In our last IEP goals recap from last quarter, the J-Man had a great nine weeks overall and showed great gains. This past quarter just ended last Thursday, and our little superstar continues to make great strides toward what we thought were some pretty ambitious goals for this year.
As a refresher for those curious about how we do things around here, the quarterly evaluations are done based on how well the kids are progressing toward meeting their IEP goals for the entire year, and then they’re assigned an evaluation code based on the following scale:
1 – Insufficient progress to meet IEP goal by end of year; below expected mastery of goal at this point in the year
2- Skills are emerging; mastery of goal is still inconsistent; student needs support to meet goals
3 – Consistent progress toward goals; on track to meet annual goal
3* – Consistent progress toward goals + some evidence of application and independence (Not sure why they need another 3 score here, but whatever. “Application and independence” are definitely two words we like.)
4 – Annual goal has been mastered; able to generalize the skill independently in multiple settings.
As I mentioned last time, don’t ask me why they felt the need to add a 3* in between 3 and 4 rather than just fix the scale to begin with. But anyway…
We rounded the halfway mark of this year early in March, so in light of that, his progress toward goals he has a few more months to meet is awesome.
Here are those categories and all the great stuff he’s been up to lately.
Early learning and play skills, participating in educational environment – now up to a 3*! The J-Man is going great guns in building and assembling things, labeling and recognizing all kinds of stuff, sorting just about anything you ask him to, making great progress in manipulating objects, and of course, doing all sorts of mindboggling things with his reading skills. His vastly increased proficiency with using picture communication has made it much easier to figure out what he understands, too. It’s cool that he’s now starting to do things like playing with cars more ‘appropriately’! (pushing them around on the table rather than just carrying them around)
Fine motor and self-help skills – now up to a 3! His ability to manipulate objects has grown tremendously this quarter. He’s also much more willing to get messy, especially with his hands. What a big improvement that is! That used to make him gag repeatedly. Now if that would only translate into eating – which is still an enormous struggle – that would be great. He is ‘kissing’ many new foods (allowing them on his lips), so that’s something to build on.
The funny thing is that everybody who works with him marvels at his hand dexterity. If there were a metric for the ability to control a dozen objects in one’s fingers simultaneously, he’d score off the chart. This kid can carry 4 blocks, 2 cars, and a pencil while holding a half piece of toast in each hand – and eat them. (The pieces of toast, not the other stuff.) The problem is that he can use this skill to hoard objects, so the concept of “get one ______” doesn’t really register with him. No matter how many you ask him to get, he’ll try to get as many as he can hold, which is often a lot. This presents the most challenges for him when he’s doing fine motor work and activities like manipulating blocks and beads. No matter how cool he is, you still can’t do certain things while holding a bunch of stuff.
We think it’s awesome that he’s much more able to build, construct, and assemble things now, like legos and pop beads. It’s been hard for him to sequence all of the necessary motor skills together to do more complex tasks, but he’s really improving here now!
Language skills and communication – (I actually omitted this last time I think. Oops.) 3! Solid progress this past quarter. He’s doing more and more with less prompting and cues, though he still needs them a lot when saying an entire word, though he’s working hard at doing this more independently.
His ability to communicate with pictures keeps making great strides, and we’re getting ready to implement a much more robust version of a picture communication system at home. He knows and understands more and more words and has added several new sounds this quarter that give him a wider range of words he can say more understandably.
His main (and nearly only) sentence is “I want ______”, and that’s great. What’s really funny is that at school when another student is too slow (in his opinion) in responding to a question, he’ll jump up and try to do it for them. Love it! If he doesn’t get a response from you for something he said, he’ll get louder about it and even get in your face sometimes – with eye contact! Yay for assertiveness and eye contact!
The bigger concern right now centers on hyperlexia, which I’ll discuss in more detail soon. We sort of dismissed it before, but it’s quickly turned into something we know we need to pay attention to now that we understand more about how he’s processing things. Show him a picture with a word label, and he can quickly get it. Pictures without words are much harder for him, though. An important question now is in determining to what degree he can grasp what concrete things all these words that he can read refer to.
Instructional behavior skills – still a 3*! He’s doing great with things like checking his picture schedule and being more independent about that. What’s hysterical, though, is that if he doesn’t like what’s on his schedule, he’ll go check other kids’ schedules until he finds what he wants to do! We love his personality!
He’s completing all sorts of tasks without much help. He’s showing more enthusiasm by jumping in to do something or say something asked of another student. They have to tell him to wait sometimes! He’s even showing a sly sense of humor by intentionally doing something ‘wrong’ and laughing about it!
Social skills – still a 2. We knew this was going to be an uphill climb for him. He’s still growing here, just more slowly than the other areas. He still doesn’t initiate play with other kids, but is at least interacting with them somewhat in highly structured activities. He’s actually taken toys from them on a few occasions, which in an autism classroom is cause for celebration! Peer interaction! We wish he wouldn’t shut down when new people are around. Things he can do with little effort become very, very hard for him when someone new is around. That’s OK, though. We’ll keep at it.
The big overall question is whether having a baby brother soon is going to cause some regression. It’s a concern for us, but like with most other things, we’ll be aware of it and cross those bridges when we get there. He’s much more resilient than we give him credit for!
We are proud of his many accomplishments! Go J-Man!