Friday, November 19, 2010

John Michael's first IEP... and turning 3!!!

Behold... John Michael at age 3!

Happy 3rd Birthday
to my most cuddly, loving, good-natured, awesome
Super Chromo Boy!

This boy seriously ROCKS that extra chromosome!

So much has happened since my last blog post!
On Monday, November 8th, we had John Michael's first IEP team meeting. I had spent months preparing for it by going to an IEP training seminar, transition workshop, one-on-one parent/peer counseling for information and ideas, got help and tips from my blogging friends, visited some preschool sites and prayed for a good fit for him.

Backing up a bit, the transition meeting in September was the first step and went well.  We had his therapists (ST, OT, and teacher), service coordinator, and school district representative all at our house.  I served Starbucks scones and coffee (not required, but just nice...) and I showed a slide show I'd made of John Michael's first 3 years. I'd also prepared a parent report with photos, my thoughts on John Michael and what he means to our family, a run-down on his strengths and abilities, areas where I have concerns and he needs help, and finally, what I want for John Michael in the future. It was a lengthy 5 or 6 pages long. Doug also wrote a very meaningful letter (one-page... guys can say it in less words :-) ). The letter and parent report were to help in the fact that decisions were being made about John Michael and the school district hadn't had the benefit of really knowing him.

Shortly after the transition meeting, JM's assessments were scheduled at a local preschool site where I met with the inclusion teacher, speech therapist, adaptive PE teacher and school psychologist. I was asked many, many questions about John Michael while he had his play-based assessments in the same room. He did very well. You never know how your child will react in a new environment with new faces, but he shined :-)

A couple weeks before the IEP meeting, JM and I were given the opportunity to visit the 3 school sites that had full inclusion classrooms. The classes all offer breakfast in the morning and lunch before they go home, served "family-style" where they learn to socialize around the "dinner table". Each of the classes has 20 students, 5 of whom have some sort of special need and are mainstreamed into the class. Each of the sites had at least one child with Ds, one actually had 3 kids, 2 of whom we knew!

The 2nd school site we visited is where we both felt the most comfortable. He had a great time on the playground, he painted a masterpiece for me, sat down for storytime, and met a little girl who I know will take good care of him at school. She reminded me of a younger Greta, who was very nurturing to John Michael. I love that! We also really liked the speech therapist at that site and the adaptive PE teacher is a man, which will be a nice change for him.

The actual IEP team meeting went very smoothly, although it lasted a solid 3 hours! My dear friend, Lisa Lindsey (Sheridan's mom), was our most awesome note-taker, typing away on her laptop while the IEP was going. Besides Doug, Lisa and I, others in attendance were the inclusion teacher, preschool teacher, speech therapist of new school, adaptive PE teacher, school psychologist, our infant program speech therapist, service coordinator and school district representative.

I brought homemade cranberry bread and pumpkin bread and a box of Starbucks coffee. :-)

Again, not necessary, but very much appreciated.

Each person who did an assessment on John Michael gave their report (which I'd requested and received a few days prior to the IEP meeting to be prepared...)

John Michael was recommended for a full inclusion program.

The following are John Michael’s IEP Goals for November 2010- November 2011"  (I am including them since many of our buddies are approaching 3 and having their first IEPs.  Keep in mind that IEPs are "Individual" for reason and these particular goals are written specifically for John Michael.  This is just in case anyone would like to see how they are written or for some ideas.  Each goal is broken down into two smaller steps which I didn't include here.  If he meets his goals before next year, new goals will be written.  Words in italics are my comments.)

Self-Help: Within one year, given a regular toileting schedule, student will pull down and up his pants, sit on the toilet for 1 minute 80% of the time. He already can sit on the toilet for 1 minute, but will need help with pulling down and up pants.

School Behavior: Within 1 year, given materials and a teacher directive, student will use the materials appropriately and stay at the activity for 6 to 7 minutes 80% of the time. He is interested in many different activities – this addresses focus.

Pre-Academic: Within 1 year, given manipulatives and a directive, student will give “just one” “one more” “two” and “all” 80% of the time. Right now he doesn’t get the concept of “one” and will give you “all” when asked for “one” of something.

Pre-Academic #2: Within one year, given Playdough, student will roll a ball, a snake and cut out a cookie cutter 80% of the time. Pre-fine motor, builds muscles and strength in hands and fingers.

Expressive Communication: Given objects, pictures, or situations, John Michael will produce 2-word sentences with appropriate use of simple pronouns, verbs, and prepositions 80% of the time. He speaks up to 4 word combinations with minimal use of pronouns, verbs, and prepositions.  Two nights ago, he said, "Where are you, Mom?" (prompted by Anna) and I totally understood him!

Receptive Comprehension: Given minimal prompting from staff with an auditory directive with objects or pictures, JM will follow a 2-step directive accurately 80% of the time. He currently follows 1-step directives and retains one essential element in a sentence.

Articulation: Given visual and auditory stimulation, JM will produce initial and final consonants in CVC combinations accurately 80% of the time. He usually drops the ending consonant and produces a CV or CVCV sound combination.

Gross Motor: Within one year given practice sessions involving a tricycle, JM will be able to pedal a tricycle 5 feet without assistance for 3 consecutive sessions. JM can put two feet on pedals.

Gross Motor #2: Within one year given activities relating to jumping, JM will be able to jump 5 consecutive times on the mini-jogger with spotting from the teacher 80% of the time. JM attempts to jump but only lifts one foot at a time.

This post took more brain cells than I can spare right now, so you can see why I haven't kept up with my blog!   

Last Sunday, John Michael turned 3 and we celebrated very simply by having a birthday donut.  He blew out 2 of 3 candles and we spent the day playing and having our Christmas photos taken... So, I"ll leave you with this image of my handsome 3 year old!

Feel free to email me if you have any questions about our IEP.


  1. Well done, Monica! I am sure you built bridges with your preparation and treats!. I am very impressed by how it went, you should be very happy with his placement. I'll be linking to you on the blog, its been a week, and I haven't written about Christina's IEP yet.

  2. Happy birthday, John Michael!! From all of your fans in Oregon:) We love your sweet smile and cute chubby cheeks;)

  3. good job monica...what an awesome picture of him blowing out his candles! happy birthday big boy, you are growing so much

  4. I LOVE that birthday picture!!

  5. Is it weird that I got so excited seeing cvc in there? I teach using an orton gillingham method for reading and spelling and six months ago I didn't know what CVC or VCCV words were and now they're basically my life. ahaa

  6. Happy 3rd Birthday to JM!!! This post is amazing and full of so much helpful information...I'm going to make notes or copy it...I have a feeling if I don't I'll be wishing I had two years from now! :)

  7. happy belated 3rd birthday john michael! your upcoming school experience sounds wonderful! can't wait to read more about it :)

  8. Happy Birthday to John Michael! Thank you so much for sharing your experience about his first IEP. My son is a couple of months younger than John Michael and this post will help me. John Michael is shining like a star, what a great IEP! Thanks for sharing.

  9. Monica- I couldn't find your email, can you email me when you have a minute? Thanks!

  10. How did you get to the IEP without threats, tears, and a cadre of lawyers on your side? We'll be into December before we have ours and I don't even think that will be the end of it. I'm slightly jealous at how good of an experience it was for you. You'll have to share your secret.

  11. I just found your blog - I love it. I am a special education teacher of multiple disabled elementary children. I spent almost all of Thanksgiving reading your blog. JM is wonderful and so is everyone in your family.

  12. JM's IEP looks great! It's so great that he'll be going to an all inclusive school environment. I'll be looking into that for Matthew come Kindergarten. Right now, Matthew is in a class of about 11 in Early Childhood Special Ed. There are 3 model students in the class.

    Happy Birthday JM!! And have fun at school!

  13. WOW! I am seriously impressed with the preparation you went through for JM's IEP and preschool search. Being from rural Iowa we just kind of went with the flow, but had great support along the way when our daughter was beginning preschool. We've had a great school experience for the most part. She made honor roll earlier this fall for the first quarter of 7th grade!!