My first IEP meeting for Sophie was in April just weeks before Sophie turned three. After meeting the case manager and psychologist at the initial evaluation I was expecting a very smooth transition into the school system. Although we were already planning our move out-of-state it was important that her IEP be in place before we left. The meeting was HORRIBLE, you can catch up here My first IEP = Anger. They were completely unprofessional and refused to get evaluations for OT and PT even after they agreed Sophie’s delays in those areas were significant; their excuse was that she was getting them privately and that if she was in a school setting she would qualify for more. What they basically told me was that because my daughter was too sick to be in a school setting she was going to get screwed with services. They had weeks to prepare even after re-scheduling the IEP meeting so they could better prepare they were completely unprepared. I trusted their word that they had my daughter’s best interest at heart but I was wrong.
When I contacted the Exceptional Children’s program with the school board here in North Carolina I expressed my disappointment and frustration with my experience in Florida and I asked that they please re-evaluate Sophie before a new IEP was created. We had our initial meeting towards the end of the summer and I was very pleased overall. They were interested in getting to know Sophie and very thorough with her medical and developmental history. It took several weeks before all of the evaluations were scheduled but in the meantime the FL IEP was active and Sophie was receiving services.
We had our IEP meeting just over a week ago and it was a full house. It was held in my home, the team is respectful with the fact that Sophie cannot be in a school setting and found it in our best interest to come to us. The whole team was in attendance; the OT, PT, ST, Hearing Impaired teacher, Special Instruction teacher and the head of the Exceptional children’s program. We sat in the living room, some of us on the carpet others on the sofa, it was a very casual and comfortable setting. They took time to ask me what my personal outlook and goals were for Sophie’s development and then they each talked about what they saw in her evaluations and read me all of their short and long-term goals. I have to say it really is great when you have a team that works together for the benefit of your child.
In FL all Sophie would receive through her IEP was 120 min of special instruction and 60 min of ST. Amazing isn’t it that a child with severe developmental disability would get such minimal services all because they are too sick to attend a school facility. Makes my stomach turn just thinking about it, very sad!
In NC our new IEP is not only very detailed but she will be getting all the services she qualifies for regardless as to whether she also receives it privately. Our NC IEP contains the following services weekly; special instruction (pre-school teacher) 3×45 min, speech therapy 2x60minutes, OT 1×30 min, PT 1x30min and hearing impaired 1×30 minutes. I was very happy with the overall outcome. It’s not just that she will receive more it’s the way those teachers and therapists interact with her and really work hard toward our goals. It ‘s not so much the amount of time she would get for the services that is important to me if not that those providing the service are dedicated and really in it for the benefit of my child.
Sophie also gets Private OT and ST/FT at 90 min of each service weekly and the best part is the school knows about it and even has their contact info so they can stay on the same goals. It’s great to have there support for me to move forward and get Sophie any additional private therapies she is eligible for.
After having had such great therapists in Florida I was extremely terrified I would not have such luck especially after my experience with the FL school board. But I am very happy to be able to say we have once again found a great time to help support my little big girl. It has taken the hard work of so people many to get Sophie where she is today and it will take a united effort to keep her on this track and I am very happy to say that so far it looks like I have found the right team to do so. Feeling very lucky right now.
Developmental update coming soon!