Friday, September 16, 2011

I.E.P.

Individualized Education Program (IEP):

An IEP describes an individualized educational program that has been designed to meet a child's unique needs.  Each child who receives special education and related services must have an 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 age appropriate) to work together to improve educational results for children with disabilities. The IEP is the cornerstone of a quality education for each child with a disability.

The Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a legally binding document.

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For the first time in 11 years M is enrolled as a student in a public school district.

For the first time in 11 years he has an IEP.

I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not.

I had high hopes for the school to work transition program offered by our county. It is for 18-21 year olds who have disabilities, and focuses on teaching life and employment skills. I thought it would be a good next step for M... learning from someone other than me, and being pushed... stretched... a little in terms of work skills. Statistically, it's very unlikely he'll be able to work, even part time, as an adult. The schizophrenia makes working very difficult... the FASD and his physical problems only add another layer of challenge to keeping a job.

But...

... he's already shown that he's capable of things you wouldn't expect from someone with his diagnoses. So my thought was, lets see what he can do... (Always monitoring, of course, that he's not pushed too much... risking destabilization and other problems.) I had high hopes for the program...

Now, one month (and one IEP) into M's new schooling experience, I'm realizing that it's not all I'd hoped. His time on work sites is severely limited by his need for line of sight supervision and his hip problems.  During his time at "the center" (really just a single temporary classroom sitting in a parking lot in town) he's working on things that we've already done at home. When they aren't at job sites or working at the center, they work on community assess... being out and about in town, shopping, eating out, etc. That might be a valuable thing to work on for kids who have spent Monday through Friday for the past 12 years in a school or in a day care setting... but M has spent the past 12 years out in the community. Homeschooling has already given him many (most?) of the skills they are working on in this transition program...

Sometimes, when they tell me what they are doing for the day, I feel like they're just babysitting.

We don't need babysitting.

And while M is there playing Uno and putting crayons into baggies for IHOP to hand out with their kid's menus...

... he's losing academic skills.

Skills we worked hard for many years for him to learn. This isn't just my fear or a guess... I'm seeing it happen.

I just can't let those skills go without trying to help him hold onto them.

They do no academics at his transition program.

So I've got to make sure we have time to do enough school at home to help him hold onto what he's already learned, and hopefully continue learning.

This probably means limiting his time at the transition program.

I'm going to have to spend some time thinking about what this might look like, then we'll need to have another meeting to make the changes to his IEP. (Right now it's written for him to be there full time...)

Right now though, my mind is full of worries about his upcoming hip surgery (scheduled for Tuesday) and my concerns about his transition program are like the miserable flies out in the pasture... buzzing through my thoughts, never holding still long enough for me to do anything about them, but never going away either.

Maybe when M's in the hospital, and I have those quiet hours with nothing to do but sit by his bed while he sleeps, I'll be able to get my thoughts organized and figure out a plan that will help M stretch and grow in living skills, while still leaving time (and energy) for his academic skills.

I should also follow up on my last post while I'm here. No, Liese, I'm not 72... I guess the horizontal candle on my birthday cake doesn't look as much like a minus sign as I thought it did. The candles say 63 - 9. :)

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