Thursday, May 22, 2008

What is wrong here . . .

Yesterday I had Dustin's annual case conference for next year's IEP (Individualized Education Plan). He will be in 8th grade. Dustin is placed in an inclusive Moderately Handicapped Functional Classroom due to his IQ of 51. For that we are thankful. His FAS (FetaL Alcohol Syndrome) has caused much havoc in the classroom setting therefore he has his own 1:1 paraprofessional during his modified schedule of 10:00am to 2:00pm.

Last spring he was endanger of being put on home-based schooling due to excessive and dangerous aggressive behaviors that included hitting, spitting, choking, fit throwing, running away and attempting to choke his teacher with a television cord. We were stressed beyond belief and frustrated at the systems inability to offer my child an appropriate and free education on his level and dealing with his issues. We fought for and won that external brain . . . a 1:1 aide that we knew he needed. At that time he was only attending school 2 hours a day and was in a separate classroom alone. Since then he has steadily made progress, begun to read minimally, excels on his spelling tests, can work in the room with other children and attend small group times. He can tell you the basic holidays and which month they take place in. He can count money, use a calculator and can tell time to the minute. He can also write his name in cursive in order to sign a check. He has gained the privilege of attending art classes and gym class and even eats lunch with his peers, all with the help of his aide. He has made amazing progress.

I think I have PTSD. Even though I know he is doing very well in school, I cannot hear the word IEP and not get sweaty and panicky. If the phone rings at work and I see the school's name on the caller ID I get all stressed. I just know that he has done something unforgivable at school. Thankfully those calls lately have been reminders about meetings and even a call to tell me how well he is doing! Yet, the old self kicks in and the fear begins. The IEP meeting yesterday was just plain weird! I sat in an administrative office with his teacher of record and the corporation's middle school special education director and listened to them tell me what a joy Dustin is in class. I heard about all the progress, all the pleasant things he does for his peers, and all the kindness he shows to the teachers. I heard wonderful things from his aide that made me tear up. I am soooo not used to tearing up for joy! What a strange meeting!

I am thrilled he is holding it together at school. We are have MUCH difficulty at home, but honestly, I'd rather he took advantage of us and behaved in school any day! I must remember how far we have come and know there is much more success up ahead for him.


Torina said...

It is truly amazing what having a one on one aide can do for our kids, isn't it? I hear you on the PTSD. I used to DREAD going home because I knew that Tara was going to melt down after having a stressful day...which was EVERY day without an aide. I'm glad things are going so much better for you and Dustin!

Janie said...


I so appreciate your honesty. I am the parent of Middle School Special Ed. Student as well. I dread all of the things you dread and even walked out of her IEP meeting crying. It is such a battle sometimes. I am glad you fought for what you KNOW is right for Dustin. Your one-on-one aid will wear a special crown in heaven for all of the great things she does at school. As will you...for being the parent of a special needs child.

Fr. Fozy Bear said...

I am crying right along with you


BTW not to stroke his ego to much but give Dustin a high five and tell him it came from me.

Blessings and Peace

FAScinated said...

I have the same PTSD and the same joy now that Ben is having the same kind of good experiences at school that Dustin is! Thanks for writing this today, it gave me a smile. High five to Dustin...and to you!! ~Kari

Jo said...

What a great mom you are to have fought for what your boy needed. It is wonderful to hear the progress he has made. Interesting, he and Little Man have the same IQ, so reading what he is doing gives me some hope for my boy! Thanks!