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SLP Mommy of Apraxia: IEP on the other side of the table

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

IEP on the other side of the table

So yesterday we had Ashlynn's initial eligibility meeting.  I am so used to be the one running the meeting and telling parents the results of testing, that it was a little surreal to be on the other side of the table. 
I have to say that the entire process was underwhelming and I left less than impressed.  You would think that knowing I am an SLP for a neighboring school district that they would have had their @&it together, but they didn't. 
To start, the evaluating SLP informs me that she can have the finished IEP to me in about a week to two weeks.  I initially agreed, but it is best practice to send the finished IEP home with the parents.  I shared that in my district we usually send the IEP home with the parents, which had her back peddling and saying that she could do that but I would have to wait a bit after the meeting for her to make corrections.  I told her that was fine with me, since that is how I do it when I am running an IEP meeting.
Next, she starts reading the reports to me, and they are loaded with errors and mistakes.  Did she not proofread before she sat down with me?  I understand a few mistakes and errors, but honestly there were errors all over the page!  At this point, I'm still trying to keep my cool even though the first impression is not very good.  Next, the SLP who will be seeing Ashlynn comes breezing in late.  When she sits down, the evaluating SLP asks her if she would like for her to go over the Speech report.  Really?  The SLP who will be treating my child didn 't read the speech report before I got there?  Afterward, she went through the goals and then asked "Jane" if she had anything to say.  Quickly, Jane began to explain that she is there two days a week and goes into the classroom and sees the kids in a group.  She told me that it is a great language enriched classroom that Ashlynn will get a lot out of.  Um...Ashlynn has APRAXIA.  I'm really fuming at this point.  All the research for apraxia says that children need intense one-on-one sessions 3-5 times a week.  In addition, apraxia isn't a language disorder, it's a motor speech disorder!! Finally, the law is very clear that kids receive services based on their NEED.  It is illegal to base service delivery time on the amount of time the therapist is there.  In my district, if a therapist has a child with apraxia who needs more time than she is physically in the building, the speech coordinator sends an additional SLP or SLPA to provide services! 
I immediately hop in and ask her if she is familiar with any of the apraxia research.  Now she gives me a deer in the headlights look.  Maybe, hopefully, she was thinking to herself she should have prepared a little better, especially since the child's mother is an SLP!!!  She stammers that David Hammer came and talked to them about two years ago, and she has Kaufman cards etc.  I said great, that she would understand how the service delivery is different for children with apraxia then.  That Ashlynn needs very specific motor planning therapy that is not easily addressed in the context of a language based group therapy session.  She was quick to say that she also pulls kids aside when she is in the classroom, and will leave worksheets with Ashlynn's sounds for that week with the teacher to work on for the days she is not there. 
I asked her if she would be using the Kaufman method then.  She replied she would have to get to know Ashlynn before she picked one method or sounds to work on.  Fair enough, but this woman did not so much as glance at this IEP before she came to this meeting.  It's unbelievable.  If this is the level of professionalism she offers to a fellow SLP's child, then what does she offer to parents who aren't as educated as myself??  I'm so angry!!
After that, she excused herself since it was the end of the day and she needed to get home.  What?  Really?  I'm not the one who scheduled this meeting for the end of the day.  I could have come in first thing in the morning.  This woman is going to be my daughter's case manager, and she leaves the meeting early?  Unbelievable. 
After she leaves, the classroom teacher jumps in to give me a packet of papers to fill out.  In addition, she tells me that her classroom is a really great language enriched classroom  (there's that phrase again, but it sounds good right?) that will be really great for Ashlynn because all the kids are basically working on the same things.  At this point, my bitch side starts to come out.  I interject that I am worried that Ashlynn will be getting cookie cutter treatment when what she really needs is a teacher and SLP who can help her with her motor speech disorder.  Now the teacher gives me a deer in headlights look.  Sigh.  I'm not trying to intimidate anyone or be pushy, but come on people!  I'm not asking of them anything I wouldn't expect from myself.
We then talked about Ashlynn's start date.  They said they were going to have her start November 5th even though her birthday is October 20th, because there will be fall break and they don't want to have her start school only to have to take a break.  They reasoned that with the transitions and all it would be better to just have her start November 5th.  Well that sounds good, but guess what?  My daughter doesn't have autism.  She has NO problem with transitions or separating from me.  She loves school, loves kids, and has never cried when I left her somewhere.  Plus, the law is very clear that under FAPE, a district must offer services to a child on their 3rd birthday.  When I explained all this, low and behold they told me that her morning class in fact doesn't start until November 5th, but she could come to the afternoon preschool until then if I so chose.  I told them I would be coming by the week before her Birthday to observe the afteroon preschool class.  Ugghh
After that, the teacher left!  This is ALSO illegal by the way.  A general education teacher is required by law to stay the entire meeting, and it only makes sense right?  They are the one who is going to be with my child most of the day, so they need to know what specific needs the child has!! 
I did make it clear to the evaluating SLP that it did not seem the SLP who left early knew much about apraxia, and that I would give it chance; but if I didn't start to see progress, or feel that she is using a motor based approach to therapy with Ashlynn, I would take it higher.   Time is precious with apraxia.  Early intervention is key.  My daughter can't afford to be at the hands of someone who doesn't or can't help her right out of the starting gate! 
I left very frustrated.  My husband told me to calm down and wait and see how it goes before I get my feathers ruffled.  Time is of the essence though, and there is nothing more important than my daughter.
My advice to any parent walking into these IEP meetings is to bring an advocate.  I work in the school district and know the law, and if you are a parent at one of MY IEP meetings, I follow it.  However, if an IEP team did all this to ME, an SLP for a neighboring school district, what do they get past the average famiy who doesn't know the ins and outs??  You have rights parents!  You are an integral, if not most important member of the IEP team.  Don't be bullied because you didn't know.

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At October 13, 2012 at 10:23 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have the same issues with my son's school district. More problems with the OT because of his motor Apraxia. They don't think he needs it. They also want to reduce his Speech minutes as well. He doesn't have one on one sessions. I wish I knew the laws! Good luck and I understand how you feel!

At October 14, 2012 at 2:37 PM , Blogger Laura Smith said...

Thank you. Unfortunately the therapist can use "professional judgement" to decide what your son needs. In addition, school based therapists base need on how well they can function in an educational environment, so it's not necessarily against the law for the OT not to qualify him, or for an SLP not to see them one on one. Qualificaiton standards are different for school based therapists than for private. Good luck with you and your son as well!

At June 6, 2013 at 11:56 PM , Anonymous Emily said...

Oh wow. We had our first preschool IEP placement today and I heard the same thing over and over "great language rich environment". That is even worded in her IEP under Section 14, Recommended Placement. They want to give her 2 group sessions with 4-6 kids for 30 mins a session. She is getting 2x a week an hour per session with Early Intervention right now. I already have a letter typed up to send to the school requesting Prior Written Notice to my requests. The Special Ed director signed saying she/he was there at the meeting, but I never even met him/her (couldn't read the signature). The signature was not on that sheet when I signed it. I feel taken advantage of big time.

At June 7, 2013 at 5:33 AM , Blogger Laura Smith said...

Emily, I just replied on fb. The SPED teacher or SLP can also serve as the director and sign twice. Does the signature look like any of the others? If not, it's not unheard of to tape record meetings. I've been in a few.


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