Thursday, April 28, 2016

Special Education Services!

Since my last post about Ella's IEP a lot has happened. First off one of the main reasons she didn't qualify for an IEP was because her Neurologist didn't feel comfortable saying that her short term memory issues were actually caused from the Hydrocephalus. Her Neurologist did want her to see a Neuropsychologist though. I wasn't sure what this appointment was going to entail. I thought it might be where Ella is given some tests and the Dr will be able to know how she learns best or something like that. Really though I was clueless as to what this appointment was all about. 

On February 24th the kids had early dismissal from school so I took all 4 of them with me to Ella's appointment. I had planned that we would probably have to wait for a little while so I had a bag with snacks and card games. Thankfully since this is a pediatric office they are quite well prepared to entertain the kids. 

After a while Ella needed to use the restroom and we actually ended up running into Dr. Dorsch as she was coming out to get us. 

The appointment ended up being quite different than I envisioned. Basically she had toys for the kids to play with and she talked and asked me questions about Ella. She wanted to know things like when she crawled, walked and talked. She also wanted to know some of our family history and about our home life. Then she started talking and basically it became clear to me that she was going to be a major advocate for Ella. 

She explained that you don't normally see people that can talk, walk and generally function from day to day walking around with short term memory issues. It's just not normal. She talked about how we have a very stimulating home and how Ella has not lacked in exposure to all sorts of skills. She even commented on how bright Zeke was because he's just living in our home and being exposed to older siblings. We haven't started formally teaching him anything and he can already count to 12, he can recognize letters and he knows how to spell his name. So basically Ella's delay in learning has nothing to do with our home life or our family medical history. 

She was very confident that Ella's short term memory issues and her learning delays were a direct result from her Hydrocephalus. Hearing this felt like I finally crossed the finish line in a race! I have been working towards getting Ella education services since before she was 3 years old. At Birth - 3 she scored just over the line for them to offer her services, with ECAEP she literally was one point away from being able to qualify for state special education preschool. Every time I tried to get her help she was just a little too good in certain areas. In fact with the IEP testing she was low in certain areas, but then high in other areas and when you stopped and thought about it of course she needed assistance. That's exactly what Dr. Dorsch said....and she was willing to put whatever she needed in an official letter to the school psychologist in order to help Ella qualify for special education services at school. Praise the LORD!!! 

She was also very clear about Ella being retained for Kindergarten. In fact she wants her to repeat it again and stay with Ms. Asselin. Since Ella has short term memory issues if she stays with the same teacher there will be things she doesn't have to relearn such as...teacher style and classroom location. We as an IEP team have to come to the conclusion that she will be retained. I for one am going to fight for it. I don't really think I'll have to fight hard, but just in case I'm ready for it. My thinking is Kindergarten is the foundation of all your want it to be firm and have a strong understanding of the basics. Just like with a house you wouldn't start building the frame of the house if the foundation wasn't firm. Right now Ella's foundation is Play-Doh. It's taking shape and holding together, but it's not yet firm. She needs more only gets harder! 

Back to Dr. Dorsch....she must have written the letter later that day or early the next morning and then faxed it to the school psychologist because the very next day I got a call from Mrs. Perkins saying that Ella now qualifies for Special Education Services!!!! That was music to my ears!!! 

We met as an IEP team on March 29th and discussed Ella's new goals. She is receiving Special Education for Reading, Writing and Math. She's also still going to have Speech Therapy. For speech she still meets for 30 minutes a week, but for her other services she receives 20 minutes for each subject every single day!!! That's 60 minutes a day of special education services. She meets with Ms. Burdsall for reading and math and with Ms. Alisa for writing. At first I wasn't sure how Ella was going to like it since she's being pulled from her class and her classmates, but she really loves it! The best part is she isn't going to miss out on any of her specials such as library, music and PE. 

Her first time meeting with Mrs. Burdsall was the week before spring break. Ella came home and said, "Mama...I can spell Mom....MMMM....M.....Ahhhhh.....O.......MMMM.....M!" I was so proud of her! 

Student Led Conferences were the week after spring break and after seeing her classroom results it just because more and more clear to me that she really does need to retake Kindergarten. She just needs more time and there is nothing wrong with that at all. Ella is a very smart girl she just needs extra time to retain information. We would not be doing her any favors by letting her advance to 1st grade when she's not ready. 

At conferences I asked Mrs. Burdsall if she had any books that I could take home that are the level that Ella is reading at. Currently she's reading at a level A for Fontus & Pinnell curriculum. She let me take home a few copies of books that she reads during her special education time. She even gave us this fun purple pouch to keep them in since we do need to return them to the school.  

A couple days after bringing them home I sat down at the dining room table with Ella and she read me these 3 books. She knows some words for sure, but she also recognizes patterns and just goes with it. She's also good at using the pictures to help her with the words. Which is totally great....she is using the resources she has and that's going to be a great tool for her all of her life. 

I'm so truly proud of my girl! She is such an amazing example in regards to never giving up and never getting discouraged. She has the most positive outlook and she absolutely LOVES learning, LOVES school and LOVES all her teachers. They are such a blessing to her and I know she's a blessing to them. 

I've been praising God for this outcome. I know it didn't happen when I wanted it to, but it did happen in God's timing and that's the best! I'm so happy that Ella is getting the services she deserves. I'm so thankful for these wonderful ladies that are working so hard to help Ella learn and retain information. 


Melody said...

This is fantastic news!!!!! I am so glad Ella is getting support at school!!! Good job Mama! We are in the process of getting Elliott an IEP. Academically he does just fine, but behaviorally he has come completely undone. He's getting suspended and sent home on a regular basis now. We have a meeting next week and hopefully he will begin the evaluation process soon! I'm glad to hear Ella is getting the help she needs and good for you for knowing what she needs and fighting for it!!!!!