Thanks to everyone for the good thoughts and well wishes for today’s IEP meeting. We appreciate everyone’s encouragement!
This is the brief version because we’re feeling baked right now. After all the emotion and stress that gets invested in the IEP process, now that it’s essentially over, all we can think about doing is crashing for the night.
After today’s 2 1/2-hour IEP marathon, we signed all the papers and everyone left with a sense that we had come up with a good plan. If ideal is 100%, I’d provisionally give the result about a 90%. The 10% difference felt like reasonable compromises. We had the perfect scenario in mind and a range in which we’d negotiate, and the result fell somewhere in there.
The main highlight is getting full-day, five-day-a-week preschool, which is sort of the holy grail here. The bonus came in finding out that the “structured learning” class (it’s not ‘autistic preschool classroom’ anymore here) has a much better teacher-student ratio than we had originally been told. They’ve been restructuring how they do preschool for autistic kids here, so people are still figuring it out. It’s three teachers for eight students, which just rocks. We were willing to give a little on services since he’ll be getting more individual attention than we originally thought in the classroom.
Most of what we wanted they offered up front without us even asking. We thought OT was where we’d have a battle, but that worked out fine. Of all things it was speech where we had to negotiate upward from their original offer. There’s a fairly rational reason for their original offer even though J-Man tests as low as 1st percentile depending on the test. It’s a reason I still don’t accept though, but we’ll get into that later. In any case, the end result was that we didn’t have to push too hard.
It got a bit testy when we protested about it potentially taking 2-3 weeks from today before we got his school placement and services kicked in, even though his third birthday is over this weekend. We made it clear that a gap between Early Intervention and preschool services even though school is currently in session is not acceptable. I know it’s only 1-2 weeks, but that’s unfair to him. It’s not our fault if these things aren’t scheduled to address that. They actually went down the hall, found the school placement coordinator, and it looks like he’ll be starting school sometime mid to late next week, though the exact date is still a bit up in the air. Labor Day weekend is not helping any.
The best news out of that is that it looks 99% sure that he’ll end up at the school just two miles up the road from us, which also gets rave reviews. It’s a year-round school so the big three-month school and service gap that would normally occur during the summer is replaced by four, three-week inter-session breaks scattered throughout the year. Plus the school gets a pretty late start comparatively, so no crawling out of bed before dawn and driving completely across town to school. I won’t celebrate until it’s official, but it feels great that it’s almost assuredly going to happen.
Once I had a few minutes to process this, the first thing that popped into my head was, our little boy is going to school. He’s growing up and getting to be a big boy now. That’s pretty emotional for me. He may be developmentally delayed in many ways, but he’s also having to grow up a little faster than other kids too. He’s going to be following the same school day length and same school calendar as the elementary school kids at his school. I know I’m going to go into a puddle after we drop him off the first time, but I’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
In the meantime, time to sleep and for once relax. All that hard work seems to have paid off. And as hard as it was, I’d do it all over again. Not that I want to, mind you, but it was still worth it.