Friday, March 11, 2011

The Invisible IEP

So recently I have been thinking about the challenges my son faces mainstreaming at an arts magnet school. The good thing is everyone wants to make sure he gets the accommodation he needs but the outcomes of their efforts sometimes fall short. The constant seems to be that they don't trust my opinion. My perspective is he would not be doing so well if I hadn't spent countless hours researching and implementing practices to ensure he would have the tools to be successful in school. I am not saying everything I have done worked but I learned from mistakes I have made.

I have found an IEP is sometimes just a piece of paper that is tossed aside after a long and sometimes difficult meetings. I have found often the experts wait for problems instead of taking my advice and in advance in order to avoid them. I have found my son sometimes doesn't self advocate because at the end of the day things take to long to change, it isn't that big of a deal and he can get the information in other ways or he doesn't care.

My son meets with his case worker before school every couple of weeks. He used to have pull out for English and math during class time. We found it wasn't helping and it took away from class time. That model may work for some kids but not mine. The idea I had was to have him use teacher office hours after school if he needed help. The district brought up the idea of having the interpreter help him during class. She would be acting as an support for instruction. I very strongly disagree and made a strong objection.

They pointed out that research suggests this type of model works. I pointed out the interpreter is not hired as an aid and needed to focus on the difficult task of interpreting class that last 1 hour and forty minutes. I did mention two interpreters would be appropriate because the classes are so long and there are three a day. Nope, not going to happen this year but it doesn't hurt to ask.

So after that meeting I find out they didn't drop the pull out services. My son tells me they call it English help but all they do is test his math skills, over and over. His teacher gets frustrated because they pull him during lecture. I am not positive but I think  they pull him from English class. Meanwhile the classroom teacher has done research about deaf education and has found a way to specialize his instruction so he is learning faster than I could of hoped for. He is happy with this arrangement but hates the pull out. So I shot off an email to the case worker.

A couple of days pass. I get a quick response saying she will think on it. I think that is code for "stall crazy helicopter mom while we think of a way to make it more useless and complicated".  OK, thats not fair of me but I feel that way sometimes. I do know they are all busy but all I am asking for is they trust me and drop this one service or explain to me how it is effective.

Last night my son tells me he had a meeting with the case worker. I actually like and respect her. The only thing about the meeting that got me a little ticked was the fact she told him they were going to have the interpreter act as his aid. " We know your mom is strongly against it but we're going to try." *nudge, nudge*
I asked him how he felt about it. "dumb idea"
I asked him how he responded. "OK"
"because it will never happen. They don't do what they say they will"

So in order to get what he needs he is side stepping the plan. He will find a way to get the service he wants without confrontation. If he accepts the idea on the surface perhaps the pull out will go away.

The awesome thing is all of the people involved are doing their best to give him what he needs. I don't really know their side of things so I am left to guess. We are really lucky. Sometimes though it feels like it could be much easier.


  1. tell them to hire a Teacher of the Deaf as a interpreter if they were to use them aid the child in classroom :) Really, I don't see much of a difference between a interpreter and TOD who is fluent in ASL because the interpreter who is her own ASL interpretion of the lesson and not the teacher.

  2. Anonymous - Interpreting is a specific skill. Just because someone is fluent in sign, does not make them a good interpreter (ie: I'm not a good interpreter. I've done rudimentary interpreting if needed but I could not interpret a class lecture). The interpreter is interpreting, not actually teaching.

    TOD also is a specific job and not just someone who knows ASL. In fact, some TOD work with oral students or students who cue.

    I don't know much about it but apparently there are levels of educational interpreting. However, I don't think any level operates as an actual classroom aide. It would be very difficult to interpret and work as an aide at the same time.

  3. You are right to oppose interpreters as aides -- they are not trained or paid to do that. And it detracts from your son's access to the direct instruction of the teacher and the classroom.

    I also agree that IEPs seem to be more paperwork than actual guides to implmenting a plan specific to your child.