have a child with special needs you're bombarded with 'full inclusion' and if you chose anything less you're letting down all those who have gone before and fought the fight for full inclusion. I like the idea of full inclusion. I like reading the articles, like this one, on how successful full inclusion worked for so-and-so. I like hearing that research and studies show that full inclusion greatly benefits those with and without disabilities. I like knowing that with the proper supports in place full inclusion can and does work. I'd like Kayla to be fully included.

But I've always said that although we will try for full inclusion and that's ideally what we'd like for Kayla, if that is not where she can be successful then we have to rethink her placement and do what is best for her. It's just at this time I'm having trouble figuring out what is best for Kayla.

I know she isn't academically with all the other soon-to-be first graders (so her work should be modified for her). I know she can't work independently in the classroom yet - she is easily distracted, has a short attention span, and has trouble staying on task, and focused, for longer periods.

She was fully included in her K classroom this year where there is the K teacher and assistant. The special ed teacher came in to the classroom to work with Kayla and then she had pull outs for speech and occupational therapy.

I've been told that at the IEP meeting this afternoon the team is recommending Kayla be in the "T.A.S.K. program." I'm not sure what that stands for or exactly what that means - it'll be explained to me in the meeting. I was told it is a mixture of 'inclusion and functional classrooms' and that type of classroom would probably benefit Kayla the most. The only problem is this program is not in every school - and not at her 'home school.'

The other issue is that we're moving to SC next month. I know her new school will have to follow Kayla's current IEP and provide what is on that until we have to do one for their district - and then we get to do this all over again. But if SC doesn't have a program like that, which I don't think they do, then I'm not sure what will happen.

When I was in SC a couple months ago I did call the district to ask about 'inclusion' and was told they don't necessarily have 'inclusion' classrooms, but if her IEP states she's to be in a regular 1st grade classroom that's where she'll be; and that every school has 'resource rooms.' But if she needs a special-needs class there are only 2 schools in the district which have those classrooms. Neither of those schools are Kayla's home school, so she would have to be bussed farther away, but that sounds like a self-contained classroom and I'm really not sure Kayla needs a self-contained classroom for 1st grade.

So my head is spinning with decisions to make and what I want written on the IEP. I'd like to see Kayla in a regular 1st grade classroom with a 1-on-1 aide. I think that would help her be the most successful.

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12 comments:

Kelly said...

I think you do know exactly what you want for Kayla, and you summed it up in the last couple of statements of this post! Good luck with the IEP meeting today, Michelle!! I am sure you will do fine!!

Tracy said...

Best of luck with the IEP. They are so intimidating! I know just where you are coming from. I have waffled back and forth for a year about what to do with Rachel. She was in a self contained classroom for kindergarten this past year and went into the regular kindergarten class for activities and recess. This coming year, she is doing K again and will be in the regular classroom 50% of the time. I first wanted to push for full inclusion, but she has done so well academically in the self contained class that I changed my mind by IEP time. I hope I am doing the right thing for her!

Mom24 said...

Ugh. Absolutely no advice, but plenty of compassion. I guess, in the long run, try to believe that things will work out, one way or another. First grade is important, but still and all it's "just" first grade. Ultimately, you make the choice and if you need to adjust down the road, you will. Good luck. (((Hugs)))

(Got my Yogurt goodies today, awesome! thanks!)

Becca said...

OMG, I'm feeling anxiety just reading this. I am now starting to feel the real insecurities and fears of full inclusion with Samantha, too, now that we've decided to put her into a "typical" pre-K program two days a week next year. What if she's not ready for Kindergarten after that? Will she be able to go to school with her neighborhood peers and be fully accepted by them as a classmate, or will she have to go to another school and come home to strange children who don't *really* know her?
I wish I had an answer for you, but I will be looking forward to hearing how things go for you and Kayla. You will ultimately make the right decision for her, as you can always make changes, whenever you need to, right?

Cate said...

It's so hard! I hope it goes well.

heather said...

It's so hard to have to make all of these decisions. It would be so nice if there was just one right answer but there isn't. I loved mainstreaming Morgan last year but we had an amazing teacher and aide. If it doesn't go as well this next year, I wouldn't hesitate to send her to the cluster classroom (at a different school about 20 minutes away from our home). My favorite thing about mainstreaming in the neighborhood school is that the kids in our neighborhood now know Morgan and go out of their way to talk to her. That never happened before she went to their school. The social benefits are huge. Good luck!

Christina said...

That is one of the hardest things for any parent. Alex has speech issues and I struggle with whether to put him in a speech therapy intensive preschool or not. Good luck!

Bailey's Leaf said...

In the end, I believe that you've come to a reasonable solution.

An IEP is a big deal. It is helpful in helping your child, but you are right-- in the end you have to sign it.

Prayers to you that you are able to work on a reasonable solution for all involved.

Tricia said...

Sounds to me you know exactly what you want and think K needs. In my training this weekend we learned that the LRE should always BEGIN with the gen. ed. classroom. There are always places to go if that doesn't work out. Some people say "we don't have inclusion classrooms" to mean they don't specify that the gen. ed class has kids with IEPs in them. If a school has inclusion classrooms, then they also have EXclusion classrooms, so I think they try to stay away from the terms. My new approach with Georgia is to put her in the absolute LRE first and see how she does. Give her a chance to shine. If she needs more, she will show/tell us in her way. I feel it's worth it to let her rise up rather than to assume she will sink down. Easier said than done, I KNOW!!! But I think Kayla will do great. Good luck. It is SO hard!!!!

Amy said...

Working with special needs students this year and then going through my own IEP this year with my son - I know what you are going through.

I wish I had answers for you or could help you out in some way but unfortunately what I know in one county is completely different from any other county or state for that matter.

I hope the meeting went well. I'll be waiting for another update. :-)

Good luck with the upcoming move!

starrlife said...

I agree with Tricia about the terminology. It shouldn't matter about "programs" it should be descriptive of exactly what a child needs to do best/balancing out the social needs as well. We repeated Kindergarten since we felt that it was better to repeat this grade and get a solid foundation plus with her b-day in Sept agewise she wasn't too far behind. I do not regret- it worked out well. We have a regular classroom setting with use of a resource room- a nice mix of one on one for specific academics and inclusion. The idea of FULL inclusion is variable and somewhat misleading. You have a good head on your shoulders and will do the right thing. But you are right about different states having different things- educational excellence widely varies and what you may have to fight for will to! Good luck!

Anne and Whitney: Up, Down and All Around said...

i hope someway you can get the iep to read that she can be in a full-inclusion 1st grade classroom with a one on one aide - that is probably hard to get, but maybe if that is the way the iep is written sc can and will follow it? best of luck with all of the decisions!!!!! you are doing such a great job with figuring out what is best for kayla :)