What I Didn’t Say

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Last Wednesday night I went back to a place that was a home for Johnny.  A safe zone if you will and the first place that truly understood him and helped him move foreward.  As I walked through the front doors of Johnny’s Developmental Preschool,  I saw familiar faces but I didn’t feel like the same woman that I did 2 years ago,  the last time I had been there.   So much has happened in our lives and I am now stronger and more confident as a parent and a warrior mom as my friend likes to affectionately call it.

*Developmental Preschool ~ http://wp.me/p1KVmo-g

*Last day at Developmental Preschool ~ http://wp.me/p1KVmo-mf

I was asked to participate in a parents panel regarding transitioning to kindergarten and sharing Johnny’s story.  See here: http://wp.me/p1KVmo-1xT

I watched as parents trickled in to find seats and suddenly I could feel my own nervousness fade away as I saw the anxiety and worry in parents faces.  I remember feeling that way 2 years ago.   Is there really going to be that many people attending to hear parent stories?  I haven’t spoken in front of a large group of people like this and answer questions since I was in University.  Does it help them if I share stories about how horrible the IPRC (Individual Placement Review Committee) meeting was with the public school board? Do I tell them stories of when it was hard when kindergarten teachers were not listening to our point of view and how that manifests itself into challenging misunderstood behaviours?  I went back and read through posts from that time but wasn’t sure if that’s what I wanted Johnny’s story to be about.

What can I say to make the parents feel strong, feisty and as determined as we are as parents advocating for our son’s needs?

I decided to take a deep breathe, stand up with a big smile on my face and hold up an 8×10 picture of a smiling Johnny and introduce him.  I decided to tell them what they hope to hear and the truth.

“As you can see here in the picture, he is happy.”

Then I told them why Johnny is happy at school.

The following are the goals that we set out to form the frame work of Johnny’s IEP (Individual Education Plan.)

1)  Better Communicator

  • Address the communication piece
  • Apraxa – motor speech
  • increase SLP visits
  • OT Supports

2) Better Peer Relationships

  • Social Stories
  • role playing, turn taking, game playing
  • coaching
  • OT Support and SLP

3) Better Self Esteem

  • ABA
  • Recognize Johnny’s Cognitive strengths
  • Participate with peers
  • OT support

4) Risk Taker

  • Courage to try without fear of making mistakes
  • Work Towards Independence

Thank you to Johnny’s Developmental Preschool for allowing me to share my insights and listen to parents concerns and try and give some support.

*The bouquet was from Johnny’s Developmental Preschool 🙂

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. We just found out that a local school is eliminating its autism program next year. We were hoping that we be an option for Philip since he will be entering kindergarten in the fall. It looks like we have only one option: our home district. Philip’s preschool teacher says that other districts are reluctant to accept students on IEPs as part of open enrollment.

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    1. Cyn says:

      Wow! Very frustrating indeed for you as you prepare to help Phillip take the next step. That is really too bad that they are cancelling the Autism program. Reluctant? Under your state law and federal law, can districts deny placement because of an IEP? It’s probably about resources and money….sadly it always is. Where we live in Canada, we had 2 options….2 public boards and one offered inclusion and integration as much as possible while the other only offered special ed classes. I am going to write more about how kindergarten looked for “Johnny” and how it looks now in Grade 1. Different placements but it’s working. My advice is really investigate what your rights as parents are….what Phillip’s rights are, figure out the accommodations he needs to succeed and if need be….be ready to fight. IEP’s are solid legal documents in the USA and that’s another reason why school districts get reluctant. Here…..they are guidelines and are considered a fluid open document. Feel free to ask any questions that you may have and good luck.

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