Thursday, January 26, 2012


For those of you not in the know - the IEP stands for the Individualized Education Plan.  The key word being I N D I V I D U A L I Z E D.

You see, when you have a kid with special needs, all of a sudden you become part of this team of therapists, special education teachers, social workers and psychologists.  This Special Education team that will discuss and determine the Individualized Education Plan for your child.    

However, the IEP meetings that I've walked into, I've always been made to feel as if I'm just there to sign the forms and be on my merry way.  And during more than one meeting, I've said - are we creating an Individualized Education Plan or a Generalized Education Plan?

Because when I've requested an additional speech session or OT at The Sensory Gym in addition to OT at school, they say "Generally, we provide...blah blah blah..."

Remember  - it's a dollar and cents game.       

Ever since The Boy's diagnosis in 2008, I've had to fight for services and fight to maintain.  And fight, I will.  Because if The Boy needs something.  You best be sure, I'm going to do my damnedest to get it.  And while I loved The Boy's progression.  I know that for every single step forward, the DOE (Dept of Education) is ready to take something away.  

I'm not a difficult person by nature.  I'm not confrontational or argumentative.  I'm a happy go lucky gal.  Super easy to get along with.  I can make friends with anyone.  But when it comes to The Boy?  And what he needs?  I will fight.  Because it's for him.  Isn't that my job?  As his mother.  

And I'm not making this IEP stuff up. It's the law.  BY LAW - The Boy is entitled to FAPE guaranteed by IDEA.  (for those of you not in the know - FAPE stands for Free and Appropriate Education and IDEA stands for Individuals with Disabilities Act).  

Okay - enough alphabet soup and back to the IEP and the point of this post. 

Lizbeth of Four Sea Stars wrote a great post, Anatomy of Classroom Desk where she  posted a photo of her son, Alex and all this stuff around his desk - to make his day easier.  And it's on his IEP. 

When I saw it, I said to myself - damn, why didn't I do any of that?  Oh well, the upside to IEPs is that they can get revised at any time.

And Lizbeth's posted prompted THIS IEP MEME.    
So, I here I go.  

My last IEP meeting was a joke...But if you're up for a laugh.  Because sometimes you just have to laugh.  You can read it here.

1. There are no tools on The Boy's IEP.  None.  I provided the school with a squishy pad to sit on.  I provide boxes of gum and squishy toys.  Do they understand why he needs these things? Do they use it?  Does it work?  I have no idea.  I've been pushed out of the loop of communication.  The Boy's OT suggested headphones to help The Boy cope but since I don't know whether or not they will use it during the day - I haven't bothered to purchase them.  The Boy's class does have a visual schedule posted but I'm not sure if he has one on his desk.

The Boy does have a BIP (Behavior Intervention Plan).  But I'm not really going there with that one and again - I'm out of the loop.   

2. The Boy receives Speech 3x30; OT 3x30 and PT 1x30.  The Boy attends a "regular" public school but is in a "specialized" class for children specifically with autism.  It's a 6:1:2.  (The Boy also has 8 hours of ABA at home.  This is not on the IEP - we pay for this privately.) 

3. Since The Boy has started kindergarten at this school, I have seen progress.  However I'm not completely convinced it's due to his school placement or services.  I'm not convinced of their effectiveness. 

The speech therapist is really nice, very enthusiastic - which is great to see.  However, she is doesn't have a background in autism - she's learning.  And The Boy's services are in a group of 3 - he needs to have at least 1 individual session.  The speech therapist recommended this too.  But since she's the only one for the entire school, she does not have room in her schedule to provide a one on one session. 

As for OT - The Boy was not provided with OT services at school for the first few months.  The school did not have an OT.  (I was paying for OT sessions privately) When I requested an RSA letter, I was initially told to call 311.  We finally have an RSA and we have a fabulous OT.  And I am certain that she is effective when working with The Boy.        

What I do find most effective is not on the IEP - is the BCBA/ABA therapists that come to our home.  We pay for this privately but it's worth the sacrifice and I'm fortunate to have really good insurance.


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AutismWonderland - written by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez - is a personal blog chronicling a NYC family's journey with autism, while also sharing local resources for children/families with special needs.