Saturday, May 28, 2011

Stepping Up Related Services - Extended Year

There's a bit of jubilation in the air. An email came in from the CSE Chair. My husband is copied on all correspondence and he said, "you're going to want to read this". I was enjoying lunch at the time. Thinking it was something that was going to get the acid started in my stomach, I thought I would finish my meal. Tony, my dear husband, said "I think you're going to like this". I've had such a long, struggle meeting eye to eye with the district that I couldn't imagine anything at this point would make me happy. The district has been less than agreeable.

Finally, with a certain amount of trepidation, I opened the email. There was an apology from the Chair with something about he intended to discuss it at the meeting but it fell to the way side. I thought, hmm, if this piece was predetermined it should've appeared on the draft IEP. I can't help to question the sincerity and motives of the distrist as they appeared only interested in their own agenda. At the meeting, I shared background about my son that got their immediate attention. Things that frankly, I shouldn't have been compelled to do but all information about Aren that can help the district meet his educational needs is all that matters. I think the change in these considerations are squarely the result of disclosing more pieces of my son's world.  Sometimes, people can be short  sighted and blinded by their own self interests.  When people are not exposed to different cultures, it creates a tunnel vision.  And, we continue to have serious issues connected to race especially in homogenous communities.  Thoughts that are clouded by prejudices have the real potential of impacting civil liberties.  I'm not saying that's what happened.  I'm saying, it's a real possibility.

I realize, what is apparant to me might not be obvious to others unless we open a window to help them see. The district loses sight that parents bring very important life experiences to the table. When parents want to bring them in to show things from their point of view, districts need to listen carefully and with sincerity. Many parents are only wanting to see their children succeed and receive the services they are entitled to under the law. Districts need to stop saying "we don't see it here" and attempt to convince parents, if they don't see it, it doesn't impact learning. Rubbish. Everything about a child has the potential to impact their education. And, there are somethings more obvious than others.  That is where active, careful listening steps in.

The district has offered an extended school year ESY for my son!  On the draft IEP, this category was a negative.  This piece was removed from last year's IEP.  It has been demonstrated that once a dsitrict removes a service or accommodation, it's usually at the point of no return.  This is why I'm skeptical of  the district's original intent.  I know, you're probably saying, what does it matter so long as he's getting the services.  Well, it matters because there was a huge struggle to arrive as this point in the destination.  And, it came about with a great deal of stress.  In my mind, based on my son's diagnosis, the extended year is a given because he is lacking behind by two years in reading!  Since the very beginnning, it's repeated over and over, my son needs a lot of repetition so again, ESY is absolutely necessary.  That is why we have these laws in the first place.  It is to ensure children with disabilities are given the same opportunites  to succeed as non-disabled children.  That translates into additional accomodations.

Included in the ESY, Aren will receive speech and language twice each week and occupational therapy once each week.  The district is looking into adding in academics so my son can continue to work on math.  All of this is very positive for my son and I'm elated the dsitrict has come across.  However, I'm still holding out for the dsitrict to restore the PDD-NOS, ADHD and add in Dyslexia and Non Verbal Language Disorder NVLD.   These are what my son has been diagnosed with and it's important it's in the IEP.  I don't know where things will change in the future and as long as my son is in school, he needs these alerts.  It is important because anyone who interacts with Aren, must have a clear understanding so that they can appropriately meet his needs and make adjustments wherever it's needed.

Yes, I'm doing a little dance for my son.  This is not about me and winning against a district.  It's all about my son getting what he needs.  With that being said, it's appropriate to feel a bit celebratory in this regard.

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