A while back, October, maybe... I lost my shit on Alex's occupational therapist. She's a nice woman, I adore her, and I think she is GREAT at her job. She is my favorite OT ever. She's absolutely competent and loves her job. She does what is needed in a timely manner- in my opinion, going above and beyond- and I appreciate that. BUT, I did. Over a half-assed report that didn't tell me crap about what I needed to know to weigh in on a very important decision. The response came from Alex's principal. He said, "Mac, I will not allow cursing at staff." Then he very calmly and very politely (true) invited me to see how I was putting a team member on the defensive and how it was not good for the team. I very calmly and very politely (lie) invited him to see things from my perspective. I have already been put on the defensive, excluded from the team because I don't have the information necessary to weigh in on a bullshit, poorly thought out proposal. Later, after I calmed down a bit, I thought about what he said. I decided to hold onto it. I'll try it his way.
Over the past 5 months, when I get close to losing my temper, I think about his words. I've shortened it to the one phrase, but it works. mostly. I remember the conversation and I breathe. and then I try to be calm, clear, and polite. mostly. Alex's sister's principal is a freakin' piece of work, man. "I'm going to call my attorneys. More than one. I'm reaching for my phone, do you see me? I'm going to call them." Me: *blank stare* Alex's Mommy: "Call them. I want to talk to them, too." and then today, we're talking about Alex's sister not being able to do evaluations without her glasses, the wait list on getting in to the eye doctor she sees, and how that will affect the timeline. Principal: "well, we can't make the appointment FOR you." So, yeah, when it comes to that one, I fail miserably at not losing my temper. I could never be an advocate. But for the most part, I've tried hard and I've done pretty well. Those words got me through Goofy's evaluations with minimal rudeness.
And now we get to the problem...
We had the Goofy Child's eligibility meeting Thursday. Even with medication, Remedial Reading, RtI for handwriting, all of the accommodations in his 504 (and he has a lot), and the help he's getting at home... it's just not cutting it. He qualifies for an IEP under Other Health Impairment for his ADHD.
They keep saying he does best in "small group" and "1:1," they say he is highly distractible and off task in the classroom. They've already said we've tried all of this stuff. They say they are not planning on putting him in a self contained classroom. They say we will discuss it at the IEP meeting.
Here is my problem... what I'm not understanding... His RtI and Remedial reading will be moving to the resource room. He's losing private OT and getting school OT. He's moving his 504 accommodations to IEP accommodations. He's keeping his meds. What has changed? We are doing the exact same things and giving them different names. How is renaming what we are already doing going to help him more than what we are already doing? see the confusion? We will discuss it at the IEP meeting.
"Mac, I will not allow cursing at staff." What am I supposed to do? Where do I even turn for help here? Alex's school can't help me because Goofy's not their student. Every time I try to ask a question, I get sent to Goofy's Area Coordinator. I spent the night and the day thinking on it.
At Alex's school, we are a team. We work together, we talk things out, we share ideas, we share our experiences, we all want what is best for Alex and we all bust our asses to give him what he needs... and I can't help but think of how we got to this point. As unpleasant as my way can be, it's also effective and very much necessary at times. At Goofy's school, it's us and them. They will write the goals and when we approve them, we will have participated in making the IEP. Sorry, honey, that's not how it works. I have experienced how it is supposed to be and I can't go back to the old way. I am his parent. I am an equal and active member of my son's team and I cannot accept anything less.
In talking to my husband about it, he let me know clearly that he is not pleased. I go too far. Why can't I just let it go? Why do I have to be involved in everything? I have to admit that these past months have taken a toll on our marriage. Last week, we were even talking divorce. We decided against it. Well, he stopped talking about it when I told him to go for it, same thing. So, this school thing is a little bit of a sore spot and he is very disappointed that it's not completely over. It's not every day that you get to quote both Rowley and Slim Shady in the same argument. It was a good one. So, here's the thing... Even the law counts on the parents being involved.
Rowley: "Entrusting a child's education to state and local agencies does not leave the child without protection. Congress sought to protect individual children by providing for parental involvement in the development of State plans and policies, supra, at 4-5 and n. 6, and in the formulation of the child's individual educational program...As this very case demonstrates, parents and guardians will not lack ardor in seeking to ensure that handicapped children receive all the benefits to which they are entitled by the Act."
If you don't step up and take your place, who is going to protect your child's best interest and their rights? I cannot wait until the IEP meeting to be involved in the planning of the IEP. It's more efficient to help write the damned thing in the first place. Which is actually where Slim Shady comes in- yes, I have a foul mouth.
So, back on topic, I have a policy- always ask nicely...the first time. Pete and Pam say you should make them want to help you. I say don't give the option to refuse. So, I did all of the above. The Goofy One's case manager is his resource teacher. That means she's the one gathering people's stuff and putting it together. I told her that I would like to discuss the process just so I can understand clearly what my expected role is, I described how we do things at Alex's school, used key phrases that are easily recognized as being from NCLB, and IDEA (praying she's read either one...), and asked her how she would like for us to work together so that I can be involved in planning Goofy's IEP. I don't expect a response before Monday, but I'm hoping it will be a willingness to cooperate for the Goofy Child's best interest.