Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My first IEP Experience

I wish I had the time/energy/brain power to update more often so that maybe this right here blog might be more exciting/interesting for y'all. However...that is not the case.

Last week, I had the privilege of attending my first IEP meeting. For those of you who are not familiar with the term IEP, it stands for Individualized Education Program/Plan. Basically, each child who recieves special education services has one of these, and it is tailored to that child's needs based on his or her abilities. A meeting occurs once a year to discuss the child's progress (or lack thereof in some cases), strategies for improvement, and sometimes, the child may be dismissed from special education services because he or she is doing so well academically and no longer requires special education services :)

So my host teacher had an IEP meeting scheduled for 2pm for Christopher* who, if I remember correctly, was EBD (Emotional Behavior Disorder) before the IEP took place. During the IEP, it was discussed to change it to Autism, as the teachers and others present felt it applied better to Christopher. Changing the disability on the IEP does not change services provided for the student. So anyway, 2pm comes around, and we were all in the "life skills" room, as I have begun to call it, celebrating another students birthday with cake and entertainment (the birthday girl was born in Mexico, and showed us some, uh, rather risque salsa moves? I'm not really sure what kind of dance style it was. BTW, this student has Down syndrome and is fluent in both Spanish & English! Impressive!) The lead teacher, Mrs. M, celebrated with us for awhile before she had to get ready for/attend the meeting in the other classroom (that the class is blessed to have.) I hung out in the Life Skills room until Christopher's parent arrived because Mrs. M was going to come get Christopher and I when they were done discussing the real-teacher-and-important-people-stuff. Welllllll it was about 2:30 when Mrs. B (a parapro) had gone to the other classroom and come back, and I asked her if Christopher's parent was here yet. She responded "Yeah, she's been here." No big deal, I thought, Mrs. M just probably forgot to come get us. So Christopher stands up to go to the other classroom (the student CAN attend the meeting if the teacher/parent wishes) and I stopped him before he opened the door, because I knew that Mrs. M would have come to get him if needed. So he turned around and walked back to his seat, but the last few steps he made a point to stomp. Hmmm.

So after a few minutes I went over to the classroom where the meeting was being held and Mrs. M appologized that she forgot to come get me. Chris's parent had decided it would be best if he did not attend the meeting. So I grapped my notebook & started to take notes, listening to Christopher's mother go through each of his "milestones." Y'ALL. This child...oh my GOSH. He has seriously been through hell and back. Up until the age of 4, he had been hitting all the normal milestones; he was walking at 9 months and reading at 4. Around the age of 4, I guess his parent(s?) felt it necessary to have him evaluated for ADD/ADHD. He was diagnosed with ADHD and put on Ritalin. After awhile, he was then diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. He then began having grand mal seizures..one of which was so bad that he was unconsious afterwards for...wait for it...wait for it...TWENTY EIGHT HOURS. His mom said that when he woke up after those 28 hours, he was the child he is today. And let me tell you about the child he is today...

When he was in 1st or 2nd grade he had an AWFUL episode during which he was so defiant/angry/innapropriate/whatever word describes behavior bad enough for the school to call an AMBULANCE. The ambulance took him to Macon where doctors ordered for him to spend 72 hours at Central State Hospital. If you are not familiar with Central State...well, that is probably a good thing. Lets just say it is currently in the process of being shut down because it was in no way beneficial to anyone who went there, especially Christopher. While there, Christopher picked up on all the usual cuss words, derogatory terms for racial groups, and other obscenities. All of this has a lot to do with the following part of my story, I promise.

Back to the IEP meeting. While listening to the teachers talk about plans for Chris, Ms. B, came into the room to get/do something. She told us that Christopher was upset because I had told him that he wasnt to come into the classroom yet. Great. We werent quite aware of HOW upset until Mrs. M walked over to the Life Skills room to tell him he could come to the other classroom. At that point, he replied "Good. I dont want to be in here with these f***ing n***ers" (all of the parapros and some of the students are black. And I only know this part because the parapro's told me.) He followed Mrs. M back to the classroom where we were having the meeting, and immediately we knew it was about to hit the fan. He dropped the F bomb almost every other word, and when Mrs. M asked him a question, he replied "None of your damn business. Leave me f***ing alone." Ohhhhh SHOOT. He also called Mrs. M a B word to her face, and I'm sure there were tons of other insanely inappropriate things said, I was just so shocked/scared/uncomfortable that I dont remember all that was said. He also threw papers off of his desk and onto the floor, and when exiting the classroom to go home with his (saint of a) parent, he slammed the door so hard that I jumped, even though I knew it was coming. Any harder and the glass in the door would have shattered.


Quite an experience to say the least. Yet another reason I wanted to record my experiences. Because doctors obviously dont know exactly how to help Christopher because he has characteristics of many disabilities, I feel pretty confident I won't come across many students like him throughout my teaching career.

There are so many other things I could say about this student's background and other details that happened, but clearly I have already made a novel out of this, so perhaps I will save that for another post. Hope you guys are still awake going to keep reading my ramblings after this one :)

Peace & Love

*Name has been changed to protect child's privacy.

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