Finn’s Annual IEP: Easy Peasy Mac ‘n Cheesy

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.

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6 Comments on “Finn’s Annual IEP: Easy Peasy Mac ‘n Cheesy”

  1. Alyson Mccray Armstrong
    May 24, 2012 at 6:08 pm #

    I love this!! Cullen’s IEP went easily as director of special education screaming at me to get myself an attorney;)
    I am so happy that you have a great speech therapist who sees Finn as Finn and not a diagnosis. Even more than that I am so thrilled you found a great preschool for him

  2. Holly F.
    May 24, 2012 at 6:33 pm #

    So glad things went well this time around!

    On a side note: I work for my state’s Early Intervention as a Case Manager/Service Coordinator/whatever your state calls it…lol. I searched the job out after I gave birth to my child with Down syndrome.

    I am SHOCKED the amount of times I hear a therapist say “retarded.” I used to bite my tongue (until it bled) and in the name of keeping a professional atmosphere, I did not correct them. No more. I’m fed the hell up. The last time I heard a speech therapist say it, I jumped all over her. I wish more of my parents jumped on them too.

    I am starting grad school in August. I will be a speech therapist a few years after that. I can promise you that I will never say “retarded” or “Down’s kid” and I will see each child in a positive life, full of potential and worth. My downfall will be wanted to cuddle too much. 😉

    My son’s speech therapist, whom I love, has a theory about our kids. She said that history assumed people with Ds did not have the IQ to speak and/or speak well, but in all her years of treating children with Ds, she has seen how smart they are so IQ, cognitive function, or lack of learning should have nothing to do with it. She thinks they are either apraxic or apraxic-like. They know what they want to say and intend to say it, but there is a disconnect from the brain to the actual forming of the word/sentence in their mouth.

    I can see it with Trent sometimes, he wants to say something so badly, but he simply can’t move his mouth in the correct manner. It is like he want his mouth to go one way and it goes the other. Our therapist has gone very slow getting him to consistently make individual sounds to learn how to control his mouth and tongue. We are now working on combination sounds. Other therapists we have seen didn’t do that…they spent hours trying to help him say full words. Not only did he not make progress, he refused to make any sounds and just wanted to cuddle with me during appointments.

    Look up apraxia and see if any of it fits Finn. 🙂

    • Lisa
      May 24, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

      Holly, I’ve definitely heard that theory as well – that basically, apraxia IS the speech issue that kids with Ds have.

  3. Cheryl Tierney Kinne
    May 25, 2012 at 6:06 pm #

    so glad it went well. We have our meeting coming up in June (right after Luke turns two). Just wondering when you started doing speech 2x/week. We just started speech a couple weeks ago, 2x/month. I wonder if it is something I should ask for weekly. I know all kids are different, but just trying to see what others have done. I think we will drop some PT because he is walking now and meeting motor goals pretty well.
    I like our Speech Therapist a lot so far, he seems to really enjoy Luke. He has a grandson with DS and he seems to have a soft spot for Luke 🙂
    I was just at the DS center at Texas Childrens Hosp. last week, the audiologist kept saying Down’s kids, I didn’t say anything, but you’d think she’d know better.

    • Lisa
      May 25, 2012 at 11:32 pm #

      Cheryl, different parents have different feelings about early intervention. I’m in the minority and found that, at least for us, early intervention was mostly a waste of time. We had Finn do PT for about 2 years and finally quit because it seemed to me that he was going to reach his milestones the same way my other kids had, just on a different timeline – and no amount of therapy was going to change that. We did ST and OT once a week for a while, as well, when he was still in the EI program, and those, too, seemed largely like a waste of time, and I felt it was extremely intrusive and inconvenient to have people coming over several times a week to work with him, when I saw very little benefit. I honestly attribute very little – if any – of his achievements to therapy. When he turned 3 and we were transferred out of early intervention and into the school district, we agreed to ST twice a week, a half hour per session. It’s been a positive experience, not so much because I think it’s teaching him to communicate (I think his emerging language skills come mostly from having all these people at home who talk to him and sing to him and communicate with him as we would any typical child), but because (a) we have a pre-existing and very positive relationship with this particular speech therapist, and (b) it’s allowing Finn to experience being in a classroom setting (albeit very small) and to interact and engage with other kids his age, to share, take turns, and follow directions from someone other than his parents.

  4. K_Whitbread
    May 26, 2012 at 7:53 am #

    I am a special education teacher and and professor in a teacher preparation program and I’ve been working with children with Down syndrome for almost 30 years. The past 10 years, I’ve been conducting research on reading and children with Ds. Studies (and my own experiences) are showing that exposing pre-schoolers and kindergarteners to early reading instruction can actually accelerate speech development. The old way of thinking was to wait on reading instruction until the child could correctly form the speech sounds for the letters/ words but now the thinking is that waiting is detrimental for both reading and speech. I just started a blog on this topic:

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