Yesterday Kirby and I headed to the school for two IEP/Progress meetings. One for Zachary and one for Andrew - back to back. I'll be honest, if this had happened a year ago with Andrew's old "team" I would not have made it through both meetings.
However, this year is so different! We have a GREAT team of teachers working with both our kids.
Zachary is easy enough, he doesn't qualify for special education services and most of his stuff is attention and social. We just meet with his regular teacher, his guidance counselor and the woman who organizes the IEP meetings and the principal (who attends all IEP meetings).
We were told that Zachary is the worst child they have ever worked with, he talks back, is unruly, not very bright and, overall, they just don't like him...JUST KIDDING! It was the exact opposite, actually. They are very happy with him! His teacher has made some "accommodations" for him (seating, etc) and he has done incredibly well with finishing up his work and keeping organized. Socially he is blossoming. He has made, at least, one good friend whom he talks on the phone with for hours and gets together with almost every weekend. He is still struggling with writing and Mrs. Tierney doesn't think it has anything to do with an inability to write - more like an inability to get his thoughts down as quickly as he needs to (in other words, he has so many thoughts in his head that his hand can't keep up with him). We are talking about teaching him some keyboarding skills to make it a little easier for him (I'll be honest, that is one of my biggest problems with writing, thoughts come faster than I can write them - this is why I love blogging). Overall, Zach is doing very well. We were very happy with the outcome of his meeting.
On to Andrew. Andrew's meeting consists of two OTs, one speech path, one special ed instructor, his regular teacher, the IEP lady and the principal. It is a big table with lots of people who have lots to say. Fortunately, they do a great job at organizing everything.
His teacher says that he is doing very well in the classroom. He is READING (I'm SO EXCITED) and she is very impressed with that. He is still having some troubles with math due to his lack of attention/focus, but he is still moving along. She said that it is still evident that he needs an aide with him at all times, mostly for safety reasons (taking off, putting inappropriate things in his mouth). He is also getting along well with the other kids and playing with them at a, mostly, age appropriate level.
His OTs are working with both fine and gross motor skills. Tracing shapes and writing his name are both big goals and his is getting there - although he is easily frustrated by the task. Riding a tricycle has been a HUGE accomplishment this year! We tried all summer to get him to ride his trike and it was too hard for him - now he is riding all around the gym and even maneuvering around cones!
His speech therapist is working on a lot of social stories and he is learning about "nice words" and "look with our eyes". He is also learning how to hold an appropriate conversation with turn taking and such. Andrew's vocabulary is off the chart but he doesn't always use it appropriately and he doesn't always have the ability to have spontaneous conversation. She will also be starting a social story about Mommy walking Andrew to school. I will start walking him one day a week rather than the 2 minute bus ride everyday. We are going to slowly try to wean him off the bus ride.
I think, at one moment in time or another, just about every person sitting at the table during Andrew's meeting, had tears in their eyes. Tears of joy, of course. This was huge for Kirby and I. Everyone at that table just LOVES working with Andrew and they have all remarked on what a wonderful kid he is, how polite he is and how many strides and gains he has made these past 6 months.
To have a group of people that really want what is best for your child is amazing! In the past we have had people on his team that want nothing but what is least expensive for the school district. We had to fight for every thing that he got and I always left those meetings not knowing exactly what was decided and feeling about 2 inches tall. This year is so different. They all love him, that is evident and, most importantly, they all want him to do well and they work to ensure that it happens!
Last night this lead to Kirby and I talking about how grateful we are to have Andrew's pediatrician.
Andrew started receiving early intervention (EI) services at 9 months (I fought and fought and fought with his GP and finally told her that if she didn't do something I would find somebody that would - we found his pediatrician Dr. Heath who did something). By age 3 he didn't qualify for EI anymore (because the testing is so black and white - while he could speak it wasn't appropriate language). I KNEW he needed more, but there was no way to get anything else without a diagnosis. I went to his pediatrician crying, begging for help. He recognized that Andrew needed more and diagnosed him PDD-NOS. Essentially, he told me that before I left his office that day, Andrew would qualify - and he did.
Had Andrew not continued his services at that time I don't know where we would be. He continues to make strides because he has an amazing foundation. He has that foundation because I fought for it and Dr. Heath fought for it. I can't imagine where he would be today if we didn't get those things...
Andrew is exactly where he is suppose to be. He is learning exactly what he is suppose to learn. He is exactly the little boy that God intended for him to be. We are so blessed!