Jon and I attended Lina’s first school transition meeting yesterday. We drove down to the county administration building and met with Lina’s TEIS (Tennessee Early Intervention Services) coordinator and a school psychologist who took down initial information about Lina’s current progress, goals and needs. There wasn’t much new information at the meeting, since we’ve already talked quite a bit with the TEIS coordinator about the early childhood special education program. We got a few answers to questions, but the meeting mostly served as an official introduction to the school system and the kick-off for the transition process. From here, the wheels turn until her first day of preschool on September 14.
The next steps, as we understand them, are:
1. Soon – probably in the next few weeks – we will know for sure which school Lina will be assigned to. Early childhood preschools are not offered at every elementary school in the district. Our zoned elementary school is in a “swing zone,” meaning we could end up at either of two preschools, both of which are about 20 minutes away. There is also a chance the district will open a third program, which could potentially mean a closer option.
2. Sometime over the summer, Lina will be scheduled for a full evaluation, which will include motor, communication, social and cognitive assessments. These assessments will show where she is in her development and will be the basis for her qualification for special education services.
3. Once the assessments are complete, the school system will schedule our first IEP (Individualized Education Program) meeting. This will be the biggie, where we sit down with school administrators, teachers and therapists and outline very specific goals and strategies for Lina. We will be attending regular IEP meetings for the rest of Lina’s educational experience. The IEP is a critical tool for making sure she is receiving the support and resources she needs to reach her full educational potential.
4. In August, we will schedule a tour to see the preschool in action so we have a better idea exactly what to expect on Lina’s first day.
It was a pretty uneventful meeting. The most involved discussion we had was about cognitive testing, which some parents refuse out of distrust for the accuracy of the testing and a concern that an IQ score will result in limiting expectations. But really, it was pretty simple, and we were out of there in about 30 minutes. It’s funny, though; I still felt a bit like a wrung-out dish rag. Even when the logistics are straight-forward, a meeting like that requires a higher level of emotional energy. I think any parent who has been in a school meeting to discuss a challenge can probably relate. I have been to similar meetings with her current school or therapists, but this was the first one Jon was able to attend. He commented last night on how it was emotionally a little bit hard; I felt relieved to share that experience with him. He won’t be able to go to every school meeting, but we agreed it’s important for him to be involved whenever he can. I am hopeful the educational realm we are entering may make it a little easier for Jon to be involved in setting goals and knowing what we’re all working towards.
On a less serious note, I’ll share a few pictures from the last day of my cousin’s visit. We had such a good time with family we see too rarely, and we miss them now that they’re back home in Michigan.