Need help ASAP with IEP meeting tomorrow. Thanks!

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irishmom1972
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Joined: Mon Sep 12, 2016 12:40 pm

Need help ASAP with IEP meeting tomorrow. Thanks!

Postby irishmom1972 » Mon Sep 12, 2016 1:53 pm

Hello. I need some quick recommendations for an IEP meeting tomorrow with the school. My 8 year old, third grade HFA son is on an IEP with speech and social skills minutes at school. He is in a regular classroom. We're in a small school district, resources limited in northern Illinois. Even the school SLP is part time. The social worker is a joke. Sorry, just sayin. She does nothing to help my son with his social awkwardness, making friends, asserting himself (his peers make fun of him and take advantage of him, and he doesn't understand...he thinks everyone is his friend).

I've had him in early intervention and early childhood preschool before he started Kindergarten in our school district. He went to Kindergarten with an IEP from Early Childhood, but our school district kept denying that he had problems throughout his Kindergarten year because he was testing average on numbers, letters and all the rudimentary Kindergarten skills, and thus they cut his IEP off at the end of Kindergarten. He was without an IEP for his entire first grade. I don't know if he learned anything in first grade with his his zero attention span, frequent meltdowns because he didn't understand concepts in class (being called on randomly...when he raised his hand, he thought he should be called on every.single.time), rules in games, processing issues, literal thinking, etc. The most disturbing thing was that his teacher didn't even tell me about how many problems he was having on a daily basis without that IEP. I got him evaluated and officially diagnosed at the end of first grade, and eventually they resumed his IEP beginning in second grade. So throughout Kindergarten and second grade (last year), there were many occasions (weeks upon weeks) when the SLP was out or the social worker was out, and my son was getting absolutely no therapies whatsoever. I wasn't informed either that the therapists were not seeing him for extended lengths of time. I hardly ever got progress reports about what they were working on with him. I happened to ask my son if he saw the SLP or social worker on a particular day, and he would say, "no...because she had a family emergency"...I was getting the same answer week after week. Eventually I talked to the special ed director about this, and her attitude was, "Well there are extenuating circumstances and family emergencies that are out of our control." When I brought up the fact that they are required minutes on his IEP that should be made up, her response was, "All we have to do is show the state that we're trying to find a replacement...." There was absolutely no regard to the vast amount of required IEP minutes lost and not made up. My son was not receiving help when he should have been receiving it. I wrote the Principal/Superintendent about the problem this year. I copied the new teacher and therapists on his email too. My older NT kids have had the same teacher who my ASD son has now, and she wasn't one of the teachers who stood out in the past. In other words, she'd probably let my son fall through the cracks this year if I didn't stay on top and advocate for him. I asked for extra help this year for him in reading, helping him understand concepts/things more generally or that aren’t in the here & now, his literal thinking, not seeing the big picture, difficulty with auditory-only directions and that reinforcement is needed. He got in trouble a few times last year when the teacher gave auditory directions, and my son did something that he thought he was supposed to do, but he missed part of the auditory directions and ended up getting in trouble. And when there were substitutes, he'd get in trouble for not sitting still, etc. The teachers weren't passing on information year after year.

A couple weeks ago at the beginning of the school year, I emailed the Superintendent and teacher and asked the school for more help with my son. I asked the schoo to start tracking/logging IEP minutes for me and what they're working on each week. I was surprised to hear that the since the speech therapist is part time and since she has so many students to see, she sees groups of them together in all different settings. Many of Conor's speech minutes at the beginning of last year were in the loud lunch room grouped with other speech kids and also on the playground. The special ed director told me that was perfectly acceptable. I just don't think they're helping my son the way they should be. My son, by the way, does have private speech and OT once per week. The Superintendent called a meeting with me and the entire IEP team (teacher, speech therapist, social worker, Director of Special Ed, Resource teacher, and the Superintendent herself). The meeting will take place tomorrow.

Based on what I've told you here, could you please provide me with a list of questions/demands to discuss tomorrow? Valid points that I should bring up, etc? My son is not even receiving OT at school. I inquired about it last year and they said they can't add OT since he wasn't receiving it already. Every OT point that I brought up about my son, they laughed off in years past. For example, spatial awareness. My son could be holding a tool in science class and accidentally hurt someone because he got to close. He has many personal space issues and gets too close to his peers, etc. My husband is also on the spectrum...extremely intelligent when it comes to math, facts, textbook stuff, but his social-emotional and communication challenges have taken a HUGE toll on our large family. I've requested my husband to be there at the meeting tomorrow, but he unfortunately won't contribute much and won't advocate for our son. So, I'll be on my own. I need as much help as I can get. Thanks so very much!

irishmom1972
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Sep 12, 2016 12:40 pm

Re: Need help ASAP with IEP meeting tomorrow. Thanks!

Postby irishmom1972 » Mon Sep 12, 2016 9:54 pm

Anyone?

harrysmom
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Sep 12, 2016 9:44 pm

Re: Need help ASAP with IEP meeting tomorrow. Thanks!

Postby harrysmom » Mon Sep 12, 2016 9:57 pm

I can't help but can offer support! My boy is only 3 and just started preschool, so I've had one IEP meeting. Hang tough and take notes, or task your husband with that role if he's good at it.

Remember you are supermom and don't let them intimidate you.

Winnie
Posts: 4227
Joined: Sat Mar 18, 2006 2:48 pm

Re: Need help ASAP with IEP meeting tomorrow. Thanks!

Postby Winnie » Tue Sep 13, 2016 12:07 am

I may be too late to help for tomorrow – there is a lot in your post – but here are a few basic considerations just in case you have time to read:

First, eligibility for an IEP is not necessarily dependent on his academic knowledge of letters, numbers, etc. Educational performance includes academic and/or social/emotional skills.

Since you have correctly identified some of the dodges districts use to avoid delivery of effective services, the most immediate things you need to address tomorrow may relate to the delivery of services which are currently specified in his IEP. So look over his IEP, and ask them to show you the following:

1. Attendance records for the specified services (parents are often surprised when they find out how many sessions are missed and how many are “made up” in meaningless cobbled-together groups).
2. Data from these sessions (therapist should show up to the meeting with this info. If they don’t, tell them you will be happy to wait while they retrieve it).

If they give you some excuse about being in compliance while they look for another therapist, ask them to show you this in the state regs (you need to read over your state’s administrative code/regs when you get a chance). Using administrative convenience (only having a part-time therapist) as an excuse for not providing services or providing a reduced level of services is a denial of FAPE.

If at any point they use the phrase "research shows" to justify their service delivery, or anything else, ask the person at the table who said it for specific research citations. When they hedge and stammer, give them your email and tell them these can be sent later that day following the meeting (and that you will be checking your email for these). We can help you check those out. :)

If the district is not delivering the services specified in the IEP, then your child is eligible for compensatory services. Compensatory services are not just random groups cobbled together for the purposes of checking the service delivery box -- these can include services outside the school day paid for by the district.

There are probably a number of issues that need to be addressed on his IEP – if you want additional services (frequency), more measurable/specific mastery levels, or individual services, for instance, instead of something random conducted at lunch, this will have to be specified in the IEP.

Ask a lot of specific questions about the services he is currently receiving – how many children are in his session, how many response opportunities he has during the sessions considering the numbers, and how effectiveness/progress is tracked in these sessions. Then (at some point) do the math regarding how much time he actually spends with a therapist considering absences, frequency of sessions, and number of children per session.
There are a number of past threads related to this topic, here is one I found from this year, and it may give you some ideas for questions to ask:

http://www.autismweb.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=33755

Good luck with it -- let us know how it goes. You may not have everything settled tomorrow, which is not necessarily a bad thing, since it will give you time to circle the wagons and gather more info.
Winnie
"Make it a powerful memory, the happiest you can remember."

Winnie
Posts: 4227
Joined: Sat Mar 18, 2006 2:48 pm

Re: Need help ASAP with IEP meeting tomorrow. Thanks!

Postby Winnie » Tue Sep 13, 2016 12:29 am

P.S. It is a good thing to have your husband accompany you -- it's almost always a good thing to have someone(s) accompany you to the meeting. If the person with you is not familiar with all the issues, not comfortable with confrontation, or whatever, just tell them to paste on their concerned eyebrows and take notes. That way you can follow your agenda/line of questioning, and have some extra notes to review after the meeting (which is super helpful).
Winnie
"Make it a powerful memory, the happiest you can remember."

irishmom1972
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Sep 12, 2016 12:40 pm

Re: Need help ASAP with IEP meeting tomorrow. Thanks!

Postby irishmom1972 » Wed Sep 14, 2016 12:22 pm

Hi Winnie-I'm so grateful for your detailed advice and for taking the time to help me out. Thank you so much. I didn't get what I wanted in the meeting yesterday. The cards are always stacked in the schools favor. I had pointed out that in the past, there were several times that I learned my son wasn't receiving therapies, and that there was one extended period of time in Kindergarten when he wasn't receiving OT services. I had mentioned my suspicions in the past to the IEP team about my son not receiving all his required minutes but they fell on deaf ears. Then yesterday the Superintendent advised me not to wait this long if I have concerns....not being aware that I've brought up these concerns in the past. The IEP team has always invalidated my concerns, acted like they're delivering services, and they brush off any new concerns that I have for my son (their stock answer is always that they're not "seeing those issues at school"). During the extended time when my son wasn't receiving OT services at school in Kindergarten, there was a death in her family and my son didn't receive services for weeks upon weeks. Yesterday, the IEP team denied that he went weeks without services and said it was only two weeks, and they waved a shameful finger at me that I didn't have more compassion for the OT's death in her family. I spoke up to the superintendent and said that when I brought up my concerns about my son not consistently receiving his required minutes in the past, an answer that I got from the Director of Special Education was that all she needed to do is show the state that they are "looking for a replacement or doing their best to try to make up those services"... it was more of a cover your a** by the school than being concerned about my son's missed services. Yesterday the Director of Special Ed said that I was making some pretty serious accusations about my son not receiving his services last year too, and they asked me to provide examples. I told them that many weeks last year I would ask my son if he saw Ms. XXX for social work or Mrs. XXX for speech, and my son would tell me "no". I also pointed out in the meeting yesterday that the social worker was out for a few weeks straight because of some family issue, yet they still denied that my son missed any therapy time. They said if they're out sick, the session is definitely made up - but how do I know that? I also provided an example of an IEP social goal last year that I thought was being worked on the whole year but it wasn't, yet the social worker marked the goal as "met" at the end of the school year. It came to a complete surprise to me at the end of the year when she said that goal was met, but I totally disagreed, "XXX will form 2 friendships during the 2015/2106 school year among his peers.", and it said "Goal Met". In the meeting, I said that goal was never met. My son doesn't have any friends. He never has. Our home phone has never rang for my son for a play date. Therefore, I want to ensure that the therapy minutes are addressing IEP goals....how do I know what they're working on? I want logs from now on so there are not more surprises. The social worker got red in the face and very defensive and said that I was wrong and completely incorrect. She said that she "worked VERY HARD" on that goal with my son, and that he is friends with everyone in his class. Then all the other therapists do what they do best and move forward with the meeting, covering for her, invalidating me and cutting me off. The rest of them know that she's useless. My son has personal space issues too, sniffing, mouth stuffing, obsession with food, attention deficit, clumsiness, weird eye stimming with utensils in the air to pretend they're roller coasters (another obsession), spatial awareness issues...??? don't know if that's the right term....(if he's holding a bat or hockey stick and turns around, he'll accidentally hit someone because he doesn't know where the end of the stick is, many times he'll almost jab me in the eye with the pencil because he's not aware of the danger to others when holding an object), etc. Still to this day, he'll jump on my shoulders or climb on me and dig his elbow in my stomach on accident, but he's simply not aware....so I believe these all warrant OT services at school too. He had OT in Kindergarten that came with his IEP from Early Childhood, at the end of Kindergarten the school denied he had any issues because he tested well enough on paper and they pulled his IEP, he went without an IEP all throughout first grade and was having daily meltdowns (and they weren't informing me), I called another meeting requesting him to be re-tested because he was struggling in first grade with language and social skills. The school tested and I told them that I was independently testing as well, and he was diagnosed officially in first grade with HFA. The school drew up a new IEP for second grade without OT services...just speech, social work, and resource (help with reading...inferencing/comprehension). He had an IEP throughout second grade, and here we are at the start of third grade.

Yesterday at the meeting, I was told that they WILL NOT fulfill my request and provide me with therapy logs moving forward despite all the discrepancies in the past when I've questioned that my son was getting his required minutes. They said that they checked with their lawyer and it's not within their scope of IEP related responsibilities to parents. The reason they gave...it's too much work for the therapists to write individual notes to me every week. The therapists are all part time and have to service all their IEP kids, and they said there's simply not enough time and it's too much work for them. By the way, our school district is K-8 in Northern Illinois, 315 students total. All the therapists are part time. The superintendent also gave the excuse that all their internal therapy notes for other students are typed on the same page, so there's a confidentiality issue. In other words, my son's notes are on the same page as 25 other IEP kids' notes. She also said that the social worker may be asking our child confidentiality issues that cannot be shared with home. Please let me tell you my opinion (and I've heard others say the same) about the social worker. She is phony-bologna. A total fake with a glued on smile. Her daughter goes to the school too and her daughter is in my oldest daughter's grade. So I'm sure the social worker's daughter is privy to all the confidential information to all the students who see her mother. That's a conflict of interest if you ask me. The social worker has always appeared to BS with fluff in all the past IEP meetings and doesn't work on the actual IEP goals with the kids. Every time my son saw her last year, he'd play Candy Land with her in her office instead of a social thinking curriculum, social stories, etc. She's probably texting on her phone during my son's therapy time. She leaves a lot to be desired. I was told yesterday by the superintendent that because they're a small school district and because they don't have a lot of resources that all their therapists are part time, and the OT isn't even a school employee, she's contracted. So, regarding the logs moving forward, they refused to provide us with them. I didn't even require them to go back and prove to me that my son was not missing services. They said that they'll provide me a schedule for this year when my son is supposed to see the therapists and that I could ask him if he saw the therapist on that day. And if he hasn't, I could shoot the therapist an email to inquire about it. That doesn't even sound practical. My son, for example, saw the social worker later on in the day after our meeting yesterday. I asked him what they did in the session, and my son was unable to tell me. He said he "took a test". I asked what some of the questions were on the test, and my son couldn't remember. So I have no idea what the therapists are working on with him, when, where, and with whom. And I think I have the right to know. My son's speech & reading resource minutes are in the classroom and in the lunch room. That sounds like it could be so distracting and like they're trying to get a bunch of other kids combined IEP minutes knocked out at the same time. I do like my son's school speech therapist but she's overworked. She shared with me that her 18 year old son is on the spectrum too. She does more social skills work (along with her speech therapy) than the school social worker does. I wouldn't even mind getting the social minutes off his IEP because she's just a waste of time and I don't want him pulled out of class to go see her, but how do I do that? His social goals on his IEP are a complete joke this year, and so is the social worker herself.

I shared my experience at the meeting with another mom at our school, who happens to be a social worker for a larger school district and whose son is on an IEP for ADHD. She said that the school does have to provide logs. She said that I should FOIA the records and provide a date range...I'm assuming that she's talking about past services that he missed. How do I get them to start giving me logs (and not making me email them)? The superintendent also suggested that I could email each of the therapists once per month to check in on my son and his services, and anything more than that (for just a "check-in") would be too inudating for the therapists.

Gee, Winnie, I wish you were here in Northern Illinois, I'd ask you to be our advocate at these IEP meetings. I've been unable to effectively get what I want to help our son in the past, and my husband, like I shared is on the spectrum himself and has no idea how to advocate for our son. The meeting from yesterday is already a thing of the past to him.

I should probably write the superintendent a letter summarizing our meeting yesterday...mostly pointing out that they've denied he's missed any services in the past and that they're not willing to provide me with logs moving forward...just for documentation, but I don't know what to do from here.

irishmom1972
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Sep 12, 2016 12:40 pm

Re: Need help ASAP with IEP meeting tomorrow. Thanks!

Postby irishmom1972 » Fri Sep 16, 2016 1:47 pm

I'm not sure how to tag someone on this forum. I was looking for Winnie's advice please or anyone else who could help. @Winnie


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