Notes from the Journey to Ithaca

We decided that having Beanie is not like living in Holland. Parenting her is our journey to Ithaca, and the Bean is currently hauling along on a broad reach…

On Friday, I went to her IEP meeting. I figured that this year’s would be relatively simple, since we’ve decided to keep her in preschool for another year. If the truth be told, I’m terrified of kindergarten and what her school day will look like. I don’t want her pulled out and placed on a lower track academically. Yet I worry about her in the classroom, due to her delays. She seems so much younger, so much tinier than the other kids. Also, as a middle school special education teacher, I know all about the state’s new graduation requirements, which will be very difficult for her to meet, if she doesn’t have a good foundation.

So I went to the meeting, with this in the back of my mind.

There we sat: Beanie’s Head Start teacher, her special education teacher, her physical therapist, her Head Start teaching assistant, and me–all of us, in preschooler-sized chairs around a little table with a picture of an alligator in the middle. I had not met this physical therapist before, so I introduced myself. She told me her name and said, “Actually, the Bean doesn’t need to see me for direct services anymore, so I’m going to recommend putting me on consult. She can do everything the other kids do, as far as large motor skills are concerned.”

That’s how it began, and that’s how it continued. One by one, by fears were dissolved.

IEP’s always begin with a discussion of the kid’s strengths. Last year, everyone had just met the Bean, so they needed my input for this. This year, they said her most obvious strength is her intelligence. She knows all of her letters, in upper and lowercase, and the sounds. She has a few sight words. She can count to 25 consistently. In many ways, she is ahead of where a 4-year-old needs to be. She will probably be reading and adding when she begins kindergarten. The academics–even with the crazy standards that we now have to follow–will not be a problem for her at all.

Her challenge is that she has behaviors and social skills deficits, and they are all due to her sensory issues and language delay. She is not defiant or aggressive. But she struggles with following directions, because she does not understand what she is expected to do. She does not like to sit down for long periods of time (in preschool, that means 5 minutes or so). She has trouble answering “yes” or “no” and doesn’t talk much when she is playing with other kids.

So, yes, she still has quite a bit to work on. But, put in that context, it definitely is not insurmountable. She’ll probably need some accommodations in kindergarten, but it will be do-able.

Once again, I’m a proud mommy.

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