My IEP series has yet to include this as this is my very first crack at this abomination. And as a teacher, it is truly an abomination, compared to the good ‘ole days when all you had to do at the very last meeting was look at goal mastery, write some minutes, pat the child on the head and say “C-YA!” In those days, dismissing a child from school and special education was as easy as gravity.
Not so, anymore. From a 1 page breezy narrative, it is now a 5 page millstone. You can look at it/download it here. Ours looks slightly different, but it is just as painful.
The reauthorization of 2004 requires this document in order to facilitate the child’s post-secondary transition and provide some sort of seamlessness with vocational rehab agencies. I have no idea if this is true or not for most students, but I don’t see the usefulness for any of my students. Let’s go through this thing together, shall we? I’m filling this out for the student I have identified in past entries as Spaz who is leaving after over 20 years in the system. I’ve had him for 7 of those years, so for about a third of his life. This should be easy, given our history, right?
Checking off assessments used…
This looks easy enough…check, check, check…
And provide copies of the assessment reports.
Crap. The boy has a folder that takes up an entire file drawer. A lot of the medical stuff is buried very deeply. This is going to be painful, made even moreso by the fact that the copier is clear across the school. Perhaps the Central Eligibility Report will suffice for all of this. Yeah, let them look up all the stuff!
Students desired postsecondary goals. This should take into consideration education, employment and community access.
Spaz is pretty darn sick of school and seems tired of everything else for that matter. He’s tired of going into the community, which he used to love more than anything else. But we need to put something down so I can say that he will pursue a placement in a day-hab/sheltered workshop setting. Also, because of the severity of his disability, paid employment is not a goal.
That last statement is a tough one, but it’s the truth. Even as a greeter at Wal-Mart, his spitting on people is not exactly going to earn him a big paycheck. He bites any materials he works with, and his hands are all in his mouth. At least he’s not biting people, and that’s progress.
Spaz will live with his family as long as possible but group home, respite and other living alternatives will be pursued. And I think those alternatives will be pursued diligently as his mother has endured a lot of hardship over the years with Spaz. I daresay, more hardship than most because Spaz has some extensive needs and some extreme behaviors which will try and test the patience of the best of people at their best. She’s had to endure being with him, who has only needed 10 hours of sleep per week, and his waking hours seem to be spent bent on destruction. He breaks things, chews on things, picks at things and generally raises havoc. Curtains, window blinds, windows, walls, electrical outlets, appliances, fixtures…nothing is immune once he fixes upon it without constant supervision. And try keeping your temper on less than 2 hours of sleep every single night.
Academic area: Reading
Well, if I had to pick his brightest spot, this might be it. Spaz can read a few sight words (Walk, don’t walk, go, in, out) but he’s not reading extensively beyond the pre-k level. His functioning according to an adaptive behavior questionnaire is less than a 2 year-old level. He might read at a 3 or 4 year-old level. They want accommodations and assistive technology, but there’s not a lot to offer as far as his reading.
He can almost count to 15, and does so failry clearly with his own voice. Otherwise he uses an AAC device with supervision. Again, he is functioning at a 3-4 year-old level, tops.
Spaz has been working on writing his name for several years and can almost write “Spaz” legibly, but he does bite the pencil, pen and/or paper that he is writing on/with. Which means that writing is not very functional at all for him as he will destroy/eat whatever he is writing on/with. This includes a computer mouse or keyboard.
Learning Skills (Class participation, Note taking, Keyboarding, Organization, Test taking, Study skills)
He participated in class using his AAC device, answering orally or by pointing to people and pictures.
In every one of these areas, they want to no the accommodations, the date and an accommodations rationale. The rationale is the same every time for Spaz: He has a severe intellectual disability and his skills are negligible to nonexistent! That’s the assessment report’s words, not mine. But they have the virtue of being true. And depressing.
Social Skills and Behavior
This area is even more depressing, as he has a laundry list of all sorts of behaviors that have came, went, and returned again over the years. Why on earth am I required to fill this out? How can a parent read this, if it is a truly honest account, and NOT be reduced to tears?
Self Determination/Self Advocacy Skills
On and on and on and on this thing goes! And that is only page 3. The accommodation for my student is basically the same: 1:1 adult assistance pretty much every time, and the rationale is that Spaz has a severe intellectual disability, and is functioning at less than a 2 year-old level. What else do you want me to say?
And then I get to summarize all of this to recommend postsecondary outcomes, which for him will require 1:1 supervision and support at all times. As a teacher, this is totally demoralizing. Yeah, I know he’s got a severe disability, but the outcome of 7 years of instruction should have come to more than this. No wonder most teachers quit before they see the results of all their work. It’s too depressing to contemplate.
The next section is even more depressing as if that were possible. It’s the student perspective. I’m somehow supposed to interview Spaz and ask him:
How does your disability affect your schoolwork and school activities? (Think about grades, relationships, assignments, tests, communication, extra-curricular activities.):
In the past, what supports have been tried by teachers to assist you in being successful in school?:
Which of these accommodations and supports worked best for you? Why did they work?:
D. What strengths should others know about you as you begin college or work?:
E.What has been most difficult for you in school?
As if Spaz is going to answer any of these!
What a load of rubbish.
And then we’re supposed to provide a list of contact information for service providers that parents may contact. And I know for a fact that our county has precious few, if any of these numbers. In fact, they had training material for filling out the forms and they used people at the board office as examples for each of those contacts for High School Team, Health and Family Services, Employment Agency, Community Agency, Institute of Higher Education as well as other agencies. I’ll be writing them to see if I can use their info! As it is, I know of no such database in the county, much less the county office of such agencies. It’s as if they all have some sort of stealth technology to keep people from being informed. I am NOT looking forward to going through this mess as a parent. I also appreciate the parents who are doing it right now and blazing the trail for the rest of us.
This thing is painful to the max, emotionally as well as in the sheer scope of all the stuff they want. It’s the caseworker who has to fill all this horse manure out and it really stinks.
Thank you for listening, even if it was not as helpful as other entries about IEPs. Maybe I’ll come up with a better informed follow-up or perhaps some of you can help me out