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IEP Meeting - Not Sure How to Ask for Some Things


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Hello,

I'm working on our parent concerns letter for our meeting next week. This is our first year dealing with an IEP and I'm pretty lost! I do have the IEP Toolkit, but I'm not sure how to word a lot of things.

Our son's teacher emailed me a list of questions to complete prior to the meeting. It is pretty thorough, but long. The last question is about our parental concerns. Do I answer all of the questions and submit that in the form of a parental concerns letter, or just answer the last with a "please reference the attached parental concerns letter?"

More specific questions directly related to our concerns:

We have an autism and IQ evaluation scheduled for him in June, which is separate from the evaluation the school did for him. They did not find him to be autistic, just social/emotional delayed and they didn't do IQ testing since I didn't request it at the time. Do we need to mention this at all?

He is an excellent masker at school. He does exactly what he is told and doesn't push back. He also doesn't speak up if he is anxious, uncertain, in sensory overwhelm, or if having a social conflict. He has a meltdown after school instead. So far, I've put in the letter that he needs help with self-advocacy and knowing how and when to speak up. How else can I address this in the letter?

His primary complaints about school are: doesn't like the gen ed teacher in the class, the work is boring, he wants more playground time, and he is constantly afraid of breaking a rule he doesn't know about. We are concerned that they will want to place him in K, even though we know he is ready for 1st grade. We think he *might* be gifted, since he enjoys 2nd & 3rd grade science projects, and is doing 1st grade math at home. (He is only going one day a week to this program; I am working with him at home otherwise.) We know he will be bored out of his mind in Kindergarten. My thoughts are to: not mention the gen ed teacher, since I don't know why he doesn't like her (he refuses to talk about it, although, based on one interaction, I think she is strict and embarrasses him), state that we want him placed in 1st grade and have examples from his work at home to show readiness, request he do testing to show 1st grade readiness (can we ask for that?), bring work samples from home, state that he has anxiety and that if he is not misbehaving or giving pushback, that is a sign of how anxious he is? Any other suggestions for this?

We've stated multiple times that if he is being silly, or precocious, he is actually upset and angry and dysregulated. They seem surprised every time, commenting on what a joy he is to have. I sent an email to the special ed teacher in his class with concerns one day after he got out of class and immediately started running away from me, and she gave back a reply along the lines of, "Thank you for your input, we were honestly surprised by his behavior at pickup, he isn't showing any issues in class, uses words appropriately, enjoyed being here, etc." Should I address this in the letter? Do we need a diagnosis of anxiety or autism before we can do anything about it?

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Hi!  Thanks for reaching out.  The first time dealing with an IEP can be very overwhelming.  I'll address your questions in order.

I would suggest showing cooperation with their system by answering all the questions.  But I really like your idea of answering the last one with "please see attached parent concerns letter."  You can kill two birds with one stone that way!

The school has an obligation to test in all areas of "suspected disability."  So it's not just up to you to request IQ testing.  If the school had concerns in that area, they should have included it in their evaluation.  Besides, when your IQ testing comes back, if the school doesn't want to accept that testing, they can do their own at that time.  Side note:  Did you try to have the autism and IQ testing you have scheduled for him paid for by the school by requesting an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE)?  If you aren't aware of this procedure, feel free to reach back out.  Sometimes parents prefer to get their own evaluation, and that's fine; I just like to make sure they are aware of the IEE option.  Another side note:  I don't know what the timing of your IEP meeting is, but remember that after your outside evaluation results come in, you are entitled to ANOTHER meeting.  You will need to send the results to the school and request a meeting to go over them.  These new results can change whatever was previously decided upon in the original IEP meeting.

Your paragraph regarding self-advocacy raises another question:  What kind of testing did they do in the area of sensory issues, if any?  If that is an area of suspected disability, it should have been evaluated.  If it wasn't, ask for it and if the school declines, ask for an IEE in this area.  With respect to writing a concern about self-advocacy, you can basically state what you stated in this paragraph.  You could also add examples of what he does or doesn't do and what may trigger him.  I would suggest reaching out to the general education teacher to see if he/she has any examples.

With respect to grade placement, just to be clear, if I'm reading your post correctly he is currently in Kindergarten and you are worried about the school retaining him?  That is something done very rarely these days and must have the data to support it.  In other words, the school will have to provide the reasons and data for retention - you don't have to provide the data that he should be allowed to advance.  Some states even have laws/policies/guidelines on retention, so you might check your state department of education's website.  Side note:  the potential for "gifted" status should automatically come up on the school's radar based on the results of standardized testing.  However, if you suspect he is gifted, you might want to reach out to the school and ask about their procedures - when do they determine this, how, etc.

Schools like to downplay behavior when they don't want to deal with it.  You should address it in your letter, as you should address everything for which you have concerns.  This doesn't mean that the school will act on all your concerns, but you have started a paper trail.  To answer your specific question, you don't need a diagnosis to receive specialized instruction or accommodations.  However, you DO have to show a need for it.  The behavior has to impact his ability to access the general education curriculum.  Unfortunately, since you are not in school with him to witness his behavior, you have to rely on the school staff to document it and sometimes they don't want to.

The good news is that you are being a pro-active parent very early on in the process.  Keep your eye on the situation and know what your rights are.  Reach out to this site anytime you are unsure.

 

 

 

 

 

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Are you in a state that mandates gifted services at school?  If you are, the school can (and should) be assessing for this.  As far as communication goes, autism causes issues with communication so moving forward with an autism eval should definitely be done.  There is a resource I posted on here about Ross Greene.  His protocol helps with communication - the idea behind it is to work with a child & solve problems.

Curious if the school looked at pragmatics & social skills.  These are the 2 areas where kids like yours tend to need help.  I've found that many schools don't look at this so they miss that a student needs help with these.

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On 5/13/2023 at 11:38 AM, Carolyn Rowlett said:

The school has an obligation to test in all areas of "suspected disability."  So it's not just up to you to request IQ testing.  If the school had concerns in that area, they should have included it in their evaluation.  Besides, when your IQ testing comes back, if the school doesn't want to accept that testing, they can do their own at that time.  Side note:  Did you try to have the autism and IQ testing you have scheduled for him paid for by the school by requesting an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE)?  If you aren't aware of this procedure, feel free to reach back out.  Sometimes parents prefer to get their own evaluation, and that's fine; I just like to make sure they are aware of the IEE option.  Another side note:  I don't know what the timing of your IEP meeting is, but remember that after your outside evaluation results come in, you are entitled to ANOTHER meeting.  You will need to send the results to the school and request a meeting to go over them.  These new results can change whatever was previously decided upon in the original IEP meeting.

Your paragraph regarding self-advocacy raises another question:  What kind of testing did they do in the area of sensory issues, if any?  If that is an area of suspected disability, it should have been evaluated.  If it wasn't, ask for it and if the school declines, ask for an IEE in this area.  With respect to writing a concern about self-advocacy, you can basically state what you stated in this paragraph.  You could also add examples of what he does or doesn't do and what may trigger him.  I would suggest reaching out to the general education teacher to see if he/she has any examples.

With respect to grade placement, just to be clear, if I'm reading your post correctly he is currently in Kindergarten and you are worried about the school retaining him?  That is something done very rarely these days and must have the data to support it.  In other words, the school will have to provide the reasons and data for retention - you don't have to provide the data that he should be allowed to advance.  Some states even have laws/policies/guidelines on retention, so you might check your state department of education's website.  Side note:  the potential for "gifted" status should automatically come up on the school's radar based on the results of standardized testing.  However, if you suspect he is gifted, you might want to reach out to the school and ask about their procedures - when do they determine this, how, etc.

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you for taking the time to go through and answer everything! I'll try to add some clarity by answering your questions in these areas. Also, a little more background: he is going to a special PreK program (our state has several, for kids ages 5 and under) one day a week, and is going to turn 6 this summer. I have been doing K with him at home (I already homeschool our second, older child who is autistic). We entered the school year a couple of months ago, after requesting testing in October of last year; it was completed and the IEP finished in March.

We and the school do not have any IQ concerns, although he came back mild delay in the cognitive domain on the BAT. After interacting with him during testing and based on our reports of him at home, the team thought it was more likely that he under performed.

We did not request an IEE. I didn't know it was an option at the time of testing. At this point, we're just going to proceed with the private route. I did not know we could request another meeting afterwards; that is good to know! 

Sensory: the school OT spent about 45 minutes with him; his qualification report just reports the test type as "motor". She noted his issues with scissor and pencil grip to me, verbally, but didn't in the report. She also noted to me, verbally, that he needed repeated breaks and would hide in the ball pit for a bit, then come back and continue to work with her. I had warned her at drop off that he needed to warm up and might hide or refuse to talk. The report says, "[Child] appears to be age appropriate for fine motor development and visual motor skills. He will not qualify for school-based OT services at this time." The teachers keep telling me that they have no problems with him in school, that he does great. He wore his headphones once in class, starting at drop off, then took them off and left them off about halfway through the day.

He is not in K, he is in a PreK based program. We're concerned that they might want to just shuffle him up to K rather than 1st grade. The IEP team told me they don't do gifted screening before 2nd grade, and don't have any gifted programs before then. They offer pullout programs for gifted kids in 2nd or 3rd grade and up. We can request IQ testing, but it is discouraged before 1st or 2nd grade, can't recall which. The IEP team did say that if he is gifted, the gifted program teacher will go to his classroom every couple of weeks and give his teacher differentiated instruction for him and maybe work with him one on one a little bit. He is verbally precocious, does 1st grade math (at home), and 2nd - 3rd grade science (at home). The work they've been having him do at preschool (coloring, cut and paste, letter/number tracing, name writing practice, find the difference in a row of 3 things, etc) he's been doing for several years both at home and in a private preschool program 2 years ago, and he is thoroughly bored.

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On 5/14/2023 at 5:58 AM, JSD24 said:

Are you in a state that mandates gifted services at school?  If you are, the school can (and should) be assessing for this.  As far as communication goes, autism causes issues with communication so moving forward with an autism eval should definitely be done.  There is a resource I posted on here about Ross Greene.  His protocol helps with communication - the idea behind it is to work with a child & solve problems.

Curious if the school looked at pragmatics & social skills.  These are the 2 areas where kids like yours tend to need help.  I've found that many schools don't look at this so they miss that a student needs help with these.

Yes, we are. After writing my reply to Carolyn I looked up the specifics. I don't know if they do any standardized testing in the PreK program. But the state requires indirect services from K - 2nd grade, 3 hrs direct services 3-5th. Middle school and above do not have direct or indirect services.

We actually love Ross Greene at our house! I'm in a book club for The Explosive Child, led by one of the Lives in the Balance advocators. It's been a tremendous help.

I don't know if they specifically looked at pragmatics/social skills. He might be at a further disadvantage because he is able to memorize and repeat massive situational scripts (gestalt language processing, to some extent, I think) and so he sounds like he is much more mature than he really is. In other words, I'm not sure that they even picked up on it during the evaluations. We had a private speech/lang eval done last year, and they determined that he did not need services. He didn't display some of the speech issues that he does at home when thinking/stressed/excited. He was so focused on doing exactly what she wanted him to do that he outperformed for his age (according to the SLP).

Here's a list of all the assessments they conducted: PLS-5, Oral Peripheral Exam (OPE), SLI checklist, Vision/Hearing screener, BDI-3, DAYC-2, BASC-3, VINELAND-3, Natural environment observation, family interview, ECEC checklist, Prong I, Prong II, OT eval for Motor, GARS-3, ADOS-2. 

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You could still ask that the private evaluation you have already scheduled be an IEE and have the school pay for it, or get reimbursed if you pre-paid.

I think you need to add a sensory evaluation IEE.  It doesn't sound like what the OT person did covers all his potential sensory issues.

You need to ask the OT person to put EVERYTHING in her report.  Telling you verbally is ridiculous.

I don't have any expertise in the area of asking for advancement in grade or gifted services.  My best advice would be to look at your state department of education's website and to give them a call to find out more.

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