IEP meetings aren't fun... let's just state the obvious here and move on from there. They're a very necessary part of being a special needs parent and I accept that. I wouldn't miss one for anything but that being said I can honestly say that I dread them each year and would pretty much rather have a root canal than go to one.
This year's meeting was a fairly positive one as those things can go. Nick made some great progress both academically and with respect to his behavior over the school year. His independence in academic tasks was where the biggest growth was found. He still struggles with what seems like impulse control issues that can affect his behavior and cooperation level, but his level of aggressive behaviors is way down and he's been able to express himself in a more positive manner when he becomes frustrated with either the teaching staff or other students. Of the five goals set for him he met three of them. Vocalizations are up, he's writing more independently and he's following through on tasks without needing visual prompts for help with every completed project. The two goals he did not meet involved tasks where frustration and boredom took over and he'd lose his focus and try to get through the exercises with little or no effort. Three out of five -- I'll take that!
It was decided at this meeting that Nick might be better suited for a different class to finish out elementary school next year. The school district that he's in is restructuring their autism program and there are some classes being formed that would more specifically cater to both his strengths and areas where he needs more work. The lady who's the head of the district's special ed program met with Nick's teacher a week or so before our meeting and mentioned to her that Nick might be a candidate for one of the newer type classroom settings. Nick's teacher and I have spoken throughout the school year about how he has shown signs that he's not being challenged enough in his present class. The hope is that this will be a better setting that will present him with more challenges and push him out of his comfort zone a little bit. Every teacher he's had has mentioned that Nick is capable of so much more than he lets on or has been willing to do. The hope is that this new environment will push him to show his true capabilities.
Here comes the hard part - having Nick leave a school that he's used to, a teacher that he's fond of and classmates that he's known for the past couple of years, some longer. He does pretty well with change so I am sure he'll acclimate to his new surroundings pretty quickly once school begins again, but it's still going to be a big adjustment. For me it's always hard when he leaves a teacher who understands and cares for him and has made a big difference in his life and he's definitely found that in Mrs. Howard. I get attached to the people who work well with my son and I'm anxious about someone else taking over that task in the fall. He's been pretty lucky in the past with some great teachers so I'm hoping that will happen again. I do expect to be very sad at his end of the school year gathering on Thursday as one door closes and we wait to see what's on the other side. I have a great deal of faith in my son and know he'll flourish in the right environment. I am so hoping we made the right decision and this will be where he starts to make real progress and shine.
I'd be neglectful if I didn't mention that this IEP meeting was the first one that his daddy participated in. This was also the first meeting that Nick was present for. I think it did him good to see his daddy involved and I know I appreciated the support there as well. Kudos to him for stepping up and doing this for our boy and for me as well. This was by far the easiest meeting I've been to and I have a few under my belt. His presence did make the difference and it showed Nick that Mama and Daddy were united in our support and both have high hopes for his future progress and share a devotion to that goal. Thanks again, Daddy O.