The IEP season is upon us. IEP stands for Individualized Education Program – and it includes any services that Mateo will receive to help in his education process including Speech (either individual or group) and Occupational Therapy. Anyone with a child with Autism of preschool age and above feels the stress this time of year. The questions: What services will my child receive? Will I get what I ask for? Will it be enough?
This will be my third IEP, and Mateo is entering Kindergarten in August. He has had many evaluations with his speech therapist, occupational therapist and an assessment by the district’s school psychologist. Mateo’s preschool teacher, School Aides and Reuben and I have filled out tons of forms rating his behavior, social interactions and academic level.
But for the first time I am not overly stressed out about this IEP. The key word in that sentence is OVERLY, I am always stressed about these things, but Mateo has a really good team this year. A caring speech therapist who is actually looking out for his best interests. The same Occupational Therapist he has had for two years who is writing up a Sensory Diet for him. And a great new school psychologist who seems to be really trying to understand and get to know Mateo.
I am most concerned about his stemming and sensory issues. They seem to be increasing. Mateo has many independent words and amazes us each day with how much he knows, but people have a hard time getting past that when they see him running around in circles while hitting the top of his head and babbling. And I wonder what kids at a Main Stream school will say, how they will treat him. But I know I can’t protect him forever. His preschool friends have really accepted him and I am hoping his Kindergarten friends really see the amazing kid that he is too.
The speech therapist already told me she is increasing his speech for next year from the 30 minutes to 60 a week, so I know that will be in the IEP. I want his current Aide to come with him to his new school. I think that’s going to be my biggest struggle. But I have confidence that his new school is going to do what’s best for him and easiest for his transition. The hard part is that his new school isn’t in the district, but actually a Charter school. So they by law must follow this IEP for 30 days and then they will conduct their own. So I am stuck with my district’s decisions. Although, as everyone knows – I am never one to just take what I am offered.
The IEP is this coming up on Monday, so please send Mateo your best thoughts and wishes!