Stunned

We went to GB’s CSE today. I showed up with my printed agendas, not knowing what I wanted. The people around the table read my agenda and unanimously agreed with everything on it. It seems that the state changed the requirements and what GB’s class is doing is driven by state requirements and totally unrelated to what they did the two good years she had in the class. The bottom line is GB’s IQ of 71. They want to move her out of the academic track into a life skills class- for kids who will not be able to earn a diploma. We agreed on a 30 day trial to start January 2, 2013. GB will transition over the next three weeks. She will change to a third school. change teachers and aides and all service providers.

I am sad, close to tears and over the top angry. GB has to make yet another transition, my baby is being labeled mentally handicapped, and it is all because her birthmother couldn’t be bothered to deal with life without alcohol.

Happy Versus Educated: Part II

mamabear

The comments on my last post left me much to think about. Thank you to each person who took the time to share their thoughts. I realized my first post was incomplete. There are children who have special needs and are being educated and are happy. This is not the situation I find myself in. However, I should have stated that this decision is not one that  all parents of children with special needs face.

I have a meeting tomorrow with Hope’s school, but it is not consuming my energy. Hope has been as volatile and hard to contain at school as she has been at home. In true RAD form, she has been trying to triangulate between us and her school. This is one of those periodic check in meetings to try and contain the manipulative behavior.

Wednesday the CSE is for GB. GB’s situation is different. GB is never a problem for the school and always works hard. I expected this to be an easy year. Even though she changed schools, she brought her teacher, aides, and support services from the old school. The new school is the neighborhood school, with all the social opportunities that implies. The only note of warning in the background was GB’s state test scores from last spring. They were as low as they could be. The committee assured me that the tests did not really measure what was learned. Having been in the education field for so many years, I knew the one thing these tests were good for was to predict who would be able to pass the exams in high school and earn a diploma. When I said that out loud, nobody could disagree with me.

This year GB’ teacher  has structured things differently. GB is still in a class with seven other students, two aides, and Mr. Teacher. This year, all eight students are doing Saxon fourth grade math. It replaced the Touch Math GB used the previous two years. Saxon has a spiraling curriculum, which means that they cover a little bit of everything each year, each year going into more detail. At the moment, they are doing two step patterns, place value, fractions and multiplication with regrouping. GB struggles with simple repeating patterns, does not understand that for fractions to work, the pieces have to be the same size, and was working on multiplication facts with Touch Math. Since the class is doing math as a group, GB is lost much of the time. The whole group is working on fourth grade spelling. GB comes home with spelling exercises where she can read less than half the words on the list. Homework is taking eighty minutes a night, when GB is cooperative and focused. GB’s anxiety level is through the roof.

GB is a fourth grader this year, but the aides still require ice cream money and school store money to come in a labeled, sealed envelope- a requirement none of the other fourth grades have and one she doesn’t need.

CSE meetings only go well when I can tell them exactly what I want and why. I have no answers going into this meeting. I only know they better be expecting Mama Bear.

An Update on Michigan

This is my grandson, X, on his first day of second grade. Thanks to a trip I made to Michigan, X is reading on grade level, although still a year behind chronologically. The one on one tutoring this summer (paid for by the school district) made a big difference. I think he is the world’s most handsome second grader, even if I am biased.

My son, J, is back on his meds, attending therapy regularly (I call and check), and has a new job. I was unable to talk to him regularly before he was back on the meds because I did not have it in me. Our relationship is much better now.

My granddaughter, K2, is still struggling with an overwhelming weight problem, but has managed to keep her weight stable three months in a row. I am so proud of her!

My oldest granddaughter, Kaylee, is a senior in high school and has a job.

I am encouraging both J and my DIL to develop some skills through vocational training. I have offered to help pay for it and this is the third year I am trying. I have hopes that they are both stable enough that this may be the year they decide to go for it.

X’s birth mother has warrant out for her arrest, hasn’t seen him in over eight weeks, and has an open CPS investigation for leaving her 2 year old alone for 72 hours. No body has seen her or her two year old in several weeks. I told J to file for a suspension of her visitation rights. I hope he does. X is really struggling with this. He is afraid for his baby sister. Any prayers you have would be appreciated.

X’s IEP: My Work Is Done

Today I knew the IEP meeting was at 11 am. I was dressed in my professional best (shoes, even). I introduced myself, including my credentials. I had my graphs, a list of the information the school was suppose to bring to the meeting, and the relevant law dog eared in my WrightsLaw book.


X has appropriate reading goals, research-based reading interventions, and Extended School Year written into his IEP. They will be evaluating X’s word retrieval speed and doing an FBA.


Last night, my son smacked X and gave GB the middle finger. I read the riot act to my son. I told him he would only have supervised  visitation with GB. I also told him if CPS took X away, I would be going to court to take X back to New York. I know I don’t need one more kid, but J has had a vasectomy and there will be no more children from him.


I get to leave tomorrow and drive the 17 hours back to New York.

X’s IEP- The Interim

At X’s IEP Monday, one thing we accomplished was the initiation of a communication log. Tuesday, X came home with his communication log. It said, ” Behavior was out of control today”. No details. Hard to deal with.

X is busy writing a letter of apology and I am working on justifying an Individual Behavior Assessment.

Hope’s CSE: Surrealistic

Hope CSE followed directly after GB’s. Ms. VY Teacher started by saying, “She is SNEAKY! We now see every behavior her parents have  told us about. The World’s Longest Honeymoon is over”.


I don’t really remember much else, but I would like to share a few of this years IEP goals with you:

Hope will reduce in class avoidance behaviors, such as unnecessary pencil sharpening, daydreaming, doodling, walking around, from 15 to 5 times a day.


Hope will reduce lying behaviors from 6 to 1 times per day.

Hope will reduce stealing behaviors from 5 to 1 times a day.

I have never seen IEP goals like these before. Academically, she is still reading on a kindergarten level. Her math skill are slightly higher.

In thirty years of fostering and adopting ED teenagers, I have never seen an IEP that resembles this one.

At the end of the meeting, Mrs. Director of Special Education suggested that we meet again in September to update  “Miss Sticky Fingers IEP”. Her words, not mine.

Therapy Update

On Tuesday, I spent 25 minutes talking with the girls therapist without either of them present. The therapist was pleased with how well grounded in reality GB is at this time. The therapist prescribed TLC when GB starts to get overwhelmed and suggested I never leave GB alone with Hope (Duh).


Hope is struggling and while the therapist was pleased Hope and I will get bonding time this weekend, she is more interested in how Hope reacts when it is just me and nobody to triangulate. We see the psychiatrist Monday and the therapist and I are both confident that the Abilify, while helping, does not keep Hope stable enough that we can work on her issues.


Besides the door alarm, we now have a lock box for all medication.

The girls both have CSE meetings on Monday afternoon. GB’s should be quick and easy. Hope’s will probably not come up with an appropriate IEP and will have to be tabled. Reading up on Wrightlaw’s Smart IEP goals.

Huh?

Hope’s Annual Review is Monday, January 9th. This is the meeting that writes her IEP and determines her placement for September, 2012. Hope has been struggling so much the last month, I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around what she will need next week, much less eight months from now.

The CSE and Our Bottom Line

Today the girls quarterly Program Review CSE meeting finally took place. We made my before Thanksgiving deadline. Hope was my primary concern this time. My will-not-accept-no-as-an-answer position on Hope was she needed to receive more speech. They gave us more speech.


GB’s meeting was a pleasure. They were able to explain to me all of the details for her current reading program and which person is accountable for each piece of it. The reading specialist, who is the new member of the team, said she thought that GB would mainstream into third grade beautifully. I didn’t have to say anything as the rest of GB’s team told the reading specialist that GB couldn’t function in a classroom with that many  people. Everybody  commented on the big difference they have seen in GB the last 4 weeks. I took notes, and nodded at each person. Mr. Teacher told the rest of the committee about the medication change and his opinion that getting GB off Invega and Risperdal had a lot to do with it. Her current IEP did not have her social goals well spelled out. The committee took the time to spell them out and assign responsibility for overseeing them. We will meet again the end of January.


Hope’s meeting was not a pleasure. While Ms Very Young Teacher was reporting on the difficulties Hope has been having, the speech teacher interrupted several times to say that Hope’s emotional and behavioral difficulties were responsible for Hope’s difficulties making herself understood. The speech teacher also asked about mainstreaming as Hope had been mainstreamed last year. Ms. VY Teacher said Hope was starting to be comfortable enough in her class that her problems were easily apparent and she would not recommend mainstreaming until Hope developed more appropriate coping mechanisms. The therapist strongly supported her position. We spoke about the ongoing battle over home work. It was decided that we would set a timer and tell Hope she had 30 minutes to complete her homework. When the timer goes off, homework will go into her book bag. Anything not complete or incorrect will be completed at school the morning during the class’ free time. The therapist also suggested using the timer at dinner. Set it for thirty minutes and when the timer goes off, her dinner is over and the plate removed. I agreed to try it. The speech teacher reported that Hope was not progressing as fast as she should because she was a “slow starter” and for the first 10-12 minutes of every session it was as if Hope had never had speech before. Since the sessions are only 30 minutes long, that mean the first 1/3 of every session is nonproductive by the speech teacher’s own report. The speech teacher did not see the need to increase Hope’s speech sessions because she only tests with a moderate articulation disorder. The rest of the committee used her words (and my analysis) to justify increasing her speech. If I still do not see progress by the next meeting, I am going to request that either Hope be moved to GB’s speech therapist, or an outside, independent evaluation be done. Hopefully, speech 3 x a week will be enough to make some progress. I let the CSE know that Hope is being weaned off the Risperdal, with no replacement med in sight, so I expect things to get more difficult.

We are now free to enjoy the holidays. Our next scheduled battle meeting for both girls is the end of January, 2012.

Circular Reasoning

I had a meeting with the Director of Special Education today. GB was suppose to receive reading instruction in a small group of three students, every day, taught by a special education teacher who is also certified in reading. Since there was only three students, the Director did not feel an aide was necessary. However, the three student reading group only happened twice a week. The rest of the week, GB was doing vocabulary, spelling and writing in a third grade class with no support. We did not know it, GB’s special ed teacher did not know it, and the Director of Special education said she did not know it  Why? Because nobody at the school was in charge of monitoring GB’s reading program and there was no aide to report back to the teacher.. For the next four weeks, the Director of Special Education will be monitoring GB’s reading program. At that point, I have a CSE meeting set up to rip her IEP to shreds and redo it, line by line. And round and round we go.