Early Intervention Report Card

Well, nothing brings your vacation to a screeching halt like coming home to your kid’s report card. I think that maybe parents who’ve been on vacation need some sort of reentry procedure. Only instead of electrodes behind the ears I’m thinking a bubble bath, soothing music, and a big glass of wine.

But no.

pumpkin patch

I arrived home and discovered that Charlie’s report card had appeared while I was away. Yeah, my three-year-old has a report card and the truth is, it’s not pretty. It doesn’t have grades on it, but letters to represent completion, progress, or no progress.

Charlie had row after row of “not progressing.”


pumpkin stand

It was tough. I’m not going to lie. I was never an over-achiever, but it was a rare day when a C appeared on my report card. Getting one full of “F’s” is far from my area of expertise. Truthfully, a report card full of B’s isn’t even my area. I never struggled in school.

So, after I picked up my ego off the floor and dusted it off, I looked over the paper of doom again. I looked very specifically at the our goals.

I think, maybe, we’re too broad. Some are just way off. I mean, one of the goals is that he’ll count to five. Since he can’t speak, I don’t think he’ll be counting five any time soon.

So, yeah, we’re going to take that one off. I’d like to keep the goals about recognizing colors and body parts, but maybe lower his accuracy rate. This is a kid who HATES to be quizzed too much, so you’re lucky if you get a couple of right answers out of him. I, personally, have seen marked improvement in his identification of eye, nose, and mouth, so something’s getting through.

I’ve also seen improvement in social interaction in both private and public areas. He responds more quickly to his name and engages strangers even. He’s drinking better than ever–and I don’t mean the amount, I mean the way he drinks–less pouring water in his mouth and more slurping/sucking.

serious pumpkin face

I think what I’m seeing is that he’s improving in the areas that are most important to me–social interaction, group dynamics, expressing needs, and other social cues. It wasn’t the best report card.  I knew it was possible we would be here–knew we would face some getting to know you. The Charlie path has never been straight–we’d make a horrible movie of the week with no gorgeous perfect ending or storybook finale.  Stings at first, but now I’m back on track and I’m going to make sure I’m supporting school activities at home. I believe he’s learning, but these things take time to show.  Nothing with Charlie has ever been quick or easy, but we’re getting there.

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  1. This is a marathon, mom, not a sprint! I think both you and Charlie are doing really well! Look how far he has come since he was born! Take these things in stride, and even though they mean well, they don’t know Charlie the same way that you do!

    And the pictures are gorgeous!

  2. Thanks for being honest! I get so discouraged with Henry’s progress. It’s good to know that I’m not the only one to struggle with this!

  3. I love reading your blog because it gives me the parent side that I don’t always see. So now when I fill out that progress report area I have an idea of what the person who reads it might be thinking and its worth all the time spent trying to be as positive as I can.
    Oh and I love the pumpkin patch pictures Charlie is so so cute! Report cards will get better and I know especially with 3 year olds I have written goals that they accomplish in a month or two(instead of a year) or goals that take a year or more because you never know how they will do in school and what they will let you see that they have learned!

    • Beth,

      Charlie’s teacher was super-sweet and wrote a list of areas where she is seeing improvement–even if they aren’t on his specific goal list. I really appreciated that and it made me feel a LOT better.

  4. I read an interesting book recently (on failing successfully) and I just thought that such a lot of it was applicable to kids with special needs – but especially their parents. A parent’s attitude more than anything else on earth is what shapes his/her child. Katy I really think your attitude is superb. I know that it isn’t always easy though. Anyhow, bear with me while I tell you a bit more about the book :-)

    Entrepreneurs apparently fail an average of 3.8 times before becoming successful. The difference between people who succeed eventually and those who fail permanently is that achievers never accept rejection, never think of failure as anything but temporary or as isolated cases, keep their expectations realistic, focus on their strengths and never ever give up.

    The only way we learn is through failing at first. Interesting story from the book: A pottery class was divided into two groups. One group received marks on quantity – the more pots they made, the more marks. The other group needed to make only one pot – but it had to be high quality. When the work was handed in, the group who were judged on quantity also made the best pots whereas the group who handed in only one, handed in work of a far inferior quality. It seems that because the quantity group were free to make mistakes, they could experiment, practice and eventually come up with the best work.

    • I like the way you think! Although I’m of course tempted to ask if you’re telling me to have a couple more kids–have enough and probably one will get a decent report card, right?

      But seriously, I really do believe that Charlie is learning–it’s the testing that’s difficult. I’ll keep doing my thing, though, and hopefully it will all come together at some point.

      • Oh, of course if you want to, you can have as many as you like. I would strongly advise you not to try and have 0.8 of a kid, though. You might only get the bit with the nappy on and little legs that run away when you need to change that nappy. 😆

        Seriously: I know things will come together for you and Charlie and report cards.

  5. Report card? Has he been in school long enough to get one already?!! Time is flying I guess. It might not the kind a teacher would formally record on paper, but I have no doubt that Charlie is making progress.

  6. I can totally relate. I was the overachiever who was completely disappointed in myself if I got anything less than an A in school. Enter one child with Down syndrome. I’ve realized it isn’t about WHEN Emmaline accomplishes things, but THAT she is accomplishing things. She continues to amaze us with what she knows, despite her lack of words.

    She doesn’t like to be quizzed either. We have a preschool teacher from our local school system that comes to the house 1 x/week for an hour to work with her. The teacher will ask Emmaline to identify something. I’ll watch Emmy look directly at the object she is supposed to choose and then deliberately pick a wrong one just to see how we will react…so stubborn!

    From what I’ve read, you are doing a great job with Charlie. He’ll get there eventually, just at his own pace. I love reading updates about his progress!

  7. If you want to change his goals, consider keeping the same accuracy level, but build more cueing into the goal….like will point to 5 body parts with 2 verbal cues. Then, you can fade the cues with time.

    I love reading your blog. Thanks for being an honest parent perspective.

  8. Veronica Munoz says:

    First off, I want to congratulate you on this blog. It is truly amazing and bringing awareness to parents of children with special needs. =)

    Second, as a former early childhood special education preschool teacher, I urge you to remember that Charlie has only been in school for about 2 months and it’s extremely rare for children to show extreme progress this soon! Remember, Charlie has probably spent these first few months getting used to his new environment, teachers, and friends!!

    Lastly, I think YOU are right on about “tweeking” some of this goals. We used to make very specific, small increment type goals with various rates of accuracy! For example, maybe he can focus on recognizing 3 body parts for now, then when that’s mastered, the goal can be revised to add 3 more body parts!! Anyhow, YOU and CHARLIE are doing amazing and I applaud you for all of the heroic work done for you son and other children with special needs! =) God bless you!

    • Veronica Munoz says:

      * sorry about spelling/grammar errors* hehehe =)

      • No judgement on typos here!

        You are right about the time frame–Hubby was real clear with me about that. He said, “I’m not at all surprised that it’s taken them nine weeks to get a feel for him. He’s a tough nut to crack.” Yeah, I just get a little over-excited about this stuff.

  9. Hang in there, Katy… Stephen’s first report card (after he’d been in school for FIVE months) showed almost no progress either. It’s… humbling, to say the least. But I see a TON of progress, and every day now, his teacher is telling me about the progress SHE sees. Most of the time, it’s not something that can be quantified by one of his goals (for example, today she was telling me that he is TRYING at things for longer periods of time before giving up).

    Like one person just said, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. The paperwork is necessary for the schools, but trust that the therapists are seeing progress too. They just can’t always quantify it within the framework of the IEP, KWIM?

    Charlie is just darling in these photos!!

    • Yes, yes, and I think we’re getting there. They’re telling me things that they see–it’s just not a “goal thing,” and as you’re pointing out–some things are even more important than those goals.

  10. Katy,
    As a special ed teacher, currently teaching preschoolers with multiple needs, I would have to say those goals must not be appropriate for Charlie. Also, he shouldn’t be being tested, as such, data should be taken through out the term so that you get a better picture of what he is really learning. It’s pretty impossible to get an accurate picture with just one “test”.

    • Yes, his teacher is really great and we’re going to collaborate on some new goals.

      Interesting what you say about testing and a good point. He is still very little and I would never think to “test” a three-year-old and yet here I am, testing mine. Ack!

  11. great idea to revise the goals. And from what you wrote, they do sound too broad. But I think it’s good to think big, then scale down if needed, rather than assume he “can’t” and keep expectations low.

  12. We got ours last week too, with essentially Bennett not meeting the goals for the most part. But my wife and I also had just watched Bennett have the flu, we both got it, also then accidentally watched ‘The Road’ while we were both sick and the Ravens lost a heartbreaker on Sunday.

    We haven’t been able to get to the positive bounceback that you have yet. :)

    • I think we need to all Just Say No to The Road–started reading that while pregnant with Charlie and it was way too much for my pregnant hormones. These days I just think life’s too short to be depressed over imaginary stuff–give me smiling, happy RomComs and ridiculous Capers.

  13. We never go report cards, but he got progress reports throughout preschool, and they always sucked.

    Yeah, revising goals is a good idea…

  14. Ouch! Nothing like being punched in the gut when you get back from vacation! I love your attitude about things. I want to be like you when I grow up!

  15. Since nothing is quick and easy, it’s that much more worth it when it happens! :)

  16. The first year Luke was in pre-school he was in a class of 6-typicals, 6-IEP’s. His progress report and teacher conference showed that he was doing great. Then I went to the end-of-the-year “graduation”. I was devistated, Luke was obviously WAY out of his league. I couldn’t even figure out who the other 5 IEP-kids were.

    His 2nd and 3rd year in preschool (he was blessed with an Oct b-day) he was in the intense language (i.e. autism) class. Each quarter we would have a conference (not an IEP meeting) were we would talk about all the great things Luke was doing at school and home. We also covered where the struggles were. It was at the yearly IEP meetings were we had to talk defecits – mainly if you aren’t lacking then you don’t qualify for services.

    Now in elementary school the report cards are worthless — he gets all 2’s for meeting modified expectations. The IEP reports are only as good as the teacher/theripist who writes the comments. The good information always comes from the meetings.

    For me, the REALLY hard part is the every 3 year evaluations. We just met last week to decide what evaluations he would have. Due to behaviors related to needing new PE tubes they won’t start until first of Nov. I then won’t have to read/hear the evals until end of Jan. This is where I will find out where Luke stands in relation to the “typicals”

  17. Aw, so hard! :( I love how you know your son well enough to know how he’s truly progressing, though, in spite of some ‘report card’! And I love how you know what’s truly important for him to learn & grow in, too!

  18. Hi. I can totally relate, Max’s last report card was dismal—EVEN THOUGH he has made really admirable progress these last few months.

    I’ll tell you what bothers me most about these report cards: That they are not accompanied by any discussion with the school. You see a string of No Progress or Limited Progress, and hardly any Goal Achieved, and you are just sitting in your home and your heart is hitting the floor and man, does it feel bad.

    So, I know how you felt. I get those feelings. But they pass quickly because, like our neurologist told us long ago, “Look at how Max is doing‚ don’t look at the reports.” And, like you said, it’s good that he is making gains in the areas most important to you. The rest will come, on Charlie’s own timeline.

    The pumpkin photos of him are delicious.

  19. It is exhausting and heart wrenching – but you are doing the right thing by seeking the positives. No matter how small the positive steps forward, they are still steps forward. I have to tell myself that each day when I get my son’s daily home sheet from school. As much as I wish we didn’t have to deal with this stuff, I look for the positive and pray.

  20. I just want to point out that in my opinion EIP progress reports are an indication of whether the program is succeeding, not whether the student is. Either the goals aren’t appropriate, or the instruction hasn’t been individualized enough, or the assessment methods aren’t accurate enough. In whatever case, no progress is not an indication that Charlie is “failing” – he is doing what he is able to do within that environment. EIP is about meeting the child where they’re at and helping them make gains to be more independent as they continue their schooling. I’m glad you’re re-evaluating goals. That is a good first step. Truly individualizing the instruction and support is next. Appropriate assessments will fall out of those first two steps.
    Even in our excellent schools within an excellent district I have to push to move away from the cookie cutter “autism” programs that our school staff want to apply to my daughter. I try to help them see the very specific to her steps that will help her most succeed. It is a lot of work for all of us, but it seems to be paying off big time.