I had knots in my stomach as I sat in my car for a few minutes before the IEP meeting Friday morning. I didn’t expect anything bad, any conflict, any battles, but I knew it was going to be long and draining. I knew I would be hearing all Little Man’s challenges and needs. I wanted to yell bad words at autism, as well as ADHD and ODD.
His new team has been simply awesome, and incredibly flexible. I wasn’t worried about having to fight with them on anything for Little Man. They met, and exceeded my expectations. They love my little guy, and accept him in all his autistic, prickly, anxious, angry glory.
He gave them a bit a grief getting through the evaluation and assessment process, the common theme being if he had advanced warning, had some control over when evaluations were going to be done, and they didn’t go over 20 minutes in any given sitting, he was usually cooperative and engaged. At the end, he was VERY excited to hear he doesn’t have to endure this process again until 9th grade. He was DONE!
The assessments didn’t tell us anything we didn’t know. He’s an incredibly smart young man. His vocabulary is insane for a child of eleven years old. He is curious, and he loves technology. He still needs help. He cannot self-regulate. He knows his tools and strategies, but in the moment of a meltdown, he cannot apply them. He is rigid. He is intolerant of irritation. He needs strict routine. It’s his way or no way. He very definitely gets hangry (hunger = an angry, anxious, not-very-nice person). He has almost zero organizational skills.
His goals and accommodations did need to be tweaked. His current school is technology-based, so some wording had to be changed. And we will be incorporating the use of technology into his accommodations ie he will take photos with his phone of the homework assignments listed on the white board, rather than writing them on a piece of paper (which very rarely was getting done). He will do a daily reflection on his iPad, with respect to meltdowns or withdrawals, and how he could have handled them, how he did handle them, etc. His teacher is creating a Google doc for this particular item, which will be shared with the team as it’s completed by Little Man. He won’t be pulled for speech any longer, although speech therapy will stay on as consult. He tests average/above average in controlled situations, and has met all his speech goals, however, we go back to his inability to utilize the skills he’s learned in real-life situations. Adaptive PE developed a contract Little Man will have to fill in and sign each week. He has to meet specific goals on laps run, sit-ups, push-ups, class PE participation, and lunges/squats. Those goals will increase each week. I wished the APE teacher good luck with that one. Hah! He also now has a feeding schedule, like an infant, of every two hours. I sent a box of popcorn to school with him today to go along with his goldfish and other crackers.
The meeting was very nearly two hours long, and it was draining. But it was good. His team, like us, just wants to help him be comfortable at school, and give him the education he deserves.