18 DAYS

There were 18 days left before the end of the school year. This could be a difficult time for the Navigator. He got nervous about the end of what he knew – his teacher, his classroom environment, who his classmates were.

He got nervous about the unknown of what was coming in the next school year – having to get used to a new teacher, a new classroom, new classmates, new academic demands.

As time went on and he transitioned to new grade levels, new teachers, new classmates, his developing maturity, successful experiences to look back on, and tools and strategies he learned over the years, helped him manage the changes.

We also incorporated into his IEP that he met his new teacher at least three times before the end of each school year, and got to see his new classroom.

This, and that he was not to be sent out of the classroom when he was misbehaving, were the two elements of the IEP that I dug-in most strongly about.

He was diagnosed in the first grade, and his first IEP was completed in the spring of that school year. With only three months of school left, there was resistance to my insistence that he meet his second grade teacher before the end of first grade.

At the time the school, which was on a year-around calendar, had a somewhat confusing overlay of four “tracks.” At any one time, there was a track on break and a group of teachers unavailable because they were on vacation.

This made it difficult for the school district to assign teachers earlier than August each year.

I didn’t care.

The Navigator had struggled with transitions to new teachers and new classrooms since pre-school. Once we knew why – autism – I saw no reason why we should not work with what we knew and ease that transition by giving him valuable knowledge

a face, a space, something for his visual mind to work with when facing his anxiety

I had no problem being that parent that the principal had to tell the school district about:

“I’ve got a parent insisting on this in the IEP and we need to comply.”

And I said that at the meeting.

I am glad that I did. His transitions into second grade and third grade were so much better than all the classroom transitions before, I felt somewhat vindicated in my insistence. 

I realize that there are a lot of other factors at work, like his age, experience, the work of his special education teachers – we’ll just call this correlation, instead of causation, OK?

And yet there we were again – 18 days out.

Guess who had to email the team saying “So, about his meeting his fourth grade teacher as outlined on the IEP…?”

As Alastor Mooney in Harry Potter was so fond of saying:

“Constant vigilance!”

 Constant vigilance


Also published on Medium.

5 Comments

  1. Good for you for persistence and for knowing what your son needs. My son is only 4 1/2 but I’ve realized that the parents really are listened to (or at least, I have been) when it comes to IEPs. Having your son meet his teacher for the following year now is brilliant!

  2. It is really wonderful that you already feel empowered as a parent. What a great foundation for you and your son for when he starts school. You will be able to use your expertise as his parent to help tailor the best approaches for him and that is fantastic! 

  3. QUESTIONS TO ASK HIS NEXT TEACHER

    We are getting ready for the Navigator’s meeting his new fourth grade teacher. We will get to meet the new teacher, too, and I am compiling a list of questions for that meeting.When crafting questions, it is important to think about a) what my goal is, e.g., I want to know what I need to do to help with my son’s education; and b) not to ask questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no.” There is limited opportunity for discussion and shared understanding with simple “yeses” and “nos.”What do you know about Autism?We have had our son’s …

  4. I have an almost junior in high school with Adhd/SPD/OCD and lots of panic attacks,also a sleep disorder:) and I am totally THAT mom. I am so nice, thankful, chatty, to her school people but…the administrators and teachers should not underestimate me. I know my rights, and how the system works. I have the power. I made the special ed teacher sad this year when I decided to pull her out next year to homeschool her for her core classes, and have her just come to school in the morning for her choir classes. She is so happy! In a school of 2000, her sensory issues and panic will get under control! They think she won’t “do” homeschool, I can’t teach it (ed. Major in college, I write curriculum for my preschool, it’s not rocket science).
    They are sad they spent soooo much money testing her (we tested privately too, but they repeated some of it), and she’s a sweet kid. So after all that this year, I sent gifts to her special ed teachers, but didn’t here back from the coordinator. I guess it’s too bad he doesn’t get to decide whats best for her, but since her dad and I have loved her for 16 years now, we’ll just keep on doing what we think is best! Blessings on your journey advocating for your son. I have never regretted it, and both my kids know I will go to bat for them and win (graciously)!

  5. April, that is a terrific story! Your kids are so lucky to have a brave and resourceful mom standing behind them.

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