Thursday, September 30, 2010

At least I'm not alone

I went to visit Rachel's class today. There were a few things I was hoping to glean from this visit. First, I wanted to check up on her and see how well she was doing (reports back are always so positive). I wanted to see the differences between how she behaves and works at school versus at home. And, most important, I wanted to feel out the question of her placement following her scheduled IEP meeting next month.

The visit went really well. She didn't see me there at first and I got to observe her at play working at a bead table (pouring on/into her teacher's hands and into her own). It was a nice sensory exercise -- made sounds and had a different texture. And she looked like she was having a lot of fun. Then she went back to the table to go back to work. Shortly after getting to the table is when she noticed me. She's doing 15-17 tasks between motivational activities, which is MUCH higher than when I visited her last year (at that time they were just increasing it from 3). Her teacher informed me that this number is MUCH higher than the other students in the program. The fact is, they still aren't sure of how high she's ready for. They are continuing to increase it. And, because of that, she's just flying through the programs.

After I was there for a little while, I asked the teacher whether she felt that the committee was going to try to remove her from CAPP and transition her to PEP (probably INC). This was a question I was afraid to ask. She gave me a very quizzical look and asked me for my opinion on the subject. I wholeheartedly told her that I feel she needs to stay where she is -- she's doing great and we shouldn't change that. The only reason I called for the meeting was to update her goals. I swear, I heard a sigh of relief from her -- she agrees with me. And, apparently, so does the person who will be running the meeting (the school's liaison to the Autism Office). I was warned that there will be others present who feel that she SHOULD be transitioned, but at least I know, going into the meeting, I'm NOT alone in my thoughts on this subject. I don't have to convince EVERYONE. I may not have to convince ANYone as the others in the room may do that for me. This makes things much easier as I go into the next few weeks preparing myself for this meeting.

Her teacher did explain the consequences of keeping her in CAPP for another year, because there are trade-offs that need to be considered. CAPP really doesn't work on any academics -- it's pretty much a behavior and language-based program. Also, the program is 1-on-1. When she goes into kindergarten, the lowest ratio she will have is 3-on-1. And if she's ready to be placed in a fully-mainstreamed kindergarten classroom, I know that Daniel's class is 16 kids with only the 1 teacher. She needs to learn how to work with others, and CAPP doesn't focus on that goal.

There are ways around those issues. There were 2 students during the last school year who spent a portion of their days in the mainstream pre-K classroom. Now they're talking about extending that to the Kindergarten classroom. But because of the nature of kindergarten versus pre-K, it is an entirely academic program, with minimal play opportunities. But we can work out a process of mainstreaming her over time. Right now, the goal is to give her more reasonable goals, at her level. If I need to schedule another meeting in 6 months, or even less, to work out a plan, then so be it.

So, suddenly, I'm not so nervous about this upcoming meeting. I'm still a bit apprehensive and am not sure what to expect. But not having to worry about having Rachel's placement changed takes a HUGE weight off my mind and allows me to focus on other things. I still need to think about what I want to include in her goals. I also need to think about what I feel she needs to work on and determine the best way to make things happen. I also need to make sure that I don't OVERthink this, as I have a tendency to do.

But it looks like we're going to remain with CAPP for Rachel -- just as it should be.

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