Last Friday, we were notified by T’s child and youth worker that a parent had complained to the teacher, specifically about T not giving a classmate personal space.
I read this entry in her daily log entry late Saturday evening after experiencing the high of a wonderful Halloween celebration with T.
It bummed me out, as I recalled unpleasant memories of T’s Montessori pre-school and when the board booted him out after a parent complained about his behaviour to the owner.
Thankfully, things are different at his new school – a public school – because we have a wonderful team of advocates, including his principal, teachers and child and youth worker.
Part of this support includes the development and implementation of an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
As described by our school board, an IEP is “a written plan that describes special education programs and/or services for a student. It is based on a student’s profile of strengths and needs.”
According to the US Department of Education, “the IEP creates an opportunity for teachers, parents, school administrators, related services personnel, and students (when appropriate) to work together to improve educational results for children with disabilities.”
The school offered us the option to participate in the development of the IEP and we gladly accepted. The school asked who else we wanted to be consulted and we asked for T’s behavioural therapist to be included, because she has valuable insights from working with T.
During the consultation with T’s teacher, child and youth worker, and principal, we talked about T’s strengths, areas of needs and our goals for him.
We identified the following as T’s strengths:
- Visual learner
- Hands-On learner
- Independence on preferred tasks
- Gross motor skills
- Rote learner
- Motivation through special interests
We identified the following as T’s areas of need:
- Behaviour management
- Self regulation
- Social skills
- Attention and focus
- Fine motor skills
We conveyed our goals in two broad categories:
- Academic – e.g. building pre-reading, pre-math, handwriting skills
- Social – As outlined in the list of areas of need above
T’s teacher provided us the draft IEP for review end of last week and it nicely captured what we discussed.
An IEP also outlines the school’s goals for T, along with the teaching strategies and their assessment method to gauge T’s progress.
I like that each goal is realistic and measurable. For example, “T will improve his ability to follow class rules without adult support at least 60% of the time.”
We were pleased with the IEP and signed off on it. We look forward to checking in on T’s progress with his teacher throughout the year.
I’ve read stories of special needs parents who have found it to be a struggle to get an IEP or for it to be developed and implemented.
So we consider ourselves to be blessed to have amazing people on Team T, as we affectionately refer to them as.
We are also thankful for T’s amazing child and youth worker.
We only have her support this year, so we hope for T to get as much mileage from her one-on-one support as possible. And we are already seeing a difference and growth in him.
She uses a daily log book to document and to provide us with updates on T’s progress.
She lists three daily goals for T and she reports how he does with them; a check mark for when he meets these goals at the various daily activities and an X for when he doesn’t meet them.
The hubby and I appreciate her concise, clear and honest feedback. I like that she doesn’t downplay T’s challenging moments, as it doesn’t do anyone, especially T, any good.
What we feel especially thankful for is that she is a champion for T. She addresses his challenging behaviour, but she also celebrates his daily victories and she sees the big picture – which is all about the incremental gains.
When we reached out to her about the parent who complained to T, she was reassuring in her response and kept us focused on the larger picture. Really, we couldn’t ask for more.
If it’s anything the last few years of school has taught us is that it will be a winding road with T.
But we remind ourselves that we are covering new ground every day – no matter how incremental – and leaving a paved road of lessons learned and mostly positive memories behind us.
There is always a reason to stay the course and look ahead with optimism.
And with T’s IEP, we have an additional tool – a roadmap – for the school year ahead.