Easy exemption!

Yesterday, I brought all of Nate’s registration paperwork to his new school. To my surprise, they put up absolutely no fuss about his not having any immunizations after 18 months. I had brought a letter stating the state law that he can’t be denied entrance into the school, but I didn’t have to bring it out; I just signed their exemption request. Woo hoo! He starts this Friday, May 2, the day after his third birthday.

Here are some helpful links I used in the past few weeks:

Our first IEP meeting

We had our meeting with the school district on April 22. The meeting and all in attendance were very pleasant. Afterwards, I wished I would have been a little stronger in resisting their putting Nate in the IBI tutoring, but I realized too that he probably still will do well in there, and if he doesn’t, we can call another meeting.

Here are just some of my notes (with additional comments in grey). This is long, and it isn’t even everything! I decided to include so much detail here, though, in case someone comes across it hoping to find out what their own IEP meeting will look like.

– We went over the few minor changes necessary in the assessments (just factual stuff I found that wasn’t right).

– Next, we went over the proposed goals (which I had asked for and received in advance):

  • Occupational therapy (vestibular, grasping/drawing, tactile)
    Will use gluten-free products
  • Speech/language
    Answering a variety of “wh” questions/functional language
    I asked about a goal for reducing Nate’s echolalia. The SLP said they usually don’t write a specific goal for that–usually it’s an elimination process because the child is comprehending more, and the echolalia decreases on its own.
  • Cognitive skills and pre-academic
    The psychologist noted that these skills are on par for Nate’s age expectancy; she wrote goals to keep him moving along.
  • Adaptive physical education
    Nate doesn’t qualify for individual services for APE, but we included two related goals–using the pedals on a tricycle and learning playground games like red light green light.
  • Social goals (initiating play, increase play repertoire)
  • Other goal I brought up but that was not included:
    Self-monitoring of his special diet. Psychologist and speech and language pathologist noted it was particularly difficult to write any sort of goal for this, especially because there aren’t any natural opportunities for choosing different foods at school besides what the child brings.

– Offer of program and parent response

  • Special day class 8:30-10:45 five days/week
  • IBI tutoring 10:45-1:30 five days/week
    I noted that the we loved the SDC—the kids were talking to each other, interacting (things Nate needs to work on), and we liked the teacher. I noted that the IBI setting did not seem this way. The kids were not interacting, and there were many more apparent behaviors. I asked, “How is he going to work on talking with other kids if the other kids don’t talk?” The district preschool program specialist answered that the SDC feels natural, much like a typical preschool; she said the IBI clinic feels more sterile and is run a little differently—it’s highly structured and they’re really focusing on goals and objectives. She said that, because it is structured with so much adult support, kids really are able to make progress toward goals, especially abstract, social skills. (Hmmm, did this really answer my question? No!)
    She continued by saying that IBI is an autism-specific class, so the kids in there do have language delays and difficulty with socialization. (She was saying this means they really do focus on the language and socialization in there, but in my mind I’m thinking, “Exactly! They have problems with those things! So how will Nate be able to interact with them?”)
    The psychologist noted that the IBI tutoring we observed was the 4-year-olds class, but that the 3-year-olds IBI tutoring class has a “different ambience.” I asked, then, if Nate were to meet this year’s goals, would he not be in the 4-year-old IBI? She answered that most kids do continue in the IBI—just his goals would be changing. (Another answer I didn’t like. If she was confirming that I shouldn’t have been comfortable with how bad the 4-year-old IBI looked, then why would it be good for Nate to be in there when he is 4?)
    The psych mentioned the mock Kindergarten program and other opportunities for inclusion and socialization/peer interaction for when kids turn 4. I asked would Nate be able to be in that mock K if he accomplishes these goals, or would we need to add more goals in order for him to be in the mock K? The psych answered that that is the goal; the SLP confirmed it is what we would anticipate, and the psych said that he is on target toward it. Jon and I noted that the mock K is what we want to shoot for.
    I said that our main concern with Nate and the IBI is that his trouble is interacting not with other children with autism but interacting with typical peers, so we are hoping for as much exposure as possible to those typical peers that is appropriate. This is the area we see him struggling the most. The SLP responded that the theory is to teach them in the smaller group so he can gain the skills, even if it’s rote, and he can generalize to the special day class. More practice, less intensive teaching. (Overall, I am not happy with their responses to my questions about typical peer exposure, since they just talked around the issue and didn’t really address our concerns.)
  • Group speech 15 minutes/week (this is basically nothing)
  • Occupational therapy direct service 30 minutes/week
  • Occupational therapy group 2x/month (with class)

– We talked about a transition plan; Nate will go at least the first few days (or week, or as long as I think it’s needed) from 8:30-12:00 instead of all the way to 1:30. This means he’ll be in the special day class until 10:45, then do lunch with the IBI class, then do recess, which ends at 12:00.

– We also discussed extended school year. Nate will attend the summer program, which ends July 25, but he will not have services in August. I pushed on this one for a while, but the only group-type program they have in August is for severely impaired children, so that wouldn’t work for Nate.

Diet update

I was just reading through old posts and found the one about starting Nate on the GFCF diet. I wrote about how he had a meltdown when everyone else had pizza and he couldn’t have any. That got me thinking about how extremely well he is doing with the diet now but that I haven’t written about it here. When Nate wants to eat something in particular, but I say, “I’m sorry, but you can’t have that. It has gluten [and/or casein] in it,” he now responds by saying, “Gluten casein hurt the tummy.” Then he moves on, not begging for the food or getting upset that he can’t have it. If we are out and Lucy has pizza, he simply points out that it is Lucy’s pizza, but he doesn’t ask for any. He is starting to recognize which common items, like breads, crackers, and cookies, have gluten. It is so nice that he has become so compliant and go-with-the-flow in this area. I think part of it is that all the gluten and casein (and soy) are out of his system, so 1) his body doesn’t have those addictions anymore and 2) he forgets what the foods taste like (and that he loved them so much).

This diet has been the best change we could have made for Nate.