Friday, April 10, 2015

IEP updates

   March was crazy, thankfully April seems to be getting better. Nixon had a horrible month at school and I was having a rough time at home dealing with all the crap that kept coming happening because apparently even though Mac is gone Life didn't realize I didn't need a crap ton of lemons poured into my lap.

   Last week Nixon had spring break. Well, he had school on Monday and then his spring break began. Spring break lasted through Tuesday of this week, which was not his best day back to school. even on his break he had rough days. He had a meltdown at the mall over lunch....freaking lunch! I was asking him what he wanted to eat after he asked if he was hungry. He spent most of his break telling me I'm asking too many questions, resulting in him going quite rigid and tensing his entire body.
   We did have some good times. We had a lovely Easter morning, spent a couple lazy mornings in bed watching TV together and found an alternative to the aquarium visit because after the mall fiasco that was pretty much off the table.


    Yesterday was my IEP reevaluation meeting. It was supposed to happen in March, but snow days and spring break pushed it back five weeks. 
     I was stressed about this meeting. I'm very unimpressed with Nixon's treatment and assistance at the school, even with after I gave my cellphone number to the aide with a request to be contacted whenever a meltdown goes beyond a point that they feel they can handle anymore. I had warned the IEP board in January, that March was going to see Nixon most likely experience a behavioral regression due to Mac's departure for his 13 week training course. My warnings were forgotten and Nixon's behavior did in fact regress to a point far worse than even the beginning of the year. It doesn't help that there are days the schedule changes 2-3 times throughout the day. To most kids, this is no big deal. To Nixon, this is a trigger for a meltdown. He needs routine, time to prepare for changes, time to process and time to cope. He's not getting any of that. 
   The IEP he currently had, allowed for 1 hour out of his classroom for a one-on-one learning setting. This was, at my insistence, supposed to be given during the bulk of the learning at the beginning of the day. Instead it was being given whenever it was convenient and usually at the end of the day,resulting in Nixon being uncooperative/agitated and often perceived as angry, when really he's so overstimulated from the changes throughout the day he can't handle any more changes.   
    The result of the meeting ended up being something I felt all along: Nixon's current school is not a good fit nor are they properly equipped to provide him the assistance he needs. This actually came from a member of the County's Central IEP Board.
   But there's a larger problem.
   Nixon's behavioral issues require him to be in a smaller, more personal classroom setting. A special Education setting, ideally. However, Nixon's educational needs require him to be challenged more than he would be in a Special Education classroom. Nixon is a puzzle that the Central IEP Board is looking to solve. He's academically bright, at level or above level, in most subjects. It's his social and behavioral developmental needs that are presenting the larger issues. And his school haven't the proper resources to help him. 
    Unfortunately, none of the public schools in our county can't meet Nixon's particular needs. 
    Which leads us into new and further uncharted waters: The Central IEP Board take cases like Nixon and with the help of the school, parents, and other professionals they find a private or charter school that is a good fit and will meet the needs of the student and work to place them there, with no expense to the family. The home school (in this case Nixon's elementary school) funds the tuition, and if the child meets the requirements will be able to return to the school when ready.
    There's a process, much like college applications, as it was explained to me. The Board will interview Nixon, the school counselor and OT who has worked with him, myself (and Mac if he's back) and his teacher. I believe Nixon's principal will also speak to the board, at her own request. 

    While I can't say I feel overjoyed by this newest development. I can say it will most likely result in an educational setup that is in Nixon's best interest, and that is all I want. 
     This whole situation: Nixon's diagnosis, his behavioral issues, his school's view on his actions, how he feels about his school's views and more, it wears on me. Facing that meeting alone, knowing there are adults in that room who can't (and don't try to) understand Nixon and how his mind works, instead constantly insisting his actions are planned and of a conscious nature, caused me a deep moment of anxiety. I spent nearly 10 minutes simply explaining "scripting" and Nixon as a result of Mac and I creating scripts for Nixon. 
   *Scripting is common in high-functioning autistic children and adults. They develop scenes or scripts to follow for events, and do so. Nixon's well-mannered because of his scripting. He also, when he calms down after a meltdown, apologizes. But he's not apologizing and admitting he was aware of his actions. He's apologizing as a reaction to the faces of those around him and because of the script he has in his head that he follows. Unfortunately, most people don't know about scripting and they just assume Nixon is accepting responsibility for his actions by apologizing. And I saw my explanation fall on some deaf ears in yesterdays meeting. I also had 2 administrators ask me some questions after the meeting, about Nixon and his "scripts" which made me realize my short advocating speech wasn't totally pointless.*

   I don't know what the rest of the school year will look like. I know there are members of the school administration who would like to keep Nixon out of the school effective immediately. But that's not really possible because it came to light that the school was implementing his IEP plan out of convenience to their schedule instead of the requirements of it to his needs. And that came out in front of the Central IEP Board representative. Had the school been doing everything to the letter in regards to his IEP and nothing was working, then yes, perhaps they could have expelled him. However, since that's not the case they cannot do that at this time.
    Thankfully, I'm the parent that doesn't know shut up and get with the program! Instead, I spoke up, I made sure I spoke up and I kept speaking! I didn't make friends, but I have a few supporters in our corner and they're on the county's payroll not the school's. They're the ones who can help Nixon the most and help do what's best for him.