Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Family Planning

Ha, I bet you thought this post was going to be about having babies huh? Well, I'm feeling pretty good about sharing personal stuff on this blog but I'm not about to get into THAT conversation.

Anyway, the title really references the IEP (Individualized Education Program, for those not "in the know") meeting that Chris and I attended yesterday. I was struck, yet again, by how incredibly fortunate we have been in our experiences with these meetings thus far. When we moved to Minnesota we selected the exact neighborhood we wanted to buy in based on the school district zones; the Hopkins school district is known for its excellent special education services.

And while it's not perfect - because nothing ever is, overall I have been very, very happy with Pacey's educational experience so far. Last year he attended a designated special education preschool which was a good fit for him at the time. Small class size, lots of one-on-one time, and the class spent two days a week integrating with a daycare program of same-aged peers and the classes were co-taught. It was a great year for him. This year he is attended a mainstream pre-K class within the school district (the way it works here is that they offer preschool for a subsidized tuition, which we don't pay as it encompasses his services). The IEP meeting was a chance to see how he has been doing in that classroom as well as set our goals for the following year.

I don't need to tediously document what we spoke about here, but there was a lot of positive feedback. It was a great chance to see that we are all on the same page as far as making sure Pacey is having a positive and productive experience in the classroom and that he will be as prepared for kindergarten as he can be. I feel like we are given a lot of opportunity to give our input as far as what we would like to see for goals...this was weird and kind of intimidating at our first couple of IEP meetings because I really had no idea what I wanted those goals to look like. I do have a better idea now, and our team also encouraged us to make an appointment to go see our local kindergarten school now, so that we will see what sort of things he will need to be prepared for next fall. I loved that idea...I know there will be transition meetings in the spring set up by the district, but by then the current class has almost finished kindergarten and thus the expectations will be very different.

Anyway, I have heard many difficult stories about the IEP process for other parents of children with Ds, and - even more challenging sometimes - parents advocating for their kids who have less defined delays and difficulties. So I don't write about our positive experience lightly, and I truly do not take it for granted.

I've been fortunate in that I feel like I have always had a team of people working with us and with Pacey that seek out our input and want to see him succeed to the best of his potential. I'm looking forward to making an appointment with the folks that will join our team next year and see Pacey through his elementary school years. Onward and upward!

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