About this blog.

My son was diagnosed with PDD-NOS at 24 months. I created this blog to bring meaning to the often-confusing label. Sometimes I have answers. Other times, just more questions.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

First IEP!

Brad's big month continues. First potty training, and now...school! On the horizon.

We met with the school district on Wednesday and received our very first IEP. We also received his evaluations. Lots of interesting observations, but the bottom line is that he's at the low end of the normal range for speech and gross motor, and below the normal range for fine motor.

The IEP result - all good news:
  • He will attend an integrated preschool four 1/2 days per week. The integrated class is currently 11 children, at least half of whom are typical peers
  • For specialty services, he will receive two half hour sessions of speech per week
  • With his class, he gets access to an array of group activities geared to motor, physical and social development
His classroom teacher is a real standout. First off, he's a dude. He's very nice, and very knowledgeable about childhood education. Second, he plays the piano, for the kids. Brad loves the piano. We bought him synthesizer, and it's his favorite toy. Third, he seems to appreciate Brad as an individual, which is his job (hence, the "I" in IEP). But after having heard enough stories about underestimated and misunderstood children, I appreciate that he seemed to understand Brad.

To anyone afraid the "autism" label is a one way ticket to some sort of educational ghetto, I can only say: that's not my experience so far. Quite the opposite.

I should also add that while his diagnosis guaranteed placement at the special education preschool, given his social and communication function, in all likelihood, he would have nevertheless qualified. The children that I know of who have gone to the same school didn't have a diagnosis, including a neighbor of mine.

One final note. I considered sending Brad to Montessori or a regular preschool. While I appreciate that Montessori is regarded as cultivating free thinking in children who break the typical mold, at this age, Brad needs structure and routine, not broad freedom. As for regular preschool, I was reminded of this essay in which Kerry Cohen writes:
When I picked him up from our first stab at a regular preschool, one where special needs kids were supposed to be welcome, I always had to brace myself for their day's account. He didn't listen. He cried and cried and they didn't know why. He wouldn't sit with the other children during story time.
I wonder if this isn't an inevitable result for SPD and PDD kids, the result of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Why subject Brad to that?


Patience said...

First of all I think it's great that Brad has a good placement.

DD did go to a regular preschool and was accepted there with no complaints and lots of love. I would have liked an integrated preschool but there were few at the time and mostly filled with DS kids registered from birth.

School was another matter and they fought us every step of the way against integration. We had to pull her out and homeschool until we met some supportive people in the system.

Finally I do think that many camps that bill themselves as integrated either want you to hire a shadow or want a well medicated compliant child. Ideally they also want either a placid DS kid or a wheelchair kid for photo ops.

Hope I'm not too cynical but this was our experience. DD is out of the special needs category now except for auditory processing support but I still carry the scars of the past.
I'm glad you're off to a better start than us 10 years ago.

Stimey said...

This sounds great! I hope it works out for you guys!

Laura said...

Stimey, thanks. The start of another long journey I suppose.

Patience, eek. Yes it is cynical but I'm sure it's true in part. Schools put a premium on compliance. I'm not suggesting that Brad's IEP defies this principle. But Brad IS compliant - he fits the mold in that respect. I observe it. All of his therapists have observed it. And, alas, the school observed it.

~ April ~ said...

That sounds very exciting! When does he officially start, or has he already?

Shari said...

Laura, I'm so glad I found this blog. Early Intervention thinks my 29 mo. old son is autistic. We found out about a month ago. I happened upon your blog and read it from the beginning. It's nice to see a different viewpoint. My little guy did not "get" autism from vaccines; he's never had any. None. I am also wary of "the diet." I really appreciate reading a calm, level headed view. And I can relate to your initial fears and reaction.
I hope that Brad does spontaneously recover. It looks likes he is doing well. My son is very language delayed (about 10 words total), and no pretend play. The rest of his "symptoms" seem like just a quirky personality to me. But hearing "autism" makes me look at him different, and I hate that. I wish your family the best and look forward to reading about your journey.

Laura said...

April - Thanks! Yeah, I should have mentioned: he starts at the end of January, which is when he turns three and ages out of early intervention.

Shari - Thanks for the note. That's nice to hear. Yeah, I went through dark days in the beginning. You're not alone, if it's any consolation. And you know, your little guy is still the same little guy. He really is. That eye contact and joint attention that pick up on? It's still there. Early intervention and a label can't take that away from you. As for skepticism about treatment and whatnot, you go girl! I'm all about skepticism. Best wishes to you and your family...

Melissa said...

As an autistic support teacher and a fellow mommy of a kiddo with PDD, I am thrilled to hear that your first foray into the school system has been so positive! I love it!

Happy Holidays!

Judith U. said...

This placement sounds perfect for Brad. Enjoy peace and progress in the days to come! Can't wait to hear how it goes.

Anonymous said...

Just had to say I love the "educational ghetto" line!
I'm SO glad the first IEP experience was a positive one. I always appreciate your honesty - there are so many IEP war stories out there, it's nice to hear about a good result. I'm sure Brad will really thrive in school!