Thursday, August 30, 2007


I am a procrastinator by nature. This began in school, of course. I've never completed a project more than 24 hours before a deadline, at least not once my parents began leaving it to me to get things done. Homework was often done in my car before school or inside my desk in another class. Though, I was always an excellent student, even half-assed work generally garnered an A. This has transferred to life, to the workplace. I need my employers to give me, what have been called "drop dead dates" or I can't organize my workload. I need to know the final moment something must be completed, and then I organize accordingly. Instead of working towards a goal from the beginning, I try to time it from the end. This has now transferred into blogging, evidently, because today is the day after Hump Day, and here I am with a Hmmm.

School. It's a timely topic. My son just started Kinder this week! He is attending private school, a half-day program. There are a few possible topics built in right there. But that isn't what I'm going to discuss. My other child, my baby KayTar, will be, most likely, starting school herself in February.

My baby! In public school!

It sounds distant, doesn't it? February. But in October, we have our first meeting with the district. Next month, she has her very last ECI evaluation. Services will continue, but only until the switch in February.

We never intended to deal with the public school system. We decided to put the children into private school before there were any children in existence. It was a given for us. Financially, it is a stretch, but it is worth it for us. Then came KayTar, and not only will we have to enroll her in public school to allow her to get the assistance she needs, we have to do so when she is 3. On her third birthday, specifically. In six months. And I am wholly unprepared. It was difficult for me to send my capable, social, five year old to school this week, and it is only a half-day program at the same school he attended last year. I can't imagine dropping my three year old KayTar at public elementary.

First, the school district will review her paperwork that is transferred from ECI. Then they will do their own evaluation of KayTar's development. This will stand alone, not affected by reports from ECI or from her current private therapists. It will only be what they observe during the session. Her team leader/developmental therapist said, that with her hearing loss, motor function and speech delays, along with the feeding disorder, she will likely qualify for the classroom setting, half-days, 5 days a week. As she said that, KayTar read a word out of the book they were looking at together. Her therapist looked at me and said, "But don't let her do that in the evaluation. I don't know if they'll buy it if they realize she is reading." I think she was half-joking, but it concerns me for two reasons. First, I can't control when she reads. We were driving down the road two days ago, and passed a Work Boot store, and she pointed and exclaimed, "Work!". The list of things she reads it still growing, and it cannot be controlled. Second, I don't want to ever have to downplay her strengths in order to have her weaknesses addressed. Yes, I am fully aware of her capabilities and incapabilities. I have a realistic view of what she can and cannot do, and I know that she needs services to fulfill her educational needs, whether she is reading or not. I want the school and the teachers who are working with her to accept this as well. I don't want her to be disqualified from receiving assistance for her deficits, because she is ahead in certain areas, and I don't want her strengths to be ignored in favor of her weaknesses. I feel that this will be a difficult balance to achieve, and that is worrisome. It cannot be remedied by private education, at least not in our area, because even the best schools are not equipped to handle children with any sort of substantial differences.

In February, as I've mentioned, we lose her amazing insurance. All other plans that we've looked into do not cover private therapies for children with developmental delays or disabilities past the age of three. No coverage. If she does not qualify for services through the district, she will fall through the cracks. I am so thankful for the Birth to Three initiatives that have provided such excellent services for us and others like us, but age three is not when these issues end. Private therapies cost a pretty penny, and right now, she receives (from both ECI and private therapists):

Developmental therapy once per week, 30-45 minutes
Physical therapy once per week, 30-45 minutes
Occupational therapy, once per week, 1 hour
Speech therapy, twice per week, 1 hour each session
Nutrition evaluations, once per quarter, 45 minutes

There will be no way to continue a load like that without assistance. And none of these therapies are frivolous, they are all necessary for her to continue. So, I hope that when the time comes, the district will decide she qualifies for their programs. Our fate is in their hands, essentially.

For those of you with older children, who have navigated the murky waters of the therapy to district transition, how did you manage it? Is there anything I should know? Wisdom about the IEP process? I have many books to read, but I know that in the end, personal experiences are much more valuable that anything that I can read in a book. If you've got it, lay it on me.


Becca said...

I have no advice, but wish you luck! I know you've read Amalah's post about getting Noah evaluated and their positive outcome, so maybe KayTar's evaluators will also be kind and reasonable.

S said...

So much to say...

The new banner is gorgeous!

And that photo of KayTar is compelling.

And, finally, you, Kyla, are just so wise. It will all work out because you are her champion. And damn, girl, you are bright!

Julie Pippert said...

Oooh I like the new look.

Public versus private is such a case-by-case issue. Two friends have had kid in our local school's assisted IEP program.

Rob at Schuyler's Monster writes a lot about dealing with public school. In fact, after they moved to TX from CT, they left Austin for Plano to get the best program for their daughter.

Gina at Meet My Brother does the same.

They have great insight.

I hear you---how could I not with such eloquence---about resetting expectations and steeling yourself for the choices and advocacy ahead.

I have friendship and support, but no experience. I'll see what i can find...

Ravin' Picture Maven

moplans said...

I know exactly what you mean about not wanting to downplay her strenghts. I really feel the same way. However, in my brief experience at this, I have found that it is helpful to play up the difficulties when you are assessed for services.

Psycho Kitty said...

We just have a 504, not an IEP--but I have a friend whose boy has one; I'll ask her about it. I think you must prepare yourself NOT to let it be in their hands--but to push back if for some reason they do not want to support her in the ways she needs. A pain, I know, but I think you'll be good at it. :)

Aliki2006 said...

You do have your plate goodness.

We're new to the IEP process. My son has Asperger's and was just diagnosed this past summer. We had to scramble to write up an IEP and go to meetings and get it all straightened out.

I think I should e-mail you with whatever advice I can offer, since it will be too lengthy. I did tons of research on it, but like I said, we're still stumbling a bit through it all.

OhTheJoys said...

I don't have any advice... just good thoughts for you. You have way more than your fair share to work out, friend.

Anonymous said...

Hmm. Where to begin? It's just to vast a topic. I think the only helpful advice I can offer [which you already know] is to start [continue] a teamwork approach with 'the authorities.' A positive relationship with the professionals can oil so many wheels and make everyone's experience a positive one.
Best wishes

Junie's Blog said...

Oh Kyla! I think it's terrible Katie is going to be left hanging just because she turned three! I wish I knew more about the programs there. I know about IEPs but I'm not sure what you are looking to find out? I think the IEP/IPRC(Identification, Placement, and Review Committee) process is the same but again I'm not sure. You should be instrumental in the preparation of it! I totally believe that strengths should be used at every possible turn. Our strengths are what we rely on while we work on our weaknesses.

Anonymous said...

McEwen is right. Go in assuming the school wants to work with you. As a teacher, I hated IEP meetings because the parents always assumed I was not on board. They would say "You need to do this like this" without finding out what I was doing. It made me less interested in working with them.

motherbumper said...

I wish I could help, I really do wish I could help with some sage advice. If the evaluators are reasonable people they will see how much KayTar will thrive with these important services. I'll be rooting for you (but you already knew that).

motherbumper said...

OH YES! I love the banner :)

flutter said...

That banner is breathtaking, I wish I had something to add, other than I am thinking and hoping for you and for her.

ms blue said...

Is it possible that she's picked up reading some words at the exceptional age of two because of the other delays in her development? People do tend to focus on their strengths by developing those first.

~aj~ said...

I'm afraid I don't have any advice either. However, I do have a good friend that worked as a speech path in the public school system for a while, so I'll see if she has any good info for you.

The new banner is great! Did you do it yourself?!

Janet said...

I can't get past this:

"But don't let her do that in the evaluation. I don't know if they'll buy it if they realize she is reading."

I hate that you would have to conceive of hiding a two-year-olds amazing ability to read words, in order to get her the support that she deserves.

Run ANC said...

I'm sorry that I don't have any advice, but I have to say that I would agree with Lisa B - just get her in the program any way you can and go from there. You can always pull her out if it's not a good fit.

Also, LOVE the new banner.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kyla,

I am a preschool special education teacher in a public school, but like you are looking at for Kaytar. For my advice, I just want to tell you that you need to highlight her strengths AND weaknesses. For a committee looking at her, this information is really important because it shows the diversity of her learning. For a preschool teacher, it is great, because I always want to know what the kids are great at (motivators!) and what they need to work on. I don't like that the therapist told you to hide her strengths! If the district is thorough in testing, they will want to have a complete picture of Kaytar.

Work with the school -- I can tell you that I always try to have the best interest of the child in mind. For the past two years I taught a two year old (and turning three) class and it is really hard to transition from Birth-to-3 programs into a public school, but the kids love school!

If you want more advice, I would be happy to give it to you (or at least talk you through the process).


Katie said...

First, I am in love with the new header, just stunning and oh so fitting!

About the IEP and school system, I could go on for days and probably will later! For now, the best piece of advice I can give you goes against everything you have set in your mind. To get the services you need you must emphasize the "cannots." Whatever Kaytar is lacking you need to proclaim loudly to anyone who will listen, save your moments of pride at her accomplishments for another day, the IEP team needs to know what she cannot do so that they can argue her place for therapy.

natalie said...

As a public school teacher in a county that is HUGE into inclusion, I can tell you that we NEVER encourage parents, teachers, anyone, to down play strengths so weaknesses can be addressed. Sometimes, it's because of the strength that the weakness is so obvious and needs to be dealt with. If you have any questions about IEP, feel free to e-mail me. I'll be glad to share my experiences with you. I am aware that in some place, the Board of Ed tries to bully parents, but where I live, EVERYONE sees education as a partnership. The IEP is a critical component of educating children with any type of disability. It is a legally binding document that MUST be followed by everyone who has an educational influence with a student (nutrition manager, music teacher, librarian, EVERYONE). Good luck.

Mimi said...

Gorgeous! She's gorgeous! And clever. And I would be offended, too, at the idea of downplaying a strength in order to get a need addressed. Terrible.

And? Ca. Na. Da.

I'm just saying.

Beyond that, you're dealing with this just so well. You've got your business together, lady, and that's half the battle.

thethinker said...

I don't have any advice, but good luck with this whole process.

Such an adorable picture.

Anonymous said...

I wish I had some advice to give but unfortunately, I am still in major toddler phase, i.e. cluess phase.

All I can say is I am hoping you get the aide and care you need for Kaytar to excel as all kids her age should have the opportunity to do. I am rooting for you!!!

turtlemama said...

Check out the Lilting House, if you haven't already. Lissa's blog is about homeschooling and navigating life with her three-year-old son with special needs. She talks about IEP's and working through early intervention, insurance, and the public school system, first in VA, now in CA where they currently live. There may be some helpful information for you there.

Christine said...

no good advice, sorry dear. my know that we are all out here crossing fingers and hoping she gets all she needs from the district.

hug that kiddo for us.

Amy said...

Sometimes I just can't believe how young you are (lucky you, btw!!). You are so, so wise beyond your years. Both your children are so blessed to have you as their mother.

I hope when the time comes that the district grants Katie what she needs.

Clover-Elf said...

After struggling in certain subjects for... my entire school career, this past January/February I was finally tested to see what exactly was going in my brain.

At age 25, I was finally told that I'm quite gifted... and definitely learning disabled. Overall I did very well in most areas, but there were BIG performance gaps--always have been, but I didn't know what that signified. I mean, seven years before that, I had to take placement exams when I started college. (...Yes, it took me seven years to get a four-year degree. Told you I was struggling.) In English, I got 100% in almost every area. Math... 67%. Everyone has subjects they're good in and subjects they're bad in, but I always did take it to kind of an extreme; I flunked a lot of math and science tests over the years, while getting mostly A's in... oh, virtually everything else.

What you need to know is that strengths matter as much as weaknesses; they're looking for gaps, inconsistencies I guess. If KayTar's doing really well in some areas but REALLY poorly in others, they'll take that into consideration. And even if she's showing signs of being a baby genius (and despite the delays, it is possible!), yes, it's VERY clear there's a problem. It's just starting to look like the problem is far more physical than mental.

Try not to worry... hahaha yeah right, but at least try not to worry TOO much.

JJ_West said...

What state do you live in? I am a special educator and mom. I'd love to help if I can, but some of the state laws differ, even though the federal ones are the same. However, the most recent federal initiative is very flexible for providing services according to need, despite strengths. As someone else stated, we can only improve our weaknesses by using our strengths. I think most big, bad, public educators would have to confess at least that. You are a strong advocate for your child already. You know her best. That is the information you arm yourself with at her meeting to determine services. The present initiative is very much for early intervention, which is a plus for you. I am new to your blog, but would be happy to offer any specific information you need. Email me.