Thursday, February 28, 2013

IEP Denied!

Yesterday we met with my youngest son’s elementary school to see if he qualified for an IEP. Unfortunately he was denied because he scored “low-average” in speech. I found it amusing that when the speech therapist did her observations of my son’s social communication skills she did so at a distance while watching him at recess. She explained in her report that my son and another student “appeared” to be interacting in positive communication based on body language observed from a distance. She could not hear what the conversation sounded like, whether my son was engaging in appropriate turn taking or if he was talking non-stop about Mindcraft Mods as he currently does every time we ride in the car, instead she was only able to confirm that his body language appeared to look appropriate.

For the clinical evaluations of language fundamentals, both the teacher and parent reports came in as being below average, but the fact that he could look at flash cards and score in the low-average range for language pragmatics was all the school needed to confirm that he did not qualify for an IEP, as they added, it appears that he has the skills, he just doesn’t always use them in real life/time situations.

The speech therapist’s observations that he keeps a distance from others at all times while moving with his class, that he behaves off task or that he had a meltdown on the playground where he announced that “This is the worst day ever!” were all dismissed under the comment that “yes he has his quirks.”

And as icing on the cake, the principal urged me that there was no real reason to create a 504 plan since we can make accommodations as we go and that 504s weren’t really necessary.

Well he has another thing coming, I will be pursuing the 504 if only for the legal protections it provides my son.

In addition, the school psychologist tried to encourage the staff to force my son to remain in the music class even if he was feeling sensory overload because in her words, “Children that have these accommodations grow up to not be ready for the real world and can’t handle everyday stress that a job would create.” I responded by saying,“My son faces stress everyday that he has to manage, just riding in the car with his brothers can be too much to bear, but he has to learn to endure it. What I want to teach my son is to be aware of his limits and remove himself from stress before he hits a girl in his class (something that he has done before), I think he has enough challenges in his day and I see no benefit in forcing him to endure unnecessary sensory overload at school.”

As the meeting came to an end, the school psychologist pulled me aside to confirm the rumors my oldest son brought home from middle school the same day, she informed me that yes, a young teacher from the middle school committed suicide the night before. Then she used this as an example of how our kids need exposure to stress so they don’t make a decision like this in their future when life gets hard.

What I think she failed to recognize is that life is already hard for our kids and removing non-essential stressors while they are young allows them the ability to learn and grow in a positive manner which will allow them to be productive individuals when they enter the “real world”. The last thing I’m worried about is that my boys aren’t facing enough challenges, I think they’ve had their fair share.

Plus, might I add, I doubt that my youngest son will choose a career where he surrounds himself with over 30 bouncing 8 year olds who are singing off-key and banging musical instruments inches from his ears.

I’m just saying...


  1. This is appalling, unfortunately a lot of schools are like this. I have two kids who have had sensory issues, they have mostly outgrown them, or they are not as noticable now as when they were in elementary school. Are there other schools in your area? We went through 3 schools before we found the right fit. Hugs to you, from another mom who knows what you are going through. Your childen are lucky to have you.

    1. Thanks, yes we are looking at alternatives, so far we haven't found a fit, but I haven't given up.

  2. The thing is...public school is nothing like the adult real world - except in the instance of those adults that work in public schools. The rest of us can surround ourselves in chaos free work environments, work outside, work with our hands if we want, choose who we surround ourselves with, go to the bathroom when we want...and on and on. So that whole 'real world' case is such a load.

    If your son does not get accommodations now, don't despair. Over time he will start acting out so much he will get them. And then the challenge will be getting the teachers to adhere to them - especially in middle and high school. That is the insanity of the real world of public school.

    1. Hi MEG!!! I missed you, it’s so good to hear from you again. I think you're right, until my son becomes a problem, they aren't going to do much. I met with a neuropsychologist for my youngest son’s spectrum assessment and one of the first things she said is that the school will try to do as little as possible and until he demonstrates aggression to others, they won't do much in our case.

  3. Ugh! I think kids in general are facing much more stress than ever--and the sink or swim method is not the way to learn to handle stress. I can't believe they used a suicide as an example either.
    Maybe (if YOU give your son the permission) and he leaves the music class a few times (and goes somewhere you think he will be safe, like the office,) they will take notice. That seems like it might be a way to push things without waiting for violence to erupt. (unless bucking the rules adds stress for your son. Mine loves to leave class--with or without permission.) But it does seem that resisting authority is another place where the school feels it has to act.