In a season of firsts, we can add another: We attended our first IEP meeting for Lina today.
IEP stands for Individualized Education Program and is the required legal document that has to be in place in order for a student to receive special eduction services through the public school system.
This is our first IEP meeting, because Lina is turning three in less than a month. On that day, her therapies and other services will transition from Tennessee Early Intervention (a division of the department of education for qualifying babies and toddlers) to the local school system.
We met with Lina’s IEP team, which consisted of:
- the assistant principal, who oversees the early childhood program for our designated school,
- two early childhood teachers (one representing special ed, the other representing regular ed),
- physical, occupational and speech therapists,
- the school psychologist
- and one additional new teacher there to observe.
It was a full room.
The meeting was long and detailed, but it was fantastic. We were so impressed with the warmth and professionalism of every person there. I had typed up a document listing Lina’s areas of strength and goals we wanted to work on, and it was remarkable how in line that was with the assessments and goals the IEP team had prepared. We came away with a signed IEP we are very happy with, listing specific goals and services.
So now we know:
- As soon as Lina turns three, she will begin the Early Childhood preschool.
- She will attend 8:30-11:30 a.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
- A speech therapist will be in the classroom all day two days/week and an occupational therapist will be there the other two days.
- In addition, Lina will be pulled out for 30 mins. twice/week for individual or small group speech therapy and the same for occupational therapy.
- She will also receive 20 mins. each week of individual or small group physical therapy.
- Her class will be around 12 kids (between 10-14); six of those kids are typically developing, and the others will have a range of special needs.
- There will be four adults in the classroom all day: one teacher, two assistants and a speech or occupational therapist.
- Lina’s teacher is wonderful and has a master’s degree in early childhood special education. She also has worked with the KidTalk research program at Vanderbilt (which Lina has been participating in this summer).
- The Early Childhood program for our area is at an elementary school about 20 minutes away. The building is six years old, open, brightly-lit and very clean.
I am so grateful. I get a little teary thinking about the difference this program will make for Lina. I think often of kids with challenges like hers who live in places without access to these kinds of resources, and it about breaks my heart. I know how lucky we are.
And then, there’s this: in less than a month, I won’t be driving Lina all over creation for therapy appointments!
Do not feel guilty that you, the caregivers, are receiving much needed respite with this program. You will benefit too from the hours this will provide for your own refreshment. Take advantage of it. I love having Dean go to his adult day program too! Don’t know what I’d do without it!!! Recharge and regroup while she’s away.