The IEP Rollercoaster

It’s been 9 months since the journey began to request county services for my littlest guy.  After assessments, waiting, and many, many, many meetings (with all four children in tow every time) to change and tweak his IEP, confirmation just arrived in the mail that he was exited from services.  Before he ever even started.  It’s been an interesting ride.

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When he was originally assessed before we moved and changed counties in October 2015, the Child Find team did their very best to design an IEP that would support his needs.  A hearing impairment plus three years in a neglectful orphanage equals uniquely significant language concerns.  Those special needs are difficult individually, but both of them together present bigger learning challenges.  Then factor in some developmental delays and difficulty understanding English – all of that makes for an interesting combination.  The team wrote his IEP to include 5 half-days in a hearing impaired preschool, in addition to 3 weekly speech sessions.  It was a lot and I wasn’t comfortable with so many school hours, but I felt confident about the services supporting his needs.  Unfortunately we moved right after the IEP was written, so my little guy was never serviced in the old county.

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When I met with the new county’s Child Find team, I found out that there was no hearing impaired preschool available.  The only classroom available for him was the special needs preschool, which was a 30 minute drive for us.  The county was only willing to give him 2 days a week there because, given the needs of the other children in the class, they didn’t feel that more would be beneficial.  This also knocked down his speech therapy sessions to two per week.  Frustration started to build for me, especially because we had been trying for months to get him started.  I visited the classroom before beginning services and quickly concluded that it simply was not going to meet his needs.  Although the program was wonderful, it was servicing children with different and, in some cases, far greater non-verbal special needs.  The speech sessions were also always in groups of 8+ children, a situation that absolutely would not meet his unique vocabulary and articulation needs.

We gave a lot of consideration to having his speech sessions services at our local school, but I became more and more concerned that he wasn’t going to make enough progress with only two sessions a week and no other intervention.  His IEP goals were originally written for 10+ hours of classroom and speech services, something that the new county was unable to provide.  And given my recent conversations with the speech/language pathologist who would be servicing his IEP, I knew it was time to withdrawal him from services.  This wasn’t a decision that was made lightly, but we just didn’t feel that county services would set him up for success as much as possible.  So here we are, 9 months later, exactly where we started.

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Fortunately with more concentrated and intense vocabulary work at home, he’s making more progress. I wrongly assumed he’d “just catch up,” like some children do after being adopted. This was difficult to discern though, given the hearing impairment and his time in the orphanage. But we’ve slowly realized that he has to work so much harder to retain new vocabulary. It stinks that he has this challenge on top of everything else he’s already faced, but we know he’s up for it! He’s always ready to joyfully combat any new task, and this is no exception. He’s very responsive to the extra help at home, and is so very eager to learn! So we are pressing forward with the plan to seek out a private therapist who will truly be able to meet his unique needs.

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  • April 16, 2016 - 6:59 pm

    Shana Smith - Are you going to enroll Ben in any type of private speech therapy?ReplyCancel

    • April 16, 2016 - 9:40 pm

      Nicole Renée - Yes, that is the plan! Though we may wait a few months to try to find the right SLP and then start at the beginning of the new school year, since this one is almost finished.ReplyCancel

  • April 16, 2016 - 10:04 pm

    Kat - I am an occupational therapist and although I do not work with pediatrics, I have a lot of OT friends who are all too familiar with the IEP. It saddens me that children who desperately need therapy services are unable to access them for various reasons. I hope you are able to find the best SLP for your son. Therapy is soooooo important early on. Good luck!!! and btw, he is absolutely adorable!!! His face just melts my heart.ReplyCancel

    • April 17, 2016 - 9:19 am

      Nicole Renée - It is very frustrating from the parent’s perspective as well. The bureaucracy of the system just made the whole process longer also, but at least we finally have a resolution and can move forward. Thanks for your kind message!ReplyCancel

  • April 19, 2016 - 10:10 am

    Libbe - First, your little guy is adorable! I do think he is beginning to look a little older! I am so sorry your county is unable to meet his needs. How frustrating! Our little guy just turned 3 and started services with our school district. Although they are putting him on the summer speech therapy list, it is minimal, so I have a feeling we will need to seek out private speech therapy as well.ReplyCancel

    • April 20, 2016 - 8:04 am

      Nicole Renée - I’m so sorry you’re also experiencing similar issues, it can be so frustrating. I do wish they could help us to help our children in a more efficient way. Blessings to your family on your journey!ReplyCancel

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