Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Written Record

Good news on ESY (extended school year) came with a phone call from the vice-principal. This is the same person who told me they didn't provide this type of service—just summer school for children who didn't meet their IEP goals. I explained that my son's IEP didn't have academic goals, all his goals are behavioral and social. I made a formal request in writing, so the subject couldn't be pushed under the rug until it was too late to accommodate my request. The school official called and said he is eligible (after checking with the head of Special Ed), but that they would schedule an IEP for April in order to see how he is doing on his goals. RED FLAG! I have a feeling this is going to mean I still have a little skirmish ahead. But I am preparing my ammo in the form of every call from the school, every detention and every suspension is being written down in a notebook. So when he behaves the week before the meeting and they state that he is "meeting his goals" I can fire back with all the calls I have received since my request. Just the sight of my notebook of what they have had to call me about should settle the issue. Yes, this is a lot of work and hopefully I won't need to use it, but it is comforting to know that I have documentation—just in case.

I have gotten services for my son that other special needs children have been denied. There are many reasons:

  • I research. If I hadn't spent hours and hours on the internet and in seminars to find out what services my son is entitled to have he would not be receiving the services.
  • I ask.If you don't ask it's likely you won't receive the services. If I feel there might be an issue or they are slow in meeting request I make my request in writing.
  • I work hand in hand with the school. Only after I am convinced I can't get the services by working together then I will fight them for what is needed.
  • I document. (I document, I document, I document) Did I mention I document? I have used my notes in order to go over heads and make a strong case. If I were to say "I think I requested this around January or February, but I can't remember to whom" this holds a lot less weight than "I spoke to Mrs X. on the phone on January 19th about requesting ESY, when we met on January 25th during our IEP, I handed Mrs. X a letter with my request."
  • I request all reports that will be used in meetings to be sent to me prior to the meeting. I write this next to my signature allowing them to administer the test. I then verbally let them know I expect the reports prior to the meeting. I want the time to review the reports they will be using in the meeting so I can question areas they might skip over or so I can be prepared to question results.
  • I stop meetings. If I feel the other members are wrong or if I don't understand some of their shortcut language I don't mind stopping the meeting to correct a point or to ask what they are talking about. This is how I got the OT (Occupational Therapist) to review her initial report of no need for services. I gave her copies of reports from Children's Hospital with an evaluation stating these sensory issues, then told her some of the issues we saw at home. When I stated these reasons in the meeting David's one-on-one said she had seen those issues in the classroom also. After talking to the OT specialist she admitted she had spent one class observing him and some of the issues she saw she put down as behavioral and not sensory (since she had been prepped by the school on his behavioral issues). David is now receiving accommodations for sensory issues. I do understand that she has a limited amount of time and many children to evaluate, but my job is to make sure my son is receiving the services he needs to be educated properly.


Becky K. said...

We, as parents, truly our our child's best advocate.

Kudos to you for doing your homework and doing what you know is best for your child.

I homeschool my three, the oldest has serious learning challenges. The public school just wasn't the right place for him.

The Mom's instinct is a very important thing!

Becky K.

Richard D said...

Becky - Kudos to you for taking on the full responsibility for educating your children, especially with the accompanying learning challenges. Our children would be so much the better where all parents to take on this responsibility if they are able.

Our son has issues that preclude us from fully educating him at home. We wish would could homeschool him, but his education would suffer in some important ways if we tried to do this. For this reason, my wife spends almost 100% of her time trying to make sure his public education is handled appropriately.

Keep up the good work you're doing for your children.

Anonymous said...

Documentation is so important in other areas as well. When we were taking care of my father-in-law being able to pull out and read from the notebook that my hubby and I were keeping went a long way in having the professionals take us seriously when we asked questions about his care.
Rita in Oly

Becky K. said...


It is so important that we recognize and take responsibility for the best education for each of our children. They are all so different and what is right for one is definitely not best for all.

Just in case you thought I had a hint of criticism in my comment...Totally None intended.
I have to be sure you read me the right way...

I am glad to hear that you are able to get what your son needs. It is a true blessing to him to have parents as truly caring and involved as both of you are.

It is not an easy path you have chosen...but worth it if your son benefits!!!!!


Richard D said...

Becky- No, I didn't detect any criticism. We actually really wish we could homeschool our son. Along with the many services available to our son through the public school system he also brings home lots of indoctrination that we have to try to overcome. And he goes to a very good school. We're glad we don't have to try to overcome some of the terrible things we read about regularly coming out of other public schools.

I'm very proud of what my wife has done to further our son's education. But I wanted to comment on how much I appreciate what you're doing. I think it is the best possible scenario. And I wish we were able to do as you're doing.

Becky K. said...

Thank You, Richard.

I'll keep checking back to see how things progress.

It is a full time job to raise a child...especially one with special challenges.

Becky K.

Kim G said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kim said...

Rita- you are right about documenting for medical reasons also, we have friends that must do this for their parents.
Becky- I admire those who homeschool, it is such a tough job. David has asked a few times to be homeschooled, but then a few minutes later changes his mind. He tells me he wants me to be just his mom. I think he knows homeschooling would change our relationship drastically.

Mrs. Wilt said...

You need to teach a seminar on this- seriously! I wish that every parent of a child with special needs that I taught was as determined and organized as you are. Parents really should be more aware of the services to which their children are entitled.