Tuesday, October 28, 2014
I Survived Another IEP
Imagine sitting at a huge conference table, by yourself, facing a school principal, vice principal, two special ed teachers, a mainstream class teacher, a psychologist, speech therapist, nurse and orthopedic impairment special teacher. Each one takes a turn explaining the results of the evaluation they did on your child. The results, the child is average or just below average in a couple categories so she's doesn't qualify for special education, but so low in all the other categories that there isn't enough of a point spread between her low cognitive score and the low speech score so she doesn't qualify for speech either, even though she's got a measurable and profound receptive and expressive speech disorder. The verdict: placement in a mainstream 5th grade classroom 90% of the time and 10% per day pull-out help in math. No extra time for tests even though she timed out on every test requiring reading aloud and her verbal ability is far below her age, due to being an English language learner as well as her processing disorder.
She will be expected to do long division and multiplication even though she's only been in the US for 3.5 years and had never been to school or even held a crayon until then. But they'll pull her out of class 30 minutes a day to help with math. I the past 3.5 years, she's learned to speak English, read, write and do simple math, yet, because of her age, they want to place her into 5th grade. Oh, she only wears size 7 clothes because she's so tiny even though she's 10.5 years old.
My tongue unleashed itself and I said to the school nurse, "This is a joke!" Only to be reprimanded by the female principal and lectured on how much time they all spent working on evaluating my child and writing the reports. Well, excuse me, but don't my tax dollars pay them to do that?
What I really was aiming my comment at anyway was the fact that the State of California has set a very narrow way of evaluating and classifying a child who qualifies for special education. It's really a joke!
At least the professionals as this school didn't try to put her in with the autistic and mentally retarded kids as did the middle school with my other child. And some very kind people at the high school took me aside and told me that they can't meet my eldest's needs and to keep homeschooling her and that they'd ever put a non-autistic or non-mentally retarded child in a class especially designed for those kids and their needs.
I would have been happy to put her into a third grade mainstream class, with pull-out help, and she would have thrived. But fifth grade? NO WAY! Why set her up for failure? Isn't her self-esteem fragile enough due to the differences she lives with because of her special need? What fifth graders are still playing with baby dolls and Barbies? There is only one Caucasian child in each class, if that, one or two Hmong and the rest are mostly Hispanic, almost all are from very low-income families, which means very little parental education and strong cultural identification. What will she have in common to talk about and do? I'm sure she'd find something with the third graders, but with fifth graders?
Please weigh in! There are only two reasons I went through this: I didn't think I was doing a good enough job (now I realize I am, but that the past year working on the house and in our new town made me lose perspective), and, the pressure for the girls to have more socialization. Compared to our old neighborhood and being new in town, we don't get out much, but I see that changing. We attend church every Sunday and the girls have weekly church activities. Last year, they attended a private school several days a week for several hours for socialization and this summer did a week of sport camp. We take every opportunity we can to meet new people, but people have busy lives, so it's not as often as we'd like, especially when the family's are public schoolers. I have gotten in touch with our local homeschooling community, but I will soon be working and limits my daytime availability, which is why it's nice when my kids can sleep in and we can go out in the evenings or just have family time. Outdoor holiday ice skating is about to begin and, if Jie Jie starts public school, she'll need to be in bed every night by 7pm so she can get up at 5:45am. When is she supposed to have some family time? When is she supposed to have play time? A teacher and school nurse said she'll have plenty of recess, but what about time playing with her own toys and her sisters?
Homeschooling friends out there, please tell me your feelings about socialization. I can take my girls anywhere and they have a great time, answer anyone when spoken too, get silly like regular kids, and have fun with other kids and adults. Right now, though, none have a special friend because it's hard to break into a new area. I believe American kids are WAY OVER socialized and some great books are being written about it, such and Reclaiming Your Kids. My girls do have language and experience barriers as do all the kids who spent most of their childhoods in orphanages, but they are better behaved than the average American kid and much more polite, so people like them.
What sort of activities do your children participate in? Especially those who were adopted as much older kids and/or have special needs.
My girls had plenty of "socialization" in their orphanages. It's family time for now, but with adulthood looming for two of them in 2 and 4 years, there has to be some introduction into mainstream society too where they can learn the things of interest (to a reasonable extent) to people in their peer group and understand and follow current events. I know that most outsiders looking in think homeschoolers don't get enough socialization, but these days it's almost impossible for anyone not to be socialized enough.