Monday, April 15, 2013

IEP Success!

It is IEP season; time to negotiate Callie’s IEP for this fall, the start of her second year of preschool.  If you remember my update from last summer, you will know that the first time we went through this process was a nightmare.  The county assigned Callie to the wrong type of classroom in a school far from our home.  Then they mailed our IEP to the wrong address (privacy issue!) and therefore we did not receive a copy until hours before our first meeting.  The IEP itself was a mess, including many typos, referring to Callie as Joshua at one point (!), and it contained weak goals and laughable therapy minutes (just 20 minutes of PT despite the fact that she was hardly walking and only 30 minutes of speech when she had no words and limited sounds).  It was ridiculous and the process of working with the school teams was frustrating and stressful.  We muddled through the process as best we could and learned quite a bit.  While I felt more prepared with what to expect this year, I was also really dreading going through the process again.

But I am so incredibly relieved to report our experience was completely different this year.  I asked Callie’s teacher to please provide the first draft of the IEP as early as possible before our meeting so that this time I would have ample time to review it and better prepare.  Not only did she provide it weeks in advance, but it was a work of art compared to last time.  The information was accurate, neat, and organized, the PLOP (present level of performance) section was right on, and the goals were strong and appropriate for Callie.  We were starting in a much better place.  I went through it with a fine tooth comb and made a list of requested tweaks, and then met with the volunteer advocate I consulted with last summer.  I ran my ideas by her and she helped confirm what she felt was important to bring up with the team and what was worth letting go.  My main concern was Callie’s speech therapy minutes.  We were still at 60 per week, but now that her diagnosis is severe apraxia, this really was not enough.  Childhood apraxia of speech requires intense and frequent speech therapy.  3-5 sessions per week are recommended.  I decided to request 120 minutes, double what Callie was currently receiving.  While I felt this was truly what Callie needed, I dreaded bringing this to the IEP team because I had to beg, plead, and finally cry to get 60 last year.  What would it take to get to 120??  I did extensive research and put together a case like an attorney prepared for court.  Much to my shock, the team agreed to all 120 minutes of speech therapy in our very first meeting!  In addition, they agreed to increase her minutes from 60 to 120 immediately so that she would receive the addition therapy through the end of this school year.  They also doubled her OT minutes from 30 to 60.  I cannot tell you how pleased I am that a.) Callie finally has an appropriate and strong IEP, and b.) it only took one meeting to get to this point.  Last year the process dragged on through July.  This year we are settled in April!  What a relief.  I am so incredibly thankful the process went smoothly and am so happy for Callie.  It feels like a huge accomplishment to have successfully advocated for her.  I love this girl and would do anything for her! 


Mel on April 19, 2013 at 8:28 PM said...

You are awesome!! Way to advocate for Callie!!! It sounds like she'll be able to make even more amazing progress with the additional minutes!


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