At the end of September was our first IEP meeting. IEPs are Individual Education Plans and are the tool that schools use to provide services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Schools are required to provide the services that are in the IEP and to work with the students to achieve the goals that are in the IEP. Not following an IEP can be considered a failure to provide a free and appropriate public education (FAPE).
Our IEP meeting was scheduled virtually and took place on Microsoft Teams. The biggest wrinkle in our IEP meeting plan was that Lila came down with another ear infection and a fever. So she needed a PCR Covid test, and labs are backed up so it took 48 hours to get it back. So she was home for the meeting and it’s hard for her to understand she is not supposed to bother Mommy and Daddy during their Very Important Meeting. She remained pretty well behaved, which was a relief. The other major issue was that Microsoft Teams does not work well via the web interface and it kept refusing to let me unmute so I had to shout towards Mark’s computer while he unmuted.
IEP meetings can be wonderful and collaborative or they can be really stressful. They are often difficult for parents whose kids present more typically than Lila, because the schools will try to claim that a child doesn’t need an IEP or doesn’t need particular services or goals because they are doing well in school. They can also be difficult for children with more significant needs because a school might try to put the child in a more restrictive setting when the parents want them to be in a general education setting, or might not want to provide services because the child isn’t progressing towards the services. IEPs are also really difficult and stressful for the teachers because they often require things like specific documentation of attempts to reach targets, and having multiple students with IEPs can be challenging because each IEP is different. (Solutions and ways to improve this are a subject for a later letter though.)
We are fortunate that our meeting was on the more collaborative side. I had spoken with our PT and SLP beforehand about goals and knew what they were going to suggest for services. We had not discussed goals with our OT beforehand and the services recommendation on her report was what we had agreed on for virtual services, so we had to correct that afterwards. I was very concerned that we needed to thread the needle between not getting a preschool based program and accidentally putting her in something more restrictive than she needs. Especially in a pandemic, it feels a little like flying blind in trying to express how great Lila is doing and how well she interacts with typical peers and needs to be in an inclusive setting, but not acting like she should stay in her daycare and receive itinerant services (aka someone takes her to our zone elementary school to receive speech twice a week).
After the meeting, the IEP is drafted. After the IEP is drafted, we all review it and correct any mistakes. Then it gets finalized and sent over to the Placement office and the Placement office decides what program she needs to be in. Everyone in the meeting was in agreement about what kind of program would be best for her but it still took a week to get a draft and another week to get it signed and submitted to the placement office. This morning I got a text from our physical therapist saying she had gotten the placement letter and she was excited because it was the placement we wanted (where she is the regular PT and will get to keep working with her). She texted it over to me and I registered Lila for school.
We still aren’t sure exactly when she will start (and we have not technically gotten our formal placement letter but I am ignoring that and charging ahead before they can tell me there is a problem and they need to change the placement), but we are ironing that out and hopefully will be able to make an offer to the nanny candidate we found and figure out start dates and get things moving ahead. Fingers crossed for a smooth transition now that she has finally settled into a good routine at daycare….