Yesterday we had our initial intake meeting or case conference at the school Monkey will be starting at in September (I still can’t believe she will be in JK this year). Around the table we has the Principal, Vice-Principal, SERT (Special Education Resource Teacher), a Kindergarten Teacher, an resource teacher from the school board, staff from Monkey’s daycare, one of her ABA therapists , a person from the regional supports team and us – Monkey’s parents. So, it was quite the meeting. We discussed Monkey’s behaviours, and I even made an “All About Me” handout which explained some strategies to communicate with her, interact, and outline where she needs assistance.
While she has made huge improvements in her communication and skills, there are still areas that need to be highlighted in order to get the support that she needs in the classroom. There have been lots of instances where she has shown escape behaviours (it is common for her to run down long hallways and escape when demands are placed on her), and also hitting other adults as well as peers (not hard, but generally to receive attention). We are working diligently to reduce these, but she still needs substantial help in these areas. Toilet training is still being worked on, and about 90% of BM’s happen on the toilet, but pees are another story. We are working with an Occupational Therapist to work on her dressing and manipulating clothing as well as toileting, and is one of our primary goals to master before school starts.
Based on these, and the fact that Monkey has a diagnosis, there will be an Educational Assistant (EA) in her classroom to help her throughout the day, but will not be dedicated to her only. Our goal was to get 1:1 support, but we also know the realities of the education system and the fact that special education funding is getting pulled back every year. We wanted to give the most accurate portrayal of Monkey without anything sugarcoated – because these educators will need to deal with the good, bad, and ugly so honesty was important.
I am excited for her to start this new chapter, but I am also terrified. I want to see her gain new skills and love school and learning, but I also know that the things that may come easier for other children will not be easy for her. I am terrified for school bullying – I am terrified that she will feel like an outcast and won’t fit in with anyone. But, I also know that this is necessary for her to figure out who she is and find the things she is passionate about.
We meet with the school again near the end of August to give them updates and what skills she will have gained over the summer to give a more accurate picture before school starts. I know that the school will then decide whether a 1:1 EA is needed, but you had better believe that I will fight for one if she needs it – because that is my job. If that means I come off as a giant bitch then so be it – because I will do whatever I need to to ensure her success and support.
After she has been in school for a month or so, an IEP will be developed with her teacher and the SERT at the school. Multiple people have told us that we do not sign until we are happy with it. Our therapy goals over the next few months will be geared around her starting school and getting her ready to interact with peers and activities in a classroom environment. And just in case, I had better sharpen my mama bear claws too.