In case you are too busy to read to the very end of this story, I’ll give you the moral up front: talk, talk, talk to the people who are in charge of your kid.
Just kidding–you didn’t think I was going to let you off that easy, didja?
So here’s what happened:
Two days before Charlie’s IEP, I stopped by his class–I can’t even remember why–and his teacher sat me down and just asked me what I wanted the most for Charlie. I told her all about how I wanted him to be in classes with typical students more often. I told her that that was probably teh most important thing of all. She listened to me and we talked some more the next day.
We showed up for the IEP and the principal was there, a representative from special education, and the usual cast and crew (teacher, therapists, etc.). I’m always really impressed by how many people come to the IEPs. I actually taught special ed for a few years and I NEVER saw that kind of attendance at an IEP. Usually it was just me and maybe one or two other people. This is not the point of this story, though! The point: Charlie’s IEP–after a lot of discussion about goals, the principal presented us with the following, very special, she-obviously-got-really-creative solution for my Charlie.
Here’s what we’re doing: We’re holding Charlie back and he’s going to do another year in Early Intervention Preschool. For reasons I don’t completely understand, this is NEVER done, but they’re are opting to do it because of my intense desire to see Charlie spend time with his typical peers. The past three years he’s been in a self-contained class most of the day with about fifteen minutes in a regular class. Next year he will be enrolled full-time in a “combo class.” This is a class where half the students are typical and the other half are special education students. How cool is that? He’s also going to do morning routine in a class called “transitional first,” which is a class for kids who are old enough for first grade, but who are mature enough. In the afternoons, we will still give Charlie the option of going back to the self-contained class for rest or a nap since he does still get very worn out by the school day routine.
Basically, I’m getting everything I wanted. We will still have to find a place for him for actual first grade, but I think that doing next year this way will open up a lot more opportunities for him.
All this because I said exactly what I wanted. And his teacher moved the earth to get it for us. We are so blessed.