Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Max's Kindergarten IEP

I have taught now for 13 years.  I have been to tons of IEP meetings and have met with hundreds of parents for Parent Teacher Conferences.  But nothing can really prepare you for your own child's first parent teacher conference.  It is so weird to sit on the other side of the table.  As I drove to Max's school I was nervous and had a pit in my stomach.  What were they going to say?  What are they thinking our home life is like?  Am I am bad parent?  Did we make the wrong decision to send him to Spectrum?  Do they love Max?  So many unanswered questions were racing through my head.

First, what is an Individual Education Plan or IEP?
Each IEP must be designed for one student and must be a truly individualized document. 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.
Both Max and Dexter qualify for an IEP because of their autism diagnosis and their inability to reach the state core curriculum without assistance.  Having an IEP can really help a child be successful.  I have seen it first hand in my own classroom, and with the proper accommodations and goals children really can be successful.  
One of Max's IEP goals is to be able to use scissors properly to cut out a circle.  They will practice first cutting straight lines and then slowly move toward the goal.  He has a year to complete the goal, but if the goal is met before the year mark then we can meet with the IEP team again and establish a new goal.  If the goal doesn't look like it will be met, we can either keep the goal or make a new one.  
Max has 2-3 IEP goals for math, speech, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and also social/emotional skills.  

Something that was very interesting at Max's IEP was learning that Max hasn't picked a dominant hand.  We thought for a while he was a lefty, but when you observe Max for long periods of time you notice he doesn't have a dominance.  This is typically established between ages 3-4.  His brain hasn't established dominance yet and will actually need OT/PT to help his brain.  It is really interesting how Max's brain works.  
If you want to read more about hand dominance and the brain here is a great blog post:  http://www.ot-mom-learning-activities.com/handedness.html

As Max continues to learn and develop his IEP will also change.  Currently Max is in an adaptive skills Kindergarten class.  He is lower on the Spectrum and has challenges that need more 1-on-1 care than other children his age, even at Spectrum. 
I am glad to know he is loved at Spectrum.  I have never felt more confident in the decision we made as a fmaily to send him to school there.

I am also glad that my first parent IEP is over.  I really had nothing to worry about. 
This is Max on his first day of school at Spectrum Academy.  Spectrum Academy is a k-12 charter school for students on the autism spectrum.