Well, in the grand scheme of things I feel that her IEP was handled amazingly well. One thing I haven’t really touched on is how outlandish her original IEP goals were. They were set by Child Find… without our input… after spending a combined total of 3 hours with my daughter. I still remember making eye contact and then looking at Neil in a way that said “Is she kidding?!” after each goal was read. We told her at the time that they seemed far-fetched but alas they remained. A few highlights were: 1)Alyssa will get her jacket on and off without assistance. 2)Alyssa will drink from an open cup without assitance. 3)Alyssa will identify 50 nouns using 2 adjectives. I mean, I’m not a pessimist. I don’t think she will NEVER do any of these things. However? I think expecting her to conquer all of that in a year was simply setting her up for failure.
Fast-forward to this year. I walked into that room expecting it to be her teacher & therapists as well as the general education teacher. Instead? Her teacher said “I think this is the most people I’ve ever had at an IEP!” LOL! We had the teacher, the aide, the gen ed teacher, the nurse, the nurse that was going to be taking over for her, the OT, the ST, the PT, the director who oversees the PT/OT in the district, the guy from transportation, the vice principal, and myself. It was a full house for certain.
As we set up to begin the meeting I felt the need to preface. Since I’d gone in thinking that everyone outside of transportation would know my daughter I wanted to let them know why I elected for her to not be there. I just briefly told them that although we want to work hard to push Alyssa to the grandest of her abilities that we didn’t deem it necessary for her to hear about all she wasn’t doing. Everyone understood and I felt more at peace to be able to talk in a manner that I wouldn’t have if Alyssa was in the room.
Overall? Everything went swimmingly! The goals they set seemed realistic yet exciting! Everyone was very positive and excited for what the remainder of the year would bring. We are really going to work on incorporating feeding into her daily routine at school which I think she will really enjoy at this point. Speech is working closely with her with the iPad and I got some good information on some apps so that we can utilize the same tools at home as at school.
As we rounded the table and got to transportation he asked if I had any issues. Well, about 2 weeks ago Alyssa had arrived at school covered in puke and no one on the bus saw it happen. Awesome. I had since talked to both of the aides, her teacher called transportation, and I felt like things had been resolved. I said quite simply “Nope. I think we’re good now that the bus aides have the understanding that Alyssa is the reason the are there.” We all talked for a few minutes… and then? It happened. The transportation guy said something to the effect of “While Alyssa is the reason the aide was put on the bus… they are also responsible for the rest of the kids on the bus.” I felt my WHOLE body get warm. I wanted to fly over the table. Every other child on Alyssa’s bus rode the bus without an aide from August until December. You know why? Oh yes…because they don’t qualify for an aide. We had to fight tooth and nail. Typically? I’m pretty laid back. However, transportation makes my mama bear come out like nothing else. These people have my child when I cannot see her. I took a deep breath and replied: “I’m trying to think of a calm way to reply to that statement, but I’m coming to terms with the fact I’m just going to have to be overly blunt with you for a moment. I’m going to go ahead and call BS on that.” His eyes grew to the size of quarters. LOL. I could tell he didn’t know what to say… so I continued: ” There is not a single other student on that bus who requires an aide. Surely I don’t want them neglected if their is an issue. However, I was told REPEATEDLY by several people from transportation that unless there was extenuating circumstances there was no reason for an aide. That the bus drivers are trained to handle non-aide situations. That unless my child was proven medically fragile she didn’t get an aide. Now? The aide is for everyone?” You could feel the air suck out of the room. He said “Well, sometimes although individual kids don’t qualify for an aide they do as a group due to group needs.” Yeah… I *almost* lost it. That was the point my hands started shaking. I looked at the teacher and said “Please… correct me if I’m wrong. However, the other kids have the same driver they’ve had all year? correct? The driver that each of their parents put them on the bus with without an aide for months?!” She nodded. He began to speak. I cut him off. I said “OK. The fact of the matter is? You, as a group at transportation, need to pick one way or the other. The reason I’m calling BS? Is due to the fact that the last IEP we had when the guy found out that there was an aide in the afternoon? He removed the aide THAT DAY before school even had a chance to let out. Obviously these kids don’t qualify as a group.” I was livid. I don’t like having to get to that point. I could feel myself start to shake. At that point the supervisor for the therapists requested that we move forth. It was good. I’d said my peace. He wasn’t in a position to change anything… and really? I did it without crying! WHEE!!
So, the meeting drew to a close with a steady plan in mind. I think the year to follow will be a great one for her. She’s got goals laid out in front of her and she’s got the drive to make it!! I’m so proud of our little lady!