BeAGoodMom already did a write up about our latest IEP meeting.
I only have a couple comments to add.
First, a couple (or maybe even three years) ago, I argued for a bit at the IEP with his teacher. It was a very mild argument but the teacher stated that Pookie is so busy talking all day that he frequently isn’t paying attention. I agreed that the echolalia is a huge distraction and is constant but argued that he was almost always paying attention. Since it was only partially relevant to what was going on, I let it go.
This year at the IEP meeting his teacher brought up the echolalia and how constant it is but made a special point of mentioning how amazing it is that he can be fully engaged in his own echolalia AND paying attention to the teachers at the same time. Then a couple of the other teachers started talking about just that and how no matter what he is saying if they ask general questions to the class, Pookie is frequently the one to answer no matter how little it looks like he is paying attention.
Second, I have been fighting to get Pookie’s IEP to include some scheduled time in a regular classroom. They keep saying he is not ready for it and that his echolalia would be a distraction to the other kids, etc. etc.
We brought it up again this time and they instantly said that they are working on making it a goal of the ILP program in general to get the kids to spend part of their week in the regular classroom with an aid. It will probably start very small. Something like 5-15 minutes at a time maybe 2 or 3 days a week. I gently reminded them how important this issue is to me and they wrote a blurb about it in Pookie’s IEP. So after the first couple of weeks next year, if they haven’t already started to experiment with getting him in a regular class for a few minutes once in a while I will start bugging them about it.
Why is this so important to me?
I love the special ed department from the administrators down to the aides. They do great work with the kids they are responsible for and Pookie definitely needs that kind of attention right now for the bulk of his school day.
However, one of the main goals of special education for most kids with autism is teaching them social skills. Kids in a regular classroom learn a ton just by watching how other kids respond to each other and with their teachers. Pookie has very few good peer models for those types of behaviors. Just like Pookie is not the best model for the kids in his class, they are not the best models for him either. By definition, they aren’t which is why they are in the class they are in.
Pookie is definitely starting to pay attention to kids his age and watch what they are doing and often doesn’t know what to do about it. There was a kid in his swim class last session that kept coming up and trying to talk to him. Pookie tried a little bit but did a horrible job talking to this new kid. He just didn’t have any idea what he was supposed to do. I tried to help but it didn’t work very well. But, during class, the boy frequently would start to splash Pookie trying to get him to play. Pookie almost always would try to splash the kid back while jumping up and down in excitement and making eye contact with the kid and smiling. He needs to be around typically developing kids more often to start seeing how they behave in places like a classroom and to learn how to learn from them.
All in all, one of the better IEP meetings that we have had and yet another one where their plans for next year meshed well with our goals for next year.