We had Thing Two's IEP meeting this morning.
For those among you fortunate enough not to know that acronym, it stands for Individualized Education Program. As defined by federal regulations, these programs are tailored for each individual child with disabilities and describe in detail what all teachers and service providers will be doing over the course of the year for that child to help them to learn more effectively.
Often IEP meetings become battlegrounds, since special ed costs money and a lot of it. Budget-sensitive schools are under pressure to keep costs down, while parents and guardians push for additional costly services for their kids. I've read horror stories from both sides of the table and they generally end up involving lawyers and getting really, really ugly. Thankfully, Thing Two's IEP meetings are not like that at all.
It was difficult to get him classified initially, because his disability is severe in one area but he is otherwise at or well above grade level. We pushed because we knew he needed help, and eventually prevailed. The second day he was at the school, the teacher called and said that her evaluations suggested that we should add a third weekly session of speech therapy and also OT to his IEP, which we took as a good sign that they were actually going to go above and beyond in trying to help this child out from behind the eight ball, not just do the bare minimum required by law. In the five years since then, the team has consistently showed that they care about him and want him to succeed. And they have continued to add to his IEP where they think it would be useful: with his language skills radically improved, last year they started him on a small-group social program without us even having to ask for it.
For next year, he is getting absolutely everything we could have hoped for. Partial aide support for core subjects (meaning that the aide supports multiple kids--he doesn't need 1:1 help) just to help keep him focused and redirect and answer questions when needed. Speech and the small social group are continuing. And he has now outgrown the OT! No more of that necessary except where needed for consults regarding any personal space issues. Slowly but surely, he is progressing toward whatever 'normal' might be, although we have a ways to go yet (and might not ever get there completely; who knows.) According to his teacher, his grades in all subjects are excellent and his classroom behavior is generally appropriate and not distracting...hallelujah!! Reading comprehension continues to be an issue, not surprisingly, but we're working on it. At any rate, those meetings are always very stressful for us even though they are collegial (who wants to be faced with a group of people telling you all the things your kid is having trouble with??) but today's was very positive and encouraging and I am SO relieved I cannot even begin to tell you. Whew.