Today was kind of our equivalent to the American (and, as far as I understood, very often dreaded) IEP meeting. However, our meeting today was very pleasant.
Let me preface this by saying that I am not completely informed about all the details what an IEP is about. But I know that we do not have such a thing here. Our paediatrician is the main person to decide about the therapies my son gets and she is the person to prescribe them. Apart from that there are so-called "social-paediatric centres" most commonly situated in hospitals around the country. This is where our developmental paediatrician is who usually sees Sunny once a year. Those centres can also prescribe therapies (which is sometimes necessary when you do not have a paediatrican who is as supportive as you need them to be).
So the meeting today, which is called a "support plan conversation", was basically about the goals for this school year and for the main targets the teacher wants to achieve until next year in July.
Before we went through her list she asked me to tell her whether I agree or disagree and, if the latter is the case, tell her my opinion so that we would reach a consensus on the main goals for this year in the end. I regret that I did not take any notes because I thought I would get minutes afterwards but I will not get any so I already forgot some of the things she said. However, I asked her to fill in the blanks (which she did) because I really would like to have most of this list complete.
The topic of Sunny's school year is called "I want to communicate - can you understand me?"
First she let me know what she thought were his likes and his dislikes. She was pretty precise on those things and I fully agreed.
- Music (no matter if it comes from an instrument or if it just plain singing)
- Sports and moving in general
- Balls and things that spin
- Loud noises (hair dryer, hand mixer, ...)
- Eerie places and situations (black light room, stories where animals suffer, illuminated pumpkin, St Nicolas, ...)
Then she moved on by analysing his strengths and weaknesses.
- His really impressive ability to memorise
- Use of sign language (e.g. for the letters A and M which have just been introduced - he searches for those letters in his surroundings)
- He is very attentive, monitors and observes everything around him very carefully
- Gets easily distracted
- Short attention span
- Gets quite tired on long school days
The main goals for this year will be:
1) Use the talker in order to communicate
We talked about the use at school and at home. I told her that he does not want to use it anymore at home since it is used at school every day. She will think about that because when I mentioned this in an AAC group I am part of some people suggested that it might be used too often for request situations and too little for communication purposes so the communication and fun factor might be missing. However, the differentiation between these two (requests/communication) is very difficult and the borders are blurred. So she will need to do a bit of reflection on that.
We also finally decided to start with the use of focus words. She was a bit hesitant at first but I suggested to just give it a try so we agreed on that and will see how it goes.
2) Improve Sunny's cognition, stability, and motor function, especially with regard to walking
Sunny is still a fairly unstable walker. Motivation is a big factor whether Sunny walks/likes to walk or not. When he wants to go somewhere, it cannot be fast enough. However, if he wants to go somewhere else than he has to, his will to walk is very small. In addition to that he is still very unstable so walking and going up and down stairs will be a main goal for this year.
3) Improve Sunny's self-dependence
The main targets with regard to self-dependence are Sunny's ability to help putting clothes on and taking them off, potty training and eating by himself.
All in all I can say that I really completely concurred with all that because these are the things we focus on at home, too. The conversation also showed me that we really pull together. It feels like we have a partnership and I think there is nothing better than that.
We exchanged information on what he does at home and what he does
at school because very often he does those things in a completely
different way. She also told me some funny episodes and when we talked about
his school buddies she told me that the whole class was so harmonious,
that everyone cares for everyone else and that Sunny is really very well
integrated into the group (which made me shed some tiny tears of
gratefulness and happiness).
I know I said it before and I will say it again: this lovely person was sent to us from heaven!