Thank you all for sharing in the lives of our three amazing children- Mairead, Jack, and Ben. We hope you visit often!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

IEP Meeting

We had a meeting today to discuss the observation done by the schools and to re-visit Mairead's IEP. We came to a decision that I am not thrilled with, but that I can live with. They are going to give her a spot in a REGULAR ED preschool program (through EvenStart) for 1.5 hours, 3 days per week. She will continue to get the 60min of speech that she has now.

The benefits of this program are that the teachers are "Highly Qualified" (as determined by the state) teachers, and that one teacher used to be a SpEd teacher. Also, placement in this program gives somewhat preferential consideration for placement in regular preschool in the fall. This is important because the school I want for her is tough to get in to. Also, the teachers are free to refer her back to the SpEd program if they feel she needs additional testing or help. The 3 day per week part is nice because it gives her more of a routine. And, this can start pretty much immediately, which is better than waiting for neuropsych, waiting for mediation, etc. The immediacy was a big selling point. I am tired of her getting no help from the public schools and she needs more structure. Her current school is very warm, happy, loving, etc, but pretty laid back. I think she needs more structure and more of a 'push.'

The things that are less than great are 1- that the time is T-W-Th 1-2:30. Exactly in the time of the boys' nap... No idea how I am going to get around that and transportation is not provided because it is not a SpEd classroom. 2-I have to pull her from the school she goes to now. They cannot provide her with the support/instruction she needs, but I know she likes it there and is comfortable, so once again, I have to take her away from people she loves and a place that is familiar.

The worst part of the meeting is that they are GROSSLY underestimating the needs she has. One woman (pre-K SpEd teacher) told me that I should hesitate to label her as 'special needs' until we see how she does in preschool. To which I replied, "She had a stroke. I would say that is a pretty special need." I was bullshit. Don't even think of telling me this kid is typical or doesn't have unique circumstances/needs. So, while I can live with the offer they made, their refusal to acknowledge her serious need is unacceptable. We will have to meet every school year to revise her IEP, and until they accept that she has a serious need, we are going to be in opposition at every one of those meetings. I am trying to see the big picture of helping her NOW so that we can enable her to be successful in the future, but I seem to be alone on this.

I don't have the energy to type it all out, but about 15 minutes in to it I knew they were not going to offer anything so I interrupted someone and said, "It seems that you are not going to put her in a preschool program, and if that is the case, we can just go to mediation and not waste anyone's time."

Everyone kind of froze and seemed pretty surprised that I just threw that down. That's when they came up with the offer to put her in the Even Start program. There was a lot more discussion, debate, crying (by me), and restraint (by Dave, who wanted to throw something at the woman running the meeting), etc, including me asking how it was ethical for them to deny this kid services when they know that they have the ability to help her. No one answered that.

The Speech-Language Pathologist was awesome. Mairead sees her once a week and she 'gets' it. She made some recommendations for goals, etc, and expressed her numerous concerns about Mairead. No one really seemed to care, but she at least went to bat for us. As I was trying to decide what to do, she told me that the EvenStart program was a good one and that it would be a good place to start until I get the neuropsych report, etc, and could have more data. I trust her, so I said ok.

I agreed to this because it is better than nothing. And, I told them, "I will accept this because it is better than nothing, and because she needs something now, but we need to revisit this after the neuropsych report arrives." Oh, of course, we are looking forward to that, blah blah.

I guess that's it... I will probably think of more throughout the day. It was painful. I actually said at one point, "I feel like I am in the Twilight Zone here. You have the ability and resources to help this kid and you won't do it." Again... crickets...

Oh- and I brought up things like, "She doesn't know how old she is. She can't tell me what she wants for Christmas because she doesn't 'get' Christmas. She does not know how to tell you her name, or my name. She is not potty trained, she can't tell you what she did at school." They tell me that is all PRETTY TYPICAL BEHAVIOR FOR A THREE YEAR OLD. On what planet is that????

Beyond frustrating.

So, that's where we stand right now. We'll have to wait and see how this plays out and what the neuropsych eval says. Thanks for being so supportive- all of this has been incredibly difficult for us (me, Dave, my parents, and everyone who loves our little girl) and we just want to feel like we are doing everything we can for our daughter.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Real Thanksgiving 2010

On Thursday morning, we loaded the kids into the van and headed west to celebrate Thanksgiving at Grandma and Grandpa's house. The kids were great in the car and we were able to make excellent time. We didn't even have to stop! The kids were excited to see Grandm and Grandpa (and Rosie) when we arrived. Soon after, Aunt Ryane, Uncle Dave, and Rachael came over and Mairead was just thrilled to see her cousin. She remembers that she had so much fun playing with Rachael last time!

Grandma made a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner, and thanks to good timing of naps, Dave and I were able to enjoy a good 20 minutes of it without kids on our laps.

During the visit, we managed to get a rare picture of me with all three kids... no easy feat! Jack is on the right in this one.

The kids had a lot of fun playing with their aunt, uncle, and cousin.

The next day, Grandma and Grandpa hosted a Holiday Kick-off party so that we could visit with more family. We were thrilled to see everyone-- our kids had THREE great-grandparents at the party- how cool is that?

Dave's cousin, Kandi, was in charge of the crafts and brought some really cute projects for the kids to do.

Aunt Barbie helped Ben with his Christmas list.

The kids used glue, paint, markers, and stickers to make some really neat decorations and cards. Thanks for all of your hard work on that, Kandi! I was impressed!

During craft time, Jack seated himself at the desk and seemed quite the executive.

The girls made ornaments with their Christmas lists on them. They have both been very good this year!

The kids tried candy canes for the first time. Needless to say, they were a big hit. Right, Ben?

Mairead did a great job of playing with the other kids and of handling all of the excitement. It was really nice to see her jump right in and interact with her cousins of all ages. Rachael was a huge help in showing Mairead how to play some games and of serving as an example. She even showed Mairead how to do some of the craft projects. Thanks, Rachael!

Thanks to all of our NY family for a great visit. We are so grateful that so many of you came to see us on Friday... I just wish I had more time for taking pictures! We loved seeing all of you and especially loved seeing so many of the kids together... thanks to Jake, Gracie, Rachael, Nathan, Noah, and Eli for a fun time!
And, thanks to all of their moms and dads for bundling up the little ones and coming over. We hope that you all enjoy the rest of the holiday season, and that Santa is good to everyone!