If your a follow of my blog, you may have already seen IEP’s: The What, How, and When for California Homeschoolers, but if not you can find it here.
We started our IEP journey when Green Bubbles was only 3 1/2 years old, although I didn’t realize it at the time. We had Green Bubbles screened for a speech delay through our doctor. I was always a little concerned about his language skills but it wasn’t until he was 3, and strangers still couldn’t understand a word he said, that I asked the doctor about it. There were certain sounds he just wasn’t saying that a 3 year old should be able to say. He was approved for therapy but paying through our insurance was just to much money and we weren’t able to keep it up for long.
I contacted the elementary school near us, who referred me to another location, who referred me somewhere else. After a lot of run around I ended up back at the elementary school near us. There were a lot of forms to sign, people to meet, more forms to sign. We ended up not going very far on this path. It was frustrating and time consuming.
At the same time I had also enrolled Green Bubbles in a homeschool charter school for transitional kindergarten. He was 4 1/2 at this point and hadn’t made much progress the 6 months we were at therapy, and certainly not the 4 months he had been without. When he was officially enrolled in transitional kindergarten I requested an IEP evaluation for speech.
Thankfully, I had one main point of contact at this point. Unfortunately, my point of contact was our ES (educational specialist) who we only meet with once every 20 school days, about once a month. She agreed immediately about the need for him to be assessed but wasn’t sure how to do it. Our ES is a general education teacher, not a special ed teacher, and none of her students had even needed to be assessed before. It took a few months of us meeting, contacting other people within the school, signing papers, sending papers back, to get everything officially in the system to have Green Bubbles evaluated. In fact, it took until January for us to finally receive an official assessment. In hind sight, I could have made this happen faster by staying in contact with our ES between visits and following up to see where everything stood.
The assessment was performed online in a type of Skype or Facetime type of interview. The woman he met was nice, but the webcam on our side wasn’t working and Green Bubbles didn’t really want to sit and talk to a computer screen. It was stressful and annoying. However, it was quickly established he needed a full assessment. I have had so many people tell me he qualifies. I never doubted he would be able to receive services. All those extra steps just to get to those services was annoying at this point, and frustrating that it was taking so long.
The end of February, we finally met face to face with a certified speech pathologist. We met at a local library. Having a small child assessed for speech is hard work for everyone involved. The entire process took about two hours. Part of the length was Green Bubbles needing to take frequent breaks to move around and get his wiggles out. He was barely 5 years old after all. Staring at pictures and repeating words gets very boring, very quickly. She would point to the picture and ask Green Bubbles, “What is this?” and he would respond with “A house”. Then she would point to something else and ask again and he would give her a look like he couldn’t believe she didn’t know what it was. After a pause,
“A vindow.” This went on for sometime in order to hear exactly what sounds he was having errors with, what he was replacing the sounds with, if it happened only at the beginning, middle, or end of words, and so much more. There were many times he just refused to answer or didn’t want to say certain words because he knew he couldn’t. I was grateful our SLP, speech language pathologist, was very patient and understanding.
We had our IEP meeting shortly after that. It’s very emotional for me to go through. It’s hard to have that talk about your child. The meeting starts off talking about your child’s strengths. We just had our one year review of his IEP as a matter of fact. Green Bubbles is great at math, even if he doesn’t really like it. He is picking up science concepts most kindergartners have never heard of. He loves history and all the hands on projects we do. Green Bubbles is very outgoing and social and loves to talk about things that excite him. But then you move to the struggles. To hear everything he is failing at, it makes me feel like I failed. It’s my fault that he’s struggling. I know it’s not, but in the meeting, facing it all head on, it can feel that way. We weren’t able to check off any of Green Bubbles IEP goals. It’s just disheartening. I remind myself that I’m doing what is best for my son and we will get him the help he needs. We will keep working. He is already starting to improve. I am starting to hear /k/ and /g/ sounds in his speech from time to time. It’s not consistent but it’s starting to come. I’m hopeful by the next IEP meeting we’ll be able to check off some, if not all of his goals.
Green Bubbles is a very friendly, outgoing, excited, exuberant boy. I’m going to do everything I can to make sure he stays that way.