Monday, September 12, 2011

The IEP Journey

One thing that my family has always enjoyed doing is going for drives. When the weather is pretty and we have some free time, we pick a direction and drive.  Windows down, no radio, and usually lots of off the wall conversation.  Some drives take us to neat little towns where we find hole-in-the-wall restaurants or quirky hardware stores that we’d otherwise never known were there. Other drives lead us nowhere; nothing all that amazing discovered but most definitely not wasted time either. And then there are the unexpected drives, otherwise known as getting lost. You know the drill: you drive until you realize that you aren’t where you anticipated and then you turn around and hope desperately to find your way back all the while watching the clock because inevitably you have someplace to be. 

The kids started back to school last week.  As always I was a worried mama on the first day worried about new friends, old friends, new routines, old routines, and so on. The first day was an awesome drive; Caden’s teacher texted us a picture of Caden helping a new child learn one of the classroom activities. How awesome and unexpected was that journey? Ryley came home declaring that this is the year that she is going to love school and kept talking about how the four 6th graders got to sit together because well, they are the 6th graders after all. That’s a pretty amazing drive as well.

Then days two and three brought the realization that now that Caden is in kindergarten, we need to revisit the IEP and establish more educational goals. Some of that trip is familiar territory; we know we’ll need speech and occupational therapy.  He loves numbers and logical activities but letters and reading continue to escape us. He can write his name but only because he knows those 5 shapes make his name, not that they are the letters of his name. It felt like a fork in the road; our sunny drive had left us most undoubtedly lost.   The realization that he could only recognize 2 cursive letters during assessment testing confirmed our belief that our road trip had taken us to an otherwise deserted town where we weren’t going to find anyone who could give us directions home and most definitely our gps couldn’t help us out.

The thing about not knowing where you are is that you never know what’s around the next corner. We were lost, didn’t know where to go, and it only made sense to keep driving because what else could we really do. Caden’s teacher decided to test him on printed letters and all of a sudden we were in an amazing town with a year round carnival and all the cotton candy you could eat; Caden identified 11 letters correctly.  This was crucial information to write into the IEP and all of a sudden the GPS picked up a signal and we were on our way home with the windows rolled down and the sun shining.  It’s interesting how when you leave home in the morning, you never quite know where the day will take you.