Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Frustrations and Gratitude

We had a 504 meeting for Acroboy.  Well, I thought it was going to be a 504 meeting for Acroboy.

Acroboy's teacher has been giving him some accommodations to help him in class.  He gets extra reminders, visual cues, he sits close to her on the rug and so forth.  His reading skills have blossomed under her care and we have seen him make some progress socially.

He has a dual diagnosis of Autism Spectrum and ADHD, which should qualify him for an IEP.  I've met with the district twice about an IEP for him.  Both times I was told he wasn't behind enough for a perceived academic impact on him.  I also had him evaluated for speech at an early age since he didn't really talk until about his second birthday.  By the time we got the evaluation done he was speaking enough that he didn't qualify for services.  I had worked with him on colors, numbers, shapes, etc. and so there was little for outside resources to do.  He just wasn't far enough behind to warrant services. 


This time I wrote a letter stating that though he has dual diagnoses that both qualify him for an IEP, I would settle for a 504 to get the accommodations he is currently receiving written down on paper.  --Firstborn had "unofficial accommodations" and when we met up with a teacher who was less than understanding and willing to work with us, his grades took a nosedive.  I didn't want the same thing to happen to Acroboy. 

The school principal, school counselor, speech therapist, and teacher were all there.  The occupational therapist who examined Acroboy's handwriting was not.  The developmental pediatrician we saw at our favorite Autism medical center also diagnosed Acroboy with Hypotonia (or low muscle tone) in his hands.  Acroboy has terrible handwriting, though the occupational therapist said (via phone call to me at a different time) the handwriting is not out of line with what you would expect in a kindergartner.  

We went over Acroboy's strengths and weaknesses.  His teacher discussed how she had been working with Acroboy on a number of behaviors, social skills and things.  The school speech therapist talked about some of his struggles with social skills as well.  We all know he has had a hard time adjusting to kindergarten.  However, because he has learned to read above grade level and he can figure out times tables now that I have explained the concept to him (4x2 means four groups of two--and he figures out the answer eight), he does not meet their criteria for an educational impact.

They were quick to tell me that he still qualifies for and will receive speech help, but he does not get a 504.

I'm incredibly grateful that Acroboy (and really all of my boys) are doing so well academically.  I have high hopes that they will be able to be fully independent and contributing members of society.  I know many other families who are not so lucky.  Words can't really express how lucky I feel. 

I am frustrated and more than a little concerned that by not writing these accommodations down on paper I will encounter the same problems we did with Firstborn. 

The school officials also told me if we see Acroboy's grades and academic performance go down we can revisit the idea of a 504.  I asked that if I can't get a 504 for Acroboy, when they are placing him in a class next year, could they please place him in a class with a patient and understanding teacher who will work with him--even without the 504.  They assured me they will. 

Meanwhile the occupational therapist sent home a pencil grip and some exercises we can do at home to strengthen Acroboy's hands and improve his handwriting.  

I'm hoping and praying for the best. 

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