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Newbie... need advice. Kinda long, sorry.

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Old 10-05-2006, 06:03 PM   #1
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: WA
Posts: 6
garrinsmom HB User
Newbie... need advice. Kinda long, sorry.

Hi everyone. I'm brand new here. My eight year old was diagnosed with PDD-NOS when he was five. He has been receiving speech, OT and PT since he was three; it just took the "experts" quite a while to come up with a diagnosis. On his cognitive assessments he tests in an average range for his age and grade level. Behaviorally and socially, however, he is significantly behind; somewhere in the 4-5 year old range. His motor skill assessments also show him being in the 4-5 year old range.

We have been very blessed to work with great therapists and the individuals at the school had been extremely easy to work with until NOW. My son's placement has been in the Life Skills Class at our then-neighborhood school since he was in Kindergarten. We moved at the end of May, which put us in a different section of town; however the school located in our neighborhood does not have a Life Skills Class, so he was able to remain in his original class.

He had okay IEPs for Kindergarten and 1st grade. His IEP in 2nd grade was miserable in my opinion; it did nothing to challenge him. So, this year I prepared a list of goals I would like for him to have for this year before I went to his IEP meeting (on Tuesday). We got into this big discussion about his present levels and placement because he reads at his grade level. Now they want to do a whole new evaluation and if he tests well enough they told me that they will require him to move to his actual neighborhood school because social and behavior issues are not a reason to keep him in the Life Skills Class.

I know that IDEA states children should attend their neighborhood school if they can receive an appropriate education there. However, I have some serious concerns about this plan of theirs. First, as I said earlier, the neighborhood school has no Life Skills Class or other class for special needs kids. It would require him to be in a general ed. classroom for the entire day. I don't see how this would be possible and give him any chance at an appropriate education. His ability to maintain attention is at the most 20 minutes at a time and even then he is up and about... or making noise. Second, he cannot handle large groups of children or people. It took him two years at his current school to even be able to eat lunch in the lunch room with the other students. Currently, he goes to Music and PE with his regular 3rd grade class, with an aid, and only participates very limitedly, sometimes not even staying for the whole class. I also am very worried that the social setback a move might cause would outweigh any academic gain. It took him 2 1/2 years to even began interacting with the kids in class. Since it is a K-5 class, he is still with the same kids and is just now starting to initiate appropriate interactions with them. I'm sure I could go on with my list of reasons why I think it is a bad idea to move him to this other school, but I think you probably all get the idea by now.

I really feel as if the school is attempting to do this in response to my goals and the fact that I have questioned repeatedly some of the practices in his classroom; not on what is appropriate for him. For example, they spend at the most an hour a day on academics in his Life Skills Class.

I know a lot of parents would be thrilled to hear that their child could be mainstreamed into a general education class full time... and I've dreamed of that day... but I do not think that now is the time. I would strongly favor a situation where he was allowed to stay in his current school and split time between the Life Skills Class and General Ed as he is able. I just can't see it being appropriate to pull him from pretty much full time Life Skills and throw him in full time general ed.

So... my need for advice. I really have no idea how to fight this or what the best arguments are to use in an attempt to keep him in his current school. Also, if anyone has children with similar abilities I would really love to hear what their school environment is like.

Thanks so much,

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Old 10-08-2006, 06:58 PM   #2
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 60
Vicky446 HB User
Re: Newbie... need advice. Kinda long, sorry.

Hi Julie,

First of all I have to say I disagree with what you say in your last paragraph. I think you do know how to fight this, and I believe you listed the best arguments right in your post. Wow...your child is lucky to have you. You could write up a short profile on your son stating what you feel are both his strengths and weaknesses. It might be good to start off with aI woul short paragraph just describing your son how you see him...his likes, his attributes that put a smile on your face. Even if these people see him everyday, they will never see him the same as you. He is first a child, second a child with a disability. I would also go through his old IEPs and highlite anything that backs up what you stated in your post. If his IEP mentions anything about his behavior changing in more chaotic or less structured settings, make note of it. Its good if you can show them that they themselves have already supported what you are saying. If push comes to shove, and you find you can not come to an agreement with the school, you could request mediation. It is a very non-adversarial way of working towards an agreement. While in mediation, your son would stay where he is. This is the way it is in my state, and I would assume all states are the same in this. Is your state one that is very supportive of family choice and involvement? Also, if you have a supportive caseworker, I would talk to them and see if they could attend the meeting with you.

Good Luck!!


Old 10-08-2006, 09:29 PM   #3
jeffreys mom
Senior Veteran
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 550
jeffreys mom HB User
Re: Newbie... need advice. Kinda long, sorry.

In my state, you could reject the IEP and request a STAY PUT until you work it though mediation. This will allow him to stay where he is until this is worked out with the school. The previous poster is right when she says you have already stated his case. It wouldn't be in his best interest to make such a drastic change. Do you have an ongoing communication book with the school that states his daily activities. Like for ex. he made noises in class today, or talks about any self stim behaviors. This will be what helps to keep him in the smaller special Ed. setting.

Good Luck

Old 10-09-2006, 10:05 AM   #4
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: WA
Posts: 6
garrinsmom HB User
Re: Newbie... need advice. Kinda long, sorry.

Thank you both so much for responding. To me, all of the reasons stated in my post are valid arguing points for keeping him in his present environment. But, they are saying that social/behavior reasons alone are not enough to keep him there and totally disregarding his Anxiety Disorder.

Thanks for the suggestion of writing a profile from my perspective. I've already got a little something started on that topic, think I will dig it out and finish it up.

I'm really not certain how parent involvement is supported here. To be perfectly honest, I have always had a good relationship with his teacher and the staff at the school, so this aspect is all new to me.

At any rate, I am getting my stuff together so I will be as prepared as possible. We do have a communication notebook that goes back and forth every day. Also, they send home a behavior log weekly that details things quite nicely. I have these for every year since was in Kindergarten. Going back through them is a really good idea.

Its kind of ironic because every single one of his previous IEPs lists behavior problems as the reason that he does not have access to the general curriculum. And now, all of the sudden, that same behavior isn't reason enough to keep him there.

Thanks again for your input and ideas. I really truly appreciate it and will update after our meeting this week.

Old 10-09-2006, 10:15 AM   #5
jeffreys mom
Senior Veteran
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 550
jeffreys mom HB User
Re: Newbie... need advice. Kinda long, sorry.

Good Luck..... I know it's hard to go up against the school district but be as matter of fact as possible and state all the reasons he needs to stay where he is. Try not to get emotional and use their communications to you from his book as much as possible.

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