Tomorrow’s a big day. Or not.
Sophie’s IEP team is meeting, to review her first month of kindergarten.
When we were putting the finishing touches on Sophie’s IEP (Individualized Education Program, the document that prescribes her school situation, from what therapies she gets to where she pees) I insisted we reassemble the team (everyone from principal to teacher to therapists to parents) a month into kindergarten, to see how Sophie was doing.
I could feel some internal eye rolling; IEP’s are a huge pain in the butt, if only for how hard it is to get all those people in the room at the same time. But at the time I signed the IEP, I had real doubts — mainly about Sophie’s safety at a “big kids” school. Why not get together to see how things are going, and make changes if necessary?
OK. It was agreed. When the speech therapist — a lovely woman who’s new to the school, if not the profession — suggested we meet September 11, I bristled. School started August 4th. That’s NOT a month. It’s five weeks. But I kept my mouth shut. I have learned to do that, in such situations. The ballbuster me (gee, wonder where Sophie gets THAT?) has learned to make way for the sweet-as-pie-mother-of-a-special-needs-kid me. Well, sometimes the ballbuster gets in the way. We’ll see tomorrow. But for now, I’ve been fairly sweet, if I do say so myself.
I didn’t say anything about the date, but when the speech therapist then emailed to confirm this would just be a “get to know each other” session, I freaked a little. Um, no, I replied. This is an IEP meeting. There might be changes necessary.
I hear the speech therapist is freaked, too. Apparently she IS rather new, and she’s used to dealing with kids with speech delays, rather than global disabilities. And here it gets a little confusing: Sophie has the “mild retardation” label but her IQ is so high (and yes, I know, IQ tests are bullshit, but hey, better high than low, I always say, to paraphrase Shrek) she doesn’t qualify for services from the special education teacher, who would typically lead the team.
In any case, I am approaching this meeting with trepidation. I already know that I won’t get what I want, which is a parttime aide to keep Sophie safe on the playground and at lunch. And I know (after a conversation with the school psychologist yesterday) that I better brace myself for the advice (yet again) that really, Sophie might be better off in a “pull out” program, the one where the other “special” kids go.
But because of her aforementioned IQ, she doesn’t qualify for that “special” program. She belongs where she is. But she needs to be safe. Between this and Sarah Palin, I really do wonder — AM I ON AN EPISODE OF THE TWILIGHT ZONE???
Part of my coping mechanism — when faced with tough kid challenges and fear of the future of America — is to organize. Well, to try. I’ve already shown you pictures of my playroom, so I can’t pretend. I’ve had the stamp pad out a lot. I figure anything that can go in a Rubbermaid from Target is, somehow, containable and doable. I made a new bin for Sophie’s paperwork — and that’s just the stuff from the last couple months that needs to be filed.
So we’ll have this meeting tomorrow (which will generate even more paper for the SOPHIE PAPER bin) and we’ll talk about a lot of things and I’ll bring up the aide and I’ll get shot down and that will pretty much be that, unless I decide to go all ball buster on them and I really don’t want to do that. I wish I believed in God so I could pray for Sophie’s safety, because at this point that’s my best bet.
And here’s the kicker: My ace in the hole did not pan out. A few weeks ago, I talked to a rather zealous but well-meaning former state legislator, who was horrified Sophie doesn’t get an aide. She insisted that Sophie’s got state dollars attached directly to her, because of her diagnosis, and that I simply need to play that card in the IEP meeting, to tell the group that I know how much extra money they’re getting for Sophie, and that they better spend it on her.
So I made the calls and the preliminary figures are in. I’m double checking, since this sounds so ridiculous even for the painfully backward state of Arizona, but if I’m right, here’s the extra amount of money dedicated to a kid like Sophie (a kid who qualifies as “mildly retarded,” boy I hate that term, I think I hate the word mild even more than the word retarded!), each year of public school:
That won’t even buy my Starbucks for a week.