“You’re not so bad, after all!”

3 May

That’s what Thomas’ teacher said yesterday after our IEP meeting. There wasn’t a whole lot of drama, but there were issues that we managed to work through.

One was the issue of PE. The regular PE teacher described the atmosphere of PE as about 60-70 kids in the gym, doing all sorts of different activities (several groups running at the same time) with different equipment all going at the same time. It was described as organized chaos and extremely loud. Basically I was wondering how anyone could function in an environment like that! The adaptive PE teacher is someone I know very well, and she was there and offered to try to help with modifications. So we postponed an APE referral because he probably wouldn’t qualify anyway.

The input statement went over really well. His case manager really doesn’t work with him at all, so she was really searching for some input for his current level of functioning. This turned out to be a gold mine for her, which wasn’t exactly the intention, but it still served a very important purpose and it will again in the fall.

They had community goals written and I told the case manager that we could just skip those and delete them all. There was nothing in the present level to indicate the need for CBI services. It was just something the 1st grade teacher recommended that she thought would be nice. The CBI teacher was there, and I know her fairly well. I think she got a bit defensive about the fact that I didn’t want him in CBI, but I did smooth it over later when we went ahead and okay’ed resource services for him with her as his resource teacher and case manager. She was basically really wanting and needing some sort of affirmation of her abilities.

I’ve encountered this several times during Thomas’ IEP meetings where the service providers all want to hear something that affirms that they are doing the right thing. I don’t always deliver, and it’s not intentional. I’m not trying to make people feel bad or incompetent; I just deliver the reinforcement to those most deserving at the time. I never thought of the lack of positive feedback as a big negative, but they sometimes take it that way.

Anyway, he will still be getting speech and OT plus an hour/day for resource. This future-resource teacher has been to most of Thomas’ meetings and it wasn’t till the end that I discovered that she really wanted to be his case manager all along. Who knew? I would describe her as experienced and competent, and feel okay with her helping him and the teachers and paras he will be dealing with. She’s had some of the same training that I have in the area of autism and is one of the few in the building that knows anything about it. So I’m hopeful that he can continue to make progress in all areas.

I saw his achievement test results and was like, “YOWZA!” Given the WJ mini-Battery, his reading was in the 5th grade range and his writing was in 4th grade range! His math and factual knowledge was pretty much right on at grade 1.6. So academically, there’s not much reason for the extra support, it’s all the behavioral stuff which I think is common for many individuals with autism. It was certainly the issue for me when I was his age. I didn’t like all the busy work that teachers gave and to me it seemed pointless to keep doing the same exercises over and over. This is why I’m not very good at helping him with his homework because it gets to a point where I sort of see his point: I know he can do this. He knows he can do it. His teachers know he can do it. So what’s the purpose of wasting the time in proving mastery over and over? Let’s just get it over with so we can watch Sponge Bob!

The meeting went well, all things considered, and we actually finished in about 2 hours which is a record for us. I notice a LOT of people are hitting my IEP series as it IS the season for these things. No matter which side of the table you are on, I’m hoping all of your IEPs are stress and drama free.



3 Responses to ““You’re not so bad, after all!””

  1. Erin May 3, 2007 at 3:41 pm #

    I sometimes have a hard time dealing with the things said in my own IEP meetings. It depends on whether the people facilitating the meeting know me well. Fortunately, this year, I’ve had a case manager who really has gotten to know me, and I love her dearly.

    However, now is the time people who like to present postsecondary options and opportunities like to invade my meetings.

    Sometimes, these people make me feel pressured and overwhelmed. Then again, other times, dependent on who they are, they make me overly excited and increase my levels of ambition. This year’s meeting was okay, I just need to get some ducks in a row before college, and right now, I’m thinking I want an undergraduate degree in spec. ed and then go to medical school for pediatric neurology.

    Just wanted to say hello, really.

  2. Andrew Houvouras May 3, 2007 at 6:32 pm #

    I think some parents and behavioral folk should get together and study this PE phenomenon. In theory, I think there are so many implied rules without specific, exact consequences that it leads to confusion and challenging behaviors. That, of course, is a terribly short, inadequate explanation but in my work in our county, PE seems to be an issue across the spectrum.

    Continued best,


  3. Dick May 4, 2007 at 7:00 am #

    Erin, you should be getting to the point where you’re pretty much running your own IEP. That means writing your own input statement which will help teachers get to know who you are, what you like and where you want to go. Think of it as sort of like a blog introduction! You’ll probably excel at anything you try as long as you keep your positive attitude.

    Actually Andrew, when I was doing some research on applied behavioral techniques, some of the best behaviorist articles were written in PE journals by PE majors! These weren’t necessarily geared for students with autism but more on how to effectively deal with the big, wild herds of kids that they often find themselves with. Just like every other area of education, there is a sizable gap between research and practice.


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