IEP Friday...questions to ask??

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Joined: 17 Dec 2010
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15 Feb 2011, 10:58 pm

My(fourth grader) 9yr old son's IEP is Friday and I am a nervous wreck. He is Aspergers/Moderate ASD and diagnosed Jan. 2010. This is his second year in a gifted magnet program. He is doing well academically but starting after Winter break began getting frustrated to the point of kicking desks, chairs, leaving class, kicking fences, not able to contain his anger sometimes for an hour. He takes Focalin XR in the morning and starting recently a lunchtime dose as well. (not sure if this medication is right for him but that is another post for another day) In class he has a difficult time transitioning subjects, his worst frustration and "meltdown's" happen during math, but the frustration and meltdowns are happening more frequent and over minute things. In agreement with the teacher I started pre-teaching math so he is always a section ahead of the class. Here lies the problem... I work as a classroom aide at his elementary school, his aunt and cousin work there as well. Our family has a long standing relationship with the school. When I originally brought my concerns about a transition problem from 3rd grade to 4th grade (going from 24 students to 34 students in class) my concerns where ignored..until I requested an IEP. From the beginning the school psychologist has said my son "isn't failing so there isn't anything they can do for him", well, now he is bolting from class, kicking things, and grunting instead of using words...They are saying now that "the magnet program might not be right for him" and I believe it will be the main topic of his IEP. I am holding my ground about him staying in the magnet,it is where his peers are and I believe the frustration will be there in magnet or not. The school psychologist is also trying to tell me how to discipline my son because he thinks my son is just manipulating everyone to get what he wants, at the same time the school psychologist is telling me he will "recommend a one-on-one for him but it won't be good for him to have the stigma of having an old person following him around" I am really sick of this school psychologist...Sorry to rant but I just remembered what I wanted to ask here...Does anyone have the IEP list of questions to ask? I have tried looking for it but cannot locate it. Again sorry to rant and does anyone suggest a pre-IEP cocktail???

Yellow-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Woodpecker

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Joined: 29 Jan 2011
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16 Feb 2011, 6:59 am

Ugh, I hear you. My son has Asperger's and ADHD. I just had an IEP meeting last Thursday.

Just wondering - why is your son on Focalin? If it's not working, tell the doc, try a new medication.

I would ask to see if having an ed tech would help. It makes all the difference for my son. During most of the class, she works with other students or corrects papers for the teacher. My son needs her during transitions - in the hallways - and to be available if he has a meltdown. His issue is writing. She sends him hand signals to let him know if he's getting worked up, and she takes him on frequent breaks, and is available to supervise if he needs to work in an empty classroom.

I'd ask if they are tracking his meltdowns to see what causes them.

I'd ask about discipline. In my son's case, being sent to the principal is the best thing possible because it's a small room with only one other person there. As a matter of fact, going to the principal is used as a reward.

Speaking of which, do they have a reward system in place? My son meets goals, but traditional discipline basically doesn't work at all.

Does your son see a therapist? When I was getting push back from the school I brought my son's therapist to the IEP and she set them straight.

Are they doing any social training at the school? It should definitely be a part of his IEP. Tell them to use social stories to help him understand how to deal with his frustrations.

How do they react when he has a meltdown? They could very well be reinforcing them rather than helping him learn not to have them.

IEP meetings can be extremely intimidating. It feels like it's you against the school. Rather than having a cocktail, I would bring an advocate. Anyone who knows your child. Even if they never open their mouth. They can just sit there and support you. My mother came with me to one when I was super nervous. A friend who knows your son can help too. I'd say, find someone to come with you ASAP and tell the school. If you just show up with someone they'll waste 10 minutes going over the proper procedure and throw you in the gutter before it even starts.

Hang in there - let us know how it goes!

Yellow-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Woodpecker

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16 Feb 2011, 11:01 am

At the top of this forum there is a sticky named Sample strengths and needs for IEP Not sure if that's the kind of thing you're looking for,but there are some great suggestions that we've used as accomodations.

I hate IEP meetings. I would definitely suggest that they need to address some of these behaviors. Behavior is communication and it sounds like he's either reacting to too much stress or being pushed out of his comfort zone without any kind of support. In my small amount of experience so far, even though it's kind of standard understanding that kids on the spectrum are intrinsically different and need to be dealt with differently when it comes to "behavior problems" as the school would call them, It's not always understood or applied by the teachers/administrators.

One thing you can ask for is a functional behavior analysis (FBA) which looks at these behaviors - what happened before/during/after to see what's causing or triggering the behavior. We did this for Julian - one of his negative behaviors in school during second grade (pre-diagnosis) was hitting his head. FBA showed that it was an avoidance behavior, highly reinforced by the teacher, triggered by the stress of having to write. In third grade, between the two teachers, school psych and I, we realized that it had become strictly a reaction to stress - when pressured to write. Turns out he's dysgraphic.

I really hate IEP meetings. Did I say that? :o Go to the wrightslaw website, if you haven't been, and look for the autism/ASD tab. Lots of good ideas there too.

I would definitely push to keep him in the magnet program. If that's where he belongs academically, then they need to give him the support and opportunity to do what he is capable of. That's where that FAPE /IDEA stuff comes in, appropriate being the operative word for you, probably. Least restrictive environment comes into play too.

Best of luck! Let us know how it goes.


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16 Feb 2011, 12:07 pm

Ask where (in which parts of school - classroom, lunchroom, gym, hallways, arts classes, library, study halls/recess) his accommodations are in effect and where they are not...which teachers/staff know about the IEP and which do not.

Ask to be emailed EVERY time there is a discipline issue, or a need for an "out" (our son can take 3 breaks over the course of a day when things get difficult for him) or ask to get a daily/weekly report. Ask to be contacted whenever they need to make changes to the IEP (for instance, today my son can't eat in the lobby because there is a book fair, so he has to suffer through lunch in the lunchroom)