Health care is a basic human right, not a privilege. For some reason, we’ve allowed ourselves as Americans to be fooled into accepting that one must be blessed with “means” to actuate appropriate health care. As a nation we have failed to realize that our health care system is a barometer of our society’s value for human life.

-Me

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Teacher Approaching Retirement and PACER

Sandis’s teacher is retiring after this school year. She has been teaching 32 years, and she is an awesome teacher. It is apparent that she has been teaching for this long not because she is tired after the 32 years, but because she is so talented and honed in her skills. Her love for Sandis shines through, and her understanding of his needs is incredible. I feel as though I am in an honest partnership with her when it comes to my son’s education.

I haven’t talked so much about Sandis’s IEP meeting because in most regards it is still in process. We went over possible goals, but I didn’t leave feeling like we had cemented most goals. I also felt as though the meeting was disorganized and didn’t cover all the bases. Part of the time I was defending how I completed the Vineland II questionnaire, as they were simply “amazed” by what I had inicated what Sandis was regularly and not regularly able to do. I felt like the only people in the meeting who understood Sandis’s functional and adaptive needs in the room were myself and his teacher. I was impressed by Sandis’s teacher stating how she felt he needed an aide. Prior to the meeting, she had asked me not to tell anyone that she had said this. She took the step that isnt’ much encouraged in our district.

Sandis’s teacher had to leave before the meeting was completed, and after she left, I was told in no uncertain terms that Sandis would not get an aide on this IEP. They wanted to put this IEP into place without the aide and if he does not show progress then they can examine implementing an aide. I felt quite a bit of frustration in regards to this. Sandis’s teacher was very clear that she felt Sandis would not succeed without a shared aide in first grade. Seeing as how she spends basically more time during the week than I do in one-on-one time with my son I feel confident in that assertion. I also felt that if we put this IEP into place without a provision for an aide, then showing progress will not be that difficult, and denying an aide in the future on the basis of “showing progress” will be an easy case to develop. Progress is so subjective. Would what they consider progress be reasonable progress to me?

One of our main goals is Sandis transitioning to using the large restroom by first grade. It isn’t that Sandis isn’t potty trained, it is that Sandis becomes overwhelmed in the large restroom and basically “gets lost.” He will literally forget why he is there as he flushes toilets, turns water on and off, switches lights on and off, and runs around enjoying the echoes as he yelps. This is only one basic functional task Sandis needs to achieve by first grade, and I just don’t see it happening with what little amount of intervention they do have planned. So what do they do if Sandis can’t use the large restroom on his own by first grade? What intervention do they pull out of their hat then when they have no option but the big potty, and things are predictably haywire? Sandis is not delayed enough to be in an enclosed classroom, they have to make it work mainstream, and I can imagine the stress this can cause him if we don’t take the reins now and in good spirits embrace his strengths but also HONESTLY work to help him build up his deficits.

I hadn’t had a chance to talk with Sandis’s teacher about the rest of the IEP meeting until yesterday, as conferences have been in the works at his school. Yesterday evening I got my chance. She is one spunky lady! After a bit of a conversation, she looked around to see if anyone was around that could hear her, and she said: “One word, Sarah: PACER.” She then looked around again, fitfully checking to see who was around and said: “Get an advocate and find out your rights, and don’t sign anything until you have what he needs on it. This IEP is what he is taking into first grade with him.”

Holy smokes! I was a bit uncomfortable about how the IEP meeting had panned out. I am glad I got her input. And you know what I did? Today I put in a call to PACER, and I am expecting a call back from an advocate.

The funny thing about all of this is Sandis’s teacher at first asked me not to tell anyone that she had told me to call PACER, but then, after a few more minutes of conversation she says: “You know what? DO tell them I told you to call PACER. I won’t be here much longer, and Sandis NEEDS this!” I take it as this, she is retiring next year, and she has an opportunity to not really care that the district is cutting special ed funding all over the place. She has an opportunity to help Sandis be all that he can be, despite raised eyebrows and discouragement from the district. And that is AWESOME. If only ALL teachers shared her sentiments!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sarah,
I've been reading your info for some time. Sometimes I cry but most of the time I'm grinning and cheering as you plow through the paperwork and get stuff done. You are quite amazing.
Push, push, push on the IEP!
You are so very fortunate to have a teacher that is working w/ you - not against you.
This is your son's life you're dealing with - and I think you're doing a simply superb job!
ces

mcewen said...

You are a lucky woman to have such a teacher. She is spot on and sticking her neck out for you and Sandis. Wish that all teachers had the 'freedom' to do likewise.
Best 'wooly' wishes

Mom without a manual said...

Wow! That is an amazing teacher! Kudos to her for sticking her neck out!

If only families and teachers could come together and be honest about what our kids need WITHOUT the politics!

I suppose money will have to grow on trees before we get to that point!

Keep on fighting for your son!

Camera Obscura said...

Do NOT (yes I'm yelling) sign an IEP you don't agree with. Get legal help, raise Cain. Sign NOTHING.