What a difference! Last year’s IEP meeting for Ronnie included 20 people, 2 of whom were attorneys. The meeting was contentious to say the least and ended with Ronnie’s former guardian ad litem being removed from the school premises by the county police. This year – 5 people, all smiling, all in agreement, all satisfied with the final IEP document and all the decisions that were made.
Instead of listening to the guardian ad litem talk about what a poor, mentally retarded child Ronnie was, I heard this:
- He has made such progress this year!
- The test results from before that showed he was borderline to moderately cognitively impaired were all invalid because the tests that were used were not normed for a child that was deaf.
- Any deficits he does have in reading and writing are due in part to his deafness and use of ASL and in part to his not receiving appropriate services in the past.
- He’s the happiest kid at the school!
- He wants to go to the culinary arts technical center, and we think he should.
- He’s the best basketball player on the team.
- We’re so proud of him!
There are going to be some changes in his program, but he and I agree that they are changes for the better. For example, my school district has had Deaf children (both oral and signing) spread throughout the county in several different schools. A new high school just opened this year (described by one person as a palace), and it will house the entire Deaf program. While I am a staunch advocate for children with disabilities going to their home schools, it does make more sense for Ronnie to be in a Deaf culture environment, an environment where he doesn’t have to struggle to communicate with his peers.
The new high school is just a little further away from our home than his current, very old, campus style school. The new school is not a campus school, meaning he will not have to contend with hilly sidewalks and bad weather while traveling about the campus in his chair. All his Deaf friends that currently attend the current school with him will also be moving to the new school.
He is excited and so am I. He is also going to tour the school and report back to the administration staff where any improvements in accessibility can be made. We also agreed that he would create a year-long project involving students with disabilities, and that as a result of that project, he would apply to be a delegate to our state’s Youth Leadership Forum next summer.
Oh, and he also said he is ready to learn to drive!!!
Fun times ahead, and I am so very proud of him!!!