So yesterday was the long awaited for and simultaneously much dreaded IEP. I knew what to expect because I had already talked to the Speech therapist, and she told me she was increasing his Speech Therapy from 30 minutes a week to 60. Score! And the Occupational Therapist let me know that his scores for Gross Motor and Fine Motor don’t actually qualify him for OT, BUT his Sensory Processing Issues do. So she told me she was keeping him at 45 minutes a week for the next year.
We were also told that we would get both Speech and OT over the summer. So that was great news!!
Then there was the big looming question would we get the 1:1 Aide, and would they agree to his current Aide for the next 30 days? They agree that Mateo needs a 1:1 Aide, but they want to use their own. We are transferring out of the school district and the charter school he is going to has already agreed to what we are asking for. All the district has to do is put it in writing and they don’t even have to pay for it. So what’s the big deal?
Good question, we could back out, stay in the district and then the school district would have to agree to having OUR Aide there for 30 days. Is that really going to break the school district’s budget? How much are they saving using THEIR own Aide versus ours?
So nothing has been signed. They have to get back to me. I will still argue if they say no. I am hopeful that they will know we are leaving and just give us what we ask for.
The other part of the IEP is going over all of the evaluations they have done on Mateo over the past month. He was evaluated by the Speech Therapist, Occupational Therapist and School Psychologist. His improvements in Occupational Therapy were phenomenal! He has come really far with his balance, jumping and writing. His sensory issues are definitely apparent, and we are putting together a Sensory Diet for him. A sensory diet isn’t actually a food diet, it’s doing things that help Mateo with his sensory issues.
His speech was as I expected. He has so far to go. But he tries so hard, and the Speech Therapist said his willingness to try and learn will take him far.
And then the psychologist review. When Mateo was first diagnosed by the Psychologist from the Regional Center, he said- “Mateo is very borderline Autistic, you can always get him re-evaluated at 5 and see what they say.” I am not in denial, I know my child has Autism. He has wonderful qualities that set him apart- how he loves to play with kids, and follow his peers, and there is so much joy in him. So part of me always feels maybe things will turn around, maybe his Autism won’t be set him apart too much. Maybe learning and understanding won’t be so hard for him.
But then the review comes out and his scores on “Autistic-like” behavior are through the roof. And he does amazing with anything that is visual: puzzles, shapes, numbers, anything he has to just point to is easy for him. Ask him an obscure question. Ask him to find something in a book. Ask him what his favorite food is. He will look at you, trying to process the answer. The circuits in his brain are trying to connect. Sometimes he will blurt out a coherent answer, many times he doesn’t. That’s Autism.
It’s the reality when he’s evaluated that hits me. I am around him every day, he becomes the norm. But the numbers are there. What they are all saying is the truth. And in that moment I realize things aren’t going to be easy for Mateo in Kindergarten. No one is going to be turning his diagnosis around. He has Autism. It doesn’t define who he is, but we can’t deny the diagnosis. It’s here to stay.