Guest Author - Bonnie Sayers
My son Matthew is finishing up his Middle School years and heading off to high school in the fall. This year marks his triennial IEP, plus since he is fourteen the school district includes the Individual Transition Plan (ITP) in the document and requests the student to attend a portion of the meeting to go over the three sections of the ITP - education/training, employment and independent living.
For the Triennial there was a psycho-educational assessment, as well as the nurse report, a speech and language assessment and Occupational therapy report. The ITP is usually done at age sixteen, but our school district implements this at age fourteen. Matthew turns fifteen at the end of the month so this was his second ITP.
Basically the ITP is a document within the IEP. I requested the aide to attend the meeting, which was necessary in order for Matthew to be there. During the interview with the Psychologist for the assessment I gave her a copy of the Functional Behavior Assessment from the company providing ABA therapy.
As in previous years, IEP Prep Time starts months ahead. Matthew's assessment was quite different from the Psycho-Educational Assessment my son Nicholas had through his school district the prior year.
Instead of scheduling the meeting for the team members to complete all the necessary data at one time, the meeting took place over three different dates. I was not expecting Matthew to be at the last meeting, which was to go over high school placement, yet he was brought to the room with his aide versus attending Physical Education class.
There was no organization on the part of the teacher or administrator of how this meeting would be handled. With the first meeting all the service providers were in attendance and provided me with a copy of their report. The teacher opts to read a summary of the data in the packet of papers in front of him. The term that comes to my mind to describe the teacher and administrator is lazy, it is as if they are waiting on their retirement and going through the motions of being there.
Days prior to the initial IEP meeting I was receiving copies of documents that were goals and summaries. At previous schools the three page behavior support plan is handed out a a working document where the team works together to decide what the behavior to be addressed is and how to implement the plan.
The key issues to note for me in the IEP document are as follows:
1. Transportation - home to school
2. ESY - make sure services are provided during this time
3. Aide - for behavior, class, bus, general ed, PE, lunch
4. state testing - which level and supports
5. amount of time in general education
6. therapies - specific number of days/hours, group, pull out, class
7. behavior support plan
8. toileting plan
9. IEP goals
At this point in time I would rather have the document signed and ready for next school and then have that IEP team determine what needs to be adjusted or modified. I feel the most important aspect of the transitional IEP for a move to another school for the next level - be it middle school or high school is that there needs to be someone attending the meeting that has knowledge of the next grade level and what a typical day is like.
No one at the Middle School had any information pertaining to high school like the hours in school, the number of classes in a day or how long each class lasts. For the past three years Matthew has been dressing into his gym clothes in the classroom. He wears a uniform and there are no lockers. The high schools are huge and overwhelming with more than one building. I took this into consideration when choosing the school and class for him to attend during his high school years.
In Elementary school Matthew attended the same autism class for four years with the same teacher and six male students. In grades six through eight he has been in a mental retardation severe class with a mix of boys and girls, mostly those with Down Syndrome.
I mentioned at the meeting I would like so many copies for various agencies, as well as one for the aide to take to the high school the first day. I learned from one other move from one Elementary school to another that it takes two months for the student file to arrive at the school. We are also going to bring a copy to the high school that has extended school year services this summer.
The administrator mentioned at the meeting that the IEP - Individualized Education Program is a private document and the aide could not get it. I thought that was very rude considering the aide was right there as a member of the IEP team and signed the document each time he was present.
We will all go to the new high school sometime before school starts to meet the teacher, see the classroom and learn all about the campus. I am just happy that my son only has one more week to go in this Middle School and we can start the next chapter in a new setting.
Educational Autism Tips for Families 71 page resourceful ebook for families entering the school system with a recent autism diagnosis. Find out what issues take place over the course of a school day and meet these challenges head on.