Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The IEP Meeting

Last Friday Tommy had his IEP meeting at the school.

I warned Tom to look interested for goodness sakes. He has a habit during school functions of looking bored or put off, hunched back in his seat with his arms crossed firmly over his chest.

The man is a cop, he looks intimidating when he does that.

I'd rather him not scare our son's teachers.

Of course I could go to meetings on my own. But I look at it this way: Tommy isn't just my child. Why should I sit there on my own when Tommy is half Tom too? I always schedule the meetings on days when Tom has off so he can attend too. Even if he is bored, at least he understands what Tommy's needs and goals are.

When we were halfway to the school I glanced at Tom's shirt and gasped.

"What?" he asked, turning into the parking lot.

"Your shirt! It's inappropriate!"


"Your SHIRT!" I gestured to his chest as Tom parked the truck.

His shirt said: "I'm Rick James, Bitch."


"Why would you wear that for a school meeting?" I shrieked.

Tom shrugged. "I'm sorry Amber, I really don't pay attention to what I wear. Geez it's just a shirt.."


"It's not like the kids can read."

"They MIGHT. Suppose one kid goes home today and repeats your shirt?"


"And the teachers? What'll they think? They'll think that we're awful parents, I just know it. Tom, you have to keep your jacket buttoned up, you just have to!"

"Calm down.."

I took a few deep breaths as Tom snapped up his jacket.

"There. Look. All better," he said.

In the school we went. Tommy was with us as he doesn't attend school on Fridays.

When we entered the school I signed in and gave our name. Tommy spotted his teacher right away finishing up her lunch.

"Oh hello!" Tommy said and waved.

His teacher waved back. "Hi Tommy, how are you?"

Tommy nodded. "I good!"

He recognized a few more people as they passed by.

They introduced themselves as they passed by.

"I'm Jennifer, the speech pathologist!"

"I'm Donna, the occupational therapist."

Each time Tommy went, "Hello!"

The kid, he loves school.

We were called back a few minutes later.

There was a large oval table with NINE women sitting around it.

Tom hissed into my ear, "What the crap?"

Because in England, during IEP meetings it was usually just the teacher, the speech therapist and the occupational therapist.

I knew there would be an extra woman in there because Tommy's teacher called and asked if this woman getting her associates in special education could sit through the IEP meeting so she knew what it was like.

I said it was no problem.

When I told Tom he sighed and went, "I hate how they treat Tommy like some damn science experiment.."

I explained that I used to feel the same way...that having all sorts of people stare at Tommy was a little strange.

But then I realized that the more he's examined, the better understanding people will have for children with speech delays and sensory processing disorders.

So we settled down in our chairs--Tom looking incredibly uncomfortable to be in a room filled with women. The teachers had set out some paper and crayons for Tommy and Tommy immediately started to write his name.

The meeting started.

We were told that Tommy is doing really well in school.

No crying, no anger fits, he's always happy.

He's never had issues with hitting other children and shares.

His teacher said she was impressed by how quickly Tommy got the routine down.

What the kids do when they first get to school is put their backpacks and coats in their cubby.

Then they have to get their name down from a chart and stick it onto another chart.

She said Tommy had that down in a matter of days.

"It's impressive because some children don't do it on their own for weeks.." the teacher continued.

I felt pride of course.

His teacher says that she does want Tommy to interact more with the other children. He does prefer to play on his own but if another child joins him he allows it. She said a few days ago Tommy did start a conversation with another child for the first time. They were talking about a truck and animals.

"I'd like to see more interaction between Tommy and the other children. He sits by them in circle time but he doesn't seem to initiate games or conversations.."


Of course I was the same way.

I was always shy.

Then the occupational therapist started. She said that Tommy was doing really well with scissors.

And zipping down his jacket and taking it off.

She's still working with him on engaging the zipper. She says Tommy can zip his jacket up if they put the zipper on for him.

He's getting better with his letters and drawing other things.

He can now spell his first AND last name.

And Allison's name.

He likes to draw houses complete with a window and door.

He can draw a person with more than five body parts.

He can draw nearly all the basic shapes such as a square, a rectangle, a triangle and a circle. He's also drawn a diamond before even though it does look awkward. And an oval.

Bottom line is, he is improving.

She's also working on throwing and catching with him. He has trouble catching things. He can throw underhand but not overhand.

He still can't pedal.

That's a sensory processing disorder thing. They usually have poor muscle tone so he pushes himself along with his feet.

I told her I was working on pedaling at home too. He has a tricycle and during the summer Tom and I plan on buying him a bike.

Then the speech pathologist started.

She had given Tommy a speech evaluation a week before and reported on that.

I'll just type out what the paper says:

"Tommy is a four year, eleven month old male who is currently attending *****. He was tested for articulation using the Goldman Fristoe Test of Articulation (GFTA-2) to determine his current needs in the area of speech. Tommy was very busy during administration of the GFTA-2. He used a pencil to scribble on all the pictures of the book but sat at the table with minimal cues for approximately 20 minutes. Tommy used a lot of jargon and was very talkative. A language sample was taken to informally assess Tommy's language and articulation. Tommy was approximately 50% intelligible during the language sample.

Tommy received a score at the 8th percentile for articulation on the GFTA-2. This means that he scored higher than 8 out of 100 of his same aged peers. Tommy made errors on the following sounds: /p k fj sh ch r th v s z/. These errors included:

"b" for "z" in the initial position (eg "bido" for "zipper.")
"l" for "j" in the initial position (eg "lelo" for "yellow.")
"f" or "t" for "th" in all positions (eg "fum" for "thumb" "bat" for "bath.")

Tommy's tongue slightly protrudes during his production of "s." However he is still getting enough air out of his front two teeth. Tommy is stimuable for sounds "k" and "s." He was about to produce "k" and "s" after the clinician repeated the sounds in isolation. The fact that Tommy is stimuable for these sounds means that he will likely experience success in therapy working on these sounds. Tommy qualifies for speech services at this time."

Basically Tommy is improving in speech.

When Tom heard that Tommy scored 8 out of 100 of his peers he sighed and went, "That's not good.."

But the speech pathologist assured him that he was improving.

Tom still looked a little wary.

I mean yes it is hard to hear that your child is so behind but I know that Tommy is getting better.

At the age of three he had barely any words and now look at him.

The bottom line is, Tommy is doing well at school. He's happy, he loves to learn and he pretty much knows everything else other children his age knows.

He's doing great with opposites. If you ask him the opposite of up he'll say down.

He knows all his colors and shapes.

He can recite his first and last name and say that he lives in Wyoming.

(He can even point it out on a map. He also points out Texas and says, "Nonna and Papa live in Texas!" Then he points out Ohio and says, "Grandma lives in Ohio!")

And that he's a boy.

He understands the same but does have problems with different. So I've been working on that with him.

So yes, he's thriving.

Towards the end of the meeting I asked if they thought he'd be ready for Kindergarten.

Because Tom and I have debated holding him back.

But his teacher says she feels that he WOULD be ready so long as he had an aide in the classroom helping him. And he'd still probably be pulled from class to receive speech therapy.

"I feel that he'd be ready because he did get our routine down quickly and is always happy and willing to learn," his teacher said with a nod.

In April she says she'll set up a meeting with the Kindergarten. See, some people from that school will come down and we'll have another meeting to discuss what Tommy's needs will be in the classroom.

So it looks like that Tommy will begin Kindergarten come September.

The meeting lasted about an hour. Tommy behaved the entire time. He just colored and played with some trucks.

He spelled his first and last name for his teacher.

Oh and a picture of a truck.

Then he said, "I need to pee!" and his teacher took him so Tom and I could finish up.

Did I mention that Tommy is completely potty trained now? He's pooped in the potty since I last wrote about it. No accidents at all!

The Pull Ups are GONE!

On the way out Tom sighed and went, "Geez that was long enough.."

But he was glad to hear that Tommy was thriving.

His teacher also says that Tommy has an excellent imagination.

Which I just LOVE about him.

I better go get some vacuuming down before Tommy gets home from school.

He still hates the vacuum.


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