There is no “hurry up” in the IEP (Individual Education Plan) process. It takes commitment and time.
If patience is a virtue, I went to the University of Virtue last spring.
Double Minor: Anxiety and Irritation
Here is what getting an IEP really looks like (at least in our experience):
Our first official Child Study meeting was February 9. Aaron and I stepped into a small room packed with teachers and specialists at 8:15am on a Monday morning. There were around 12-13 people chosen to discuss Benji’s situation.
After sharing our concerns, we agreed to start with an auditory processing test. After this test, the group would reconvene, review the results, and see if we were going to move forward with a full-blown Child Study to see if Benji qualified for Special Education services, and ultimately, and IEP.
It felt like a huge step.
In reality, it was the first on a 1000 mile journey.
And let me tell you, the weather on this journey was horrific, literally. We had snow day, after ice day, after 2-hour-delay, after it’s-too-cold day.
Because of all the delays and cancellations, the speech therapist did not administer the auditory processing test until March 9.
Yep, it took a whole month.
My nerves were starting to fray. The school year was slipping through my fingers. Are we going to be able to get him help this year?
I wanted to get the ball rolling again and I asked the principal and teachers about when the next Child Study meeting would be.
Finally, on March 24, more than two weeks after the test, we met again.
Aaron and I had copies of the auditory processing test and the specialist and I had been able to discuss the results before the meeting.
The outcome? Benji did, indeed, struggle with auditory processing and the speech therapist recommended that the school conduct a full Child Study.
“What does that mean?” we asked.
And we got a truckload of information. A Child Study is an exhausting endeavor: 12-13 tests (reading/math/writing + psychological exams + + +), a medical exam–even a meeting with a social worker to discuss family life.
Our eyes widened and we exchanged glances. Woah. Do we really want to do this? Nervous was one word for how we felt.
But, yes. We wanted to do the Child Study.
We signed paper after paper.
It was a good beginning to an even slower process.
There were more delays. The week after we signed the papers was Spring Break. Then Aaron’s grandma died the next week and we went to Florida for the funeral. By the time we got back it was close to the end of April.
I scheduled the medical check up and we met with the Social Worker at the public library for a very pleasant 90 minute. (The Social worker meeting really freaked us out, not that we had anything to hide. But still. We primarily discussed our family history and Benji’s medical history, his personality, and how he interacts in our family).
By now, it was the beginning of May. I finally realized that the Spring semester was a lost cause–we wouldn’t be getting help for Benji this year. As one day rolled into another, I wondered if we would even have answers by the end of the school year.
I never knew when they were administering the tests. Benji struggles to communicate daily events so asking him was not an option.
Because I did ask for updates in the Child Study meeting, I occasionally got a phone call from a specialist when a reading or math assessment was administered.
I really appreciated that.
I tried to communicate with his teacher, asking her to write a note in his agenda on the days he had testing. I think she remembered to do it once.
I did not appreciate that.
June was looming large with all it’s warmth and promise of summer. And I still didn’t have answers.
I wanted to know the test results.
I wanted to know if he would even qualify for special services (What if he didn’t? Did we do all this for nothing?!).
And most of all, I wanted to know if he was going to pass first grade.
That was the answer I craved the most…but was the most terrified to hear.
To be continued…