First IEP meeting coming up...

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101' started by Sabine, Feb 1, 2014.

  1. Sabine

    Sabine Member

    Hello all,

    I'm new to this board, so just wanted to say "hi", and wondered if anyone had any tips/pointers for me.

    My youngest son is 8 and in the 2nd grade. He is on Intuniv for ADHD, and it is working reasonably well. DS is also dyslexic. His ADHD diagnosis was made by his pediatrician. He hasn't been officially diagnosed with Dyslexia.

    -Side note.. his 10 year old sister is also dyslexic, we had her go to a psychologist so we'd have an OFFICIAL diagnosis.. and that psychologist said he couldn't tell if she was dyslexic or not, but she was definitely ADHD. Some help that was (especially considering she's my LEAST "ADHD" child! LOL).

    We have our first IEP meeting coming up on Wed., and my biggest question/concern is with DS's reading/spelling. I'm working with him each night with the Barton Reading and Spelling Program, it takes about 30 minutes.... and he needs to work on it a minimum of 4 nights a week.

    The spelling list the teacher provides is way above his ability level right now, but his teacher demands he turns in several pages of spelling homework each week (working on her word list). I'm having trouble because DS can only concentrate for about 30 minutes each evening. So, we have to pick. Dyslexia tutoring, or doing the teacher's homework.

    When he doesn't turn in the teacher's homework, she bullies and threatens him, to the point he doesn't want to go back to school at all the next day if he doesn't have his completed homework. I've offered to give her the Barton spelling lists (and even to give him spelling tests at home to send along so it wouldn't increase her workload at all, and she refused).

    DS does a great job with math and every other subject.

    We're in Maryland, if that helps...
  2. HMBgal

    HMBgal Active Member

    First off, dear god, what is wrong with that teacher?! My difficult child grandson is in second grade and has ADHD and an as-yet-undefined mood disorder, anxious, and at times very intense. His teacher is so gentle, kind, lovingly works on appropriate boundaries, encouraging, helps him set reasonable goals for himself, etc. We joke that we would like him to flunk second grade until he's a senior in high school so he can have this teacher. I'm a teacher. I cannot imagine making a child feel bad himself like that. Oy. I'm sorry to save I have no practical advice other than try to quarantine your boy from this woman as much as you can. I hope that some modifications and accommodations can result from all of this to ensure your boy's success.
  3. svengandhi

    svengandhi Well-Known Member

    OK, welcome and good luck. I have a dyslexic H and 2 dyslexic kids (the 2 youngest of 5). Both of my sons are spelling exempt in their IEPs. This means that their in school work is not graded for spelling. Work done at home is but that's because most of it is typed and spell check can be used. When they were younger (grades 9 and 12 now), I worked with them on their spelling and they took the tests with their classmates but the grades were not held against them. The older one was diagnosed before K by my mother in law; the younger functioned much better (ironically, I believe the older one is smarter, but more severely Learning Disability (LD)) and wasn't diagnosed till grade 7 so he didn't become spelling exempt until grade 7. The older one is foreign language exempt, the younger began studying Latin in grade 6 and loves it. He doesn't do great in the grammar area, but I did get him spelling exempt (important because his teacher gives about 40 points of extra credit per test but demands perfect spelling - my son gets the points if she recognizes the answer. He is phenomenal in the culture and history aspects so he passes overall.

    My state doesn't officially give a dyslexia diagnosis so my boys have Learning Disability (LD) in their IEPs.

    What I suggest for you is that you focus on getting them spelling exempt, allowing them to scribe or dictate. My boys use Dragon and it works great for their independence. The younger one is allowed to use Dragon on essay tests in school which he takes in a separate location and with extra time.

    I try not to take an adversarial approach unless I have no other choice. I'm a trial attorney by profession so I can do adversarial quite well but it's best in limited doses. My usual stance is to say that we are a team and that my focus is on my entire child's life not just this class or this school year. Spelling exemption will remove a self esteem destroyer from the child and allow him or her to focus on actual learning. Believe me, this was so hard for me to accept. I was a spelling bee champion (one word away from going to Washington for the one they televise when I was 12) and having kids who can't spell was damaging to MY self-esteem until I realized that their brains work differently.

    Teaching the child to keyboard or use the computer will actually improve their spelling. My H couldn't spell his way out of a paper bag when we met. I know because I used to type his papers for him. Since he began using a computer, his spelling has improved to the point where when he asks me now if a word is correct, it almost always is.

    Your kids are young. Focus on teaching them spelling tricks (I before e, etc.) but get them spelling exempt for starters.

    One last thing, my daughter is now student teaching. She's getting her masters in sped and is currently working with a teacher who is widely regarded as the best teacher in the school in a gifted 3rd grade class. The teacher is compassionate and caring but she doesn't have a strong sped background. daughter has helped her to see how her gen ed reactions to some kids have not really helped them. It might be that your child's teacher has never considered the issue from a sped point of view. For instance, one child in daughter's class has some issues with neediness, etc. He was working in a group but the other kids shunned him and he cried. The teacher's first reaction was to let him work alone. daughter told her that the child was crying because he wanted to be in a group not because he wanted to be alone so the teacher moved him to work with other kids and things went much better. The teacher thanked daughter because she had not been taught to look at issues that way. This is not a mean, unintelligent person. Before she taught, this woman was a research scientist from an Ivy League school. Maybe your child's teacher could benefit from exposure to new approaches? If she truly is mean and horrible, then try to get your child moved to another class.

    Good luck.
  4. Sabine

    Sabine Member

    I have met with the teacher a couple times this year. She seemed nice enough when speaking with me, but it's hard to say how she is with the kids... all I see is the increasingly negative comments in the homework notebook, and my son refusing to go to school.

    She did admit that she's more experienced with older students (mostly 3rd grade). She also seemed shocked by the disparity between DS's reading and math placement scores at the beginning of the year (pre-k reading level and 3rd grade math level).

    This State also doesn't recognize Dyslexia, it's also called Learning Disability (LD).. but without the formal diagnosis, it's hard to know what we can do. Guess we'll find out more at the meeting.

    The idea of spelling just not counting is a really good one. I'll ask them about it, but if they refuse, I personally don't care.. he can bring home F's all year and I won't say a word about it to him. In a few years, with the reading tutoring, he should be working at grade level anyway. The main thing is he goes to school, tries his best, and has a good experience doing it. School is hard enough without it being a torture session while he's there.
  5. svengandhi

    svengandhi Well-Known Member

    Yes, my difficult child had similar discrepancies in reading and math, which gives me another idea, You could use positive reinforcement rather than punitive measures. My difficult child, who isn't dyslexic, was slow to read despite having an IQ of near genius level because he had chronic ear infections and loss of hearing when he was developing speech and he had 4 years of speech therapy. His teacher in grade 1 gave him above grade level math problems because he could do them. He didn't realize he was also learning to read because to him the work was math, which he loved, not reading, which he hated. From that I realized that kids will read what they love. My sons read Captain Underpants because they enjoyed the stories, even though they were tacky. Maybe if he gets to read what he loves, in addition to what he has to read, he will develop a love of reading. My youngest didn't read till 5th grade, now he falls asleep with a book.

    Another idea, which we did at home, was to use books on tape for our dyslexic sons. We'd get the books they were using in school and listen to them on CD at dinner or when they were going to bed. We'd try to get them to read along as well.

    By the way, Learning Disability (LD) is the formal diagnosis in some states.
  6. Sabine

    Sabine Member

    Thanks for the tips :)

    I found out today that the IEP meeting is only for speech. He had undergone academic testing last year, and I just got the results today. The testing showed he fell in the "average" range for everything, so he doesn't qualify for special education services.

    His reading was in the 23rd percentile, which is low, but not "low enough". Does anyone know what the cutoff is?

    It's just as well, since the school doesn't offer any programs that would actually address my son's issues. I figure I'll have him professionally diagnosed by a neuropsychologist so we can get a complete picture.

    The good thing is his teacher said he's very cooperative in class and gets along well.. so that makes me very happy :)
  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    An average or above average IQ does not disqualify a child from having an IEP. It is whether or not he has a learning or behavioral problem that gets in the way of his education. I never go to an IEP meeting without an advocate. Every state has them, they are free, and the school districts never tell you they exist.

    You can find out who your free advocate is by calling your state's dept. of public education and asking for the person in charge of Special Needs. An advocate is well versed in the laws of the state and we are not so an advocate keeps the school district honest and will argue legal points with them.

    If the school district is uncooperative, they can be investigated and no school district wants that. It can cost them money.

    I'd get the advocate and talk to him/her before allowing the school to say that he does not need an IEP. They try to do as little for each student as possible.
  8. svengandhi

    svengandhi Well-Known Member

    Are they going to give him any speech services? As I learned with difficult child, speech therapy can help reading because they focus on how the sounds are formed. I am not sure what criterion would qualify him for reading help, but try to see if they would put him into it. If he's dyslexic, don't use reading recovery. I have a friend who was one of the first RR teachers in the US and she says it's adverse to dyslexics. My easy child was originally given Orton-Gillingham training but he learned so quickly, they moved him to Wilson. Babyboy was not given formal OG or W because he wasn't diagnosis'ed with dyslexia till grade 7 but his 3rd grade teacher had a masters in reading literacy and used a variation of W with him. Both are excellent methods of teaching dyslexic children to read. If you're near a college with a teaching program, see if you can hire a grad student in reading to tutor.

    Also, if they won't spelling exempt him, don't ignore the F's. If you do, he'll internalize that you think he's a failure, even if you don't. I learned this the hard way with my daughter, who was a horrible speller when she was young, despite a verbal IQ of 154. I didn't mention her spelling scores and one day, she cried to grandma that I was ashamed of her. Explain to him that his brain works differently and that spelling isn't the end all and be all. I told easy child that if G-d expected everyone to spell perfectly, he wouldn't have invented dictionaries or spell check! Also, let him know that most dyslexics are of at least above average intelligence.

    And, MWM is right about IQ. Many kids with IEPs are very bright. All of my kids have IQs in the gifted range (for easy child and babyboy, it's only in the verbal arena; their PIQs bring them down to high average overall but I've been told that IQ numbers for dyslexics don't count) and all 4 of my sons were on IEPs. Oldest boy is mildly Aspie, difficult child's official diagnosis was anxiety but he was pretty much ODD unless intellectually challenged and the 2 youngest are dyslexic.

    Push for speech services and try to get some reading help.

    Good luck.
  9. Sabine

    Sabine Member

    They actually didn't test his IQ at all, so that is still an unknown factor. The test was for his reading/spelling and math. His reading came in at the 23rd percentile, math about 60th.. But the test was administered a year ago. He probably would test MUCH lower now (but they won't test again until 4th grade. Sigh.)

    He does have an IEP in place for speech, and has been receiving services since last year. (The meeting is just an annual review.. it was scheduled for this week, but was postponed until next week due to weather). Hopefully they're planning on continuing to work with him on it.

    He is in an extra reading group (provided without an IEP). The group uses Fundations. The frustrating thing is the teacher was very proud of their choice of the program... but it's the wrong program! I called the company and they concurred. Fundations is designed for whole-classroom use to try and prevent reading problems from the start, but for students that are already having problems, it isn't the right one. (They also make the Wilson program... which IS the right program).

    I've purchased the Barton program for use at home. It is already scripted etc. so it is more user-friendly for a lay-person.

    Thank you for telling me about the spelling grades. I'll sit him down and talk to him about it.

    A funny story: In kindergarten he'd been working on a sight word list for months (about 10 words). His teacher was showing me how he was doing. He got the first 2 right, missed one, then got to "where", and said "place". I knew then exactly what I was looking at ;)

    The whole point is I want the teacher and I to be a team. She does what she does in the classroom, I do what I do at home, and we're not stepping on each other's toes. She's so firm in her system, that even the most minor changes are refused. (I wanted to provide his spelling list so there would be some continuity between the home-school effort.. absolutely not! So I told her point-blank that we don't have the time or energy to do her spelling homework since we have to do the tutoring. Now she'll be keeping him in at recess to work on his spelling homework. Argghh...).
  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Kitty, (I'm assuming you love too! And doggies!) I digress...sometimes the school just will not work with you in the best interest of your child. I tried the nice mom and cooperate mom approaches too and I was frustrated because the school did not seem to be doing much to help my son, who is on the autism spectrum, although THEIR testing said he WASN'T. Also, he had an average IQ and they used that against getting him help too. But he had a special way of learning that was not mainstream so he really did need extra and different help.

    That's when I found out about advocates. I did not really want to make waves, but it turned out to be a very good thing for my son. She managed to talk to the educators and they listened (and, of course, she was speaking for me and she wouldn't let them break any legalities). There is no reason your son shouldn't get the kind of help he needs, but you kind of have to put your warrier mom suit on and force them to do something. That sometimes requires advocates, who are not a part of the school district. They ARE however a part of the public school in your state.

    Good luck :)
  11. Sabine

    Sabine Member

    Thank you very much. I think that advice will come very much in handy in the years to come ;) At the moment, I'll work on getting the neuropsychologist evaluation so we have something concrete to work with, find out what accommodations (if any) the doctor recommends.. then I'll get that advocate on the line. Seems like a good plan to me.

    I am so grateful for the help on this site. The school system's system is really confusing to me, and all your knowledge and experience is helping me so much!