Yesterday we had Finn’s second annual IEP meeting. It was completely devoid of all the emotion and melodrama of last year’s debacle, thank goodness.
We declined all assessments this year because Finn is only receiving speech therapy, and we’re only interested in continuing with speech therapy at this point, so that eliminated several “team members” who would have been part of the process had we agreed to assessments to obtain more services for him. His speech therapist was in agreement with us on declining assessments – even a speech assessment – since he’s only been seeing her for about six months. She did a sort of informal assessment to document a baseline for him, and that was it.
I LOVE Finn’s speech therapist. She is so warm and personable, and one of the few people we’ve dealt with concerning Finn in a clinical setting who doesn’t just see him as a set of deficits and deficiencies. She really seems to see him as a whole child, and she stays very focused on seeing him in a positive light. (Plus, you know, she’s never slipped and said “retarded” or called him a Downs kid, which I am sad to say a couple therapists we dealt with in the past did.) When we sat down for the meeting yesterday, the first thing she said was, “First, I want you to know how much I enjoy working with Finn. He’s a great little kid, and I really have a lot of fun working with him.” Awesome.
Also there were the school principal (Finn attends ST at the same public school at which Joey and the girls attended pre-k and Kevin attended middle school), who we met at Finn’s IEP meeting last year only because she happened to be filling in as interim principal at that other school last year (so she remembers the awful tension and high emotions from the last meeting), and the girls’ former pre-k teacher as the required general ed teacher. So it was very relaxed and friendly.
Really not a whole lot to report. Finn has met one of the three goals set for him last year, but like I said, he’s only been attending speech therapy since October. The main thing is that he is definitely making progress in all areas: expressive and receptive language, cognition, attending to tasks and following directions, sharing, engaging with the SLP and other kids, etc. His speech teacher is very enthusiastic about the strides he’s made and seems convinced that he will continue to progress.
I asked her what she knows specifically about Down syndrome and speech issues, and why some kids with Ds remain non-verbal. She said that she believes that most kids with Ds who remain non-verbal probably have a dual diagnosis. I don’t know if that’s true. I think there are a lot of theories out there, but probably nobody knows for sure why speech comes easier to some kids with Ds than others. And I don’t know where Finn will end up with regard to speech and communication. I try to be realistic in my expectations: I know he will probably never speak as clearly or prolifically as his peers who do not have Ds, but my hope is that meaningful communication will become the norm for him over time.
Anyway, he will continue with speech therapy twice a week with this same speech therapist for the rest of this school year and starting up again after summer break, and he’ll also attend preschool twice a week (independent/not on his IEP).
I’m happy with how things went.