D's first IEP (Individual Education Program) is next Thursday. When he turns 3 next month he transitions from the County's Early Intervention Program to the School District's for disability services. Our last few weeks have been quite busy with joint meetings between the County & District, exiting reviews & reports from County, initial observations from District personnel, etc. Plus, the School District is displaying their free preschool programs artfully before us like cat house wares.
District Pimp: "Would our PEEP program please you? She is nice to look at, no? Her language, it is not very good but she has excellent self-help skills.", wink, wink.
Skeptical Parents: "But D really loves a good conversation.", we complain. "He's pretty much all audio being blind and all. Isn't PEEP focused mostly on children with a language deficit?"
District Pimp: "Ah, yes, it is true. But, D, he could be a role model! A skilled man! Who does not want that for their son? And our girls could teach D a thing or two about taking care of himself.", more winking. "Plus, he can have an hour gratis each and every Monday and Wednesday from 12:30 to 1:30 while all the other 3 year olds are eating lunch."
District Pimp: "Or perhaps you would prefer CJ? She has most recently expanded her repertoire to include our more, er, inexperienced clientele."
Skeptical Parents: "Isn't that the school with mostly autistic and cerebral palsy kids? I've heard from some of our therapists that generally the kids there have other issues also and the social and verbal abilities are not the greatest. That's the main reason we want D in school is to socialize him."
District Pimp: "Well, um, yes. However, CJ does provide regular, er, group activities with the class next door for those clients who need added, um, stimulation."
The District is required to provide all vision impaired kids with a free and appropriate education beginning at age 3. "Appropriate", of course, is the sticking point. I don't feel that a preschool that requires a 40 MINUTE COMMUTE by bus each way, only to be surrounded by mentally handicapped, non to low verbal and low social children to be an appropriate place for a blind child who is ALL AUDIO and HIGHLY VERBAL and NOT MENTALLY HANDICAPPED but does need help in the social peer arena - even if it is free. Nor do I think a one hour class with a focus on speech therapy is appropriate for a 3 year old who has language skills in the 4-5 year old range. Again, even if it is free. Not even as a supplement to the preschool he is attending now.
I just don't feel like we need to let them off the hook by allowing them to place him in their programs just because they are there. They. Are. Not. Appropriate.
That being said, our Governor is cutting our school budgets 10% statewide. I also don't feel we need to ask them to pay for D's private preschool. We would be sending him there anyway if he was sighted and they have much greater needs for what limited money they have. What we will ask them for, however, is a paid aide for his class, some training for his preschool teachers to help them bring D into the class better, and perhaps things like special appliances (beeping eggs, some of those little keychain memo recorders, etc) so he can participate in special school activities like Easter Egg Hunts, and the circle time activities of "guess who's picture this is?".
Any of you who have experience with IEPs... do you have any other suggestions?
Here is the uptake of his reviews:
As I said before, language skills mostly in the 4-5 yr range. My boys a talker. Too much so sometimes! Just the other day he said, "Dad, I can't find my f*ckin' alphabet ball." I guess it's time for Mommy to check her potty mouth.
He'll also say "God!" when he's really frustrated. I think this bothers me more than the other. Seems like I'm constantly telling him not to say that. Then he'll say, "But I want to say 'God'."
He's right at age level for his fine motor skills with the exception of those that require vision.
He's beyond age level for gross motor but they don't have a questionnaire that goes beyond in his areas of expertise (stamina, agility, dexterity). He can climb trees, walk with his cane for nearly half a mile without tiring, etc.
The only area he really lacks in is peer socialization. That's my next priority!!!
We did make what I consider to be significant progress this week, however. He has actually mentioned a girl from his class at home - all week. Just her name, over and over, but it's a start - and a first. "Did you say 'Tiana'?", he asks.
No I didn't. But I am so, so glad you did.