Friday, October 7, 2016

Why Does It Take So Long For Special Education Services?

I had to enroll the children into an online public school.  I needed to do this to take advantage of my of state's program called the Empowerment Scholarship.  It is a program where parents basically waive their rights to FAPE so parents can get a pot of money to send their child to private school or homeschool. We will be going back to homeschooling after our short visit to public school.

Being in the public school has definitely showed me areas where my children are weak academically!  I submitted the request for special education testing within the first week of school (first week of August). The way my state works is that you have a MET (Multidisciplinary Evaluation Team) I meeting to discuss educational concerns and for the parent to turn over any information on your child to show a disability.  I had been writing the blog posts on neurocognitive domains just so I could better explain my children to the team.  First round went to me since the MET group said my kids were suspected of having a learning disability. They decided that there was more testing they needed/wanted to do so the team could appropriately classify them for special education.  That meeting happened on August 17th.

So the days passed and I waited to hear from the school specialists. I heard from the one by one.  I set appointments with them and took the kids to be tested or specialists come here.  Two weeks the kids went though various tests. The MET II meets were set for October 4th and 5th.  I took Joseph and James's together and the next day was Margaret's meeting.  I asked for a copy of the meeting materials that any of the other team members would have access to before the meeting.  This allowed me to be on even ground.  I was able to read the reports the say before.  Is it bad to say I laughed?

Why did I laugh?  Because the reports pointed out SO starkly many of the things I knew to be "wrong" with my children.  Here are some comments from James's report... From the psychologist, "Mom managed the full schedule of the home very well."  Why thank you!  I try though I often wonder how I really do. "He (James) presented as friendly, helpful, talkative, and was a bit of a squirrel/tease at time, which is reportedly not unusual for him."  I have to admit I found this funny.  Yes, James is talkative and he often plays around which makes it hard to tell sometimes when he is being serious. "He was fidgety throughout both sessions, moving about his chair, twisting his shirt into a variety of positions, even lifting it over his head a few times and once taking it off."  ROFL  This really got me! I see James pull his shirt over his head quite often lately.  He reminds me of the character on Bevis and Butthead.  LOL  His shirt was bothering him so much he pulled his shirt all the way off!  Yes, my baby still has sensory issues and has a problem being still due to sensory and ADHD issues.

During his testing for speech she talks about how he turned backwards in his chair several times and only turned around to look at pictures as needed.  "Depite the busy-ness of his body, he still presented as having a calm demeanor. Ja attempted to peek between the barriers this SLP had set up to block his view of the test booklets, when the SLP adjusted them to close the small crack, Ja responded by smiling, chuckling, and saying "Darn it!""  This is James and his perfectionist attitude.  He has anxiety if he thinks he is doing something wrong. "Ja does become "stuck"  on topics of high interest..."  Yes, yes he does!  This is part of his autism and lack of cognitive flexibility.  "Eye contact was appropriate at time, but fleeting to non-existent at other times."  Very much a typical autism trait.  "He was quite verbose and frequently used tangential speech; he required ongoing verbal cues to limit the number of his extraneous comments and keep on-topic."  LOL   Yes, James has a LOT to say but only 50% of the time would I say he is on topic.

You can see how these things are both hard to hear yet funny because you know these professionals are seeing your child for the first time.  I know all these things about James and in the homeschool environment I can build the environment to suit his needs.  I can do some of that in the online public school but his inattention, internal dialog, his dysgraphia, his sensory issues, and his math calculation problems, and I am sure I missing other things, are ALL issues that impede his learning, even online.   I could only imagine if I sent him to a regular brick-and-mortar school what would happen to him with his inability to sit and pay attention along with his general disruptive behavior.

Margaret and Joseph had worse results in their reports.  After about four hours discussion there are a couple of things I forgot for James.  I think James may have a specific learning disability in math calculation (dyscalculia) and I know he has a specific learning disability in written expression (dysgraphia).  We will need to cover this on or before his IEP is formulated.

In the end the MET II team has decided these special education eligibility categories belong to the children so far...

James: Primary: Autism; Secondary: OHI - ADHD (I need to see about adding the SLD: math calculation and SLD: written expression)

Margaret: Primary: Autism; Secondary: SLD: math calculation, SLD: math problem solving, SLD: written expression, OHI - ADHD

Joseph: Primary: Multiple Disability with Severe Sensory Impairment (Autism and Visual Impairment fall under here along with Joseph's problems with math and writing); Secondary: OHI - Ataxic Cerebral Palsy

Do these things shock me in any way?  No.  It is a bit hard to read in a report where everything is written so starkly in black and white. I am thankful the school has identified most, if not all, the children's needs.  Now we are waiting (and it can be up to 30 more days) to work on developing the IEP for the children.  Then the fighting will really begin.  LOL  Once our 100 days are up in public school, near the end of January, I will look at how the kids are doing in school.  I highly suspect that I will be pulling Margaret and Joseph back out of public school for homeschooling once again.  I cannot wait!  The pace of public school is just too fast for them.

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