The Move Up Plan

Last week we had a great IEP for June. Its her "move up" plan for Kindergarten (which reminds me I still need to register her for kindergarten!) June has a mild loss in one ear and a moderate to severe loss in her other. Before every new IEP I go into major research mode. I read forums and articles and ask parents whose children who may be remotely similar to my child. Mixed in with all of this information I have feelings. There are gut feelings, guilt feelings and peaceful feelings. The key to figuring it all out is trying to find those peaceful feelings. 

June's new Elsa wig she saved her money for. I only have to repin it 50 times a day. :)

I'm starting to feel like I'm a little bit of an expert at IFSP (Individual Family Service Plans) and IEPs for children under five since we create at least two of these a year but whenever there is a "move up" plan where one of my girls is being passed on to a different team I get a little nervous. Will this new team understand my child's needs? If I speak out will I end up being "that mom?" When it come to special needs I have found you just have to be "that mom" sometimes but there is a way to be "that mom." I hope when they see me coming they think positively about me and say, "Oh, she's "that mom!" in an admiring positive way and then think "She has good ideas!"

One of the great blessing for this successful IEP was the head team leader writing the plan. It was June's speech therapist, SP, who had never done a plan for a child with hearing loss. Now this may sound like a bad thing but instead she researched her huge heart out to figure out what was best for June. In many cases June would end up on a 504 plan because she does not need any academic help. A 504 plan lists accommodations needed such as using a speaker system of some sort, preferred seating and other physical accommodations. She was recently tested in speech and received high scores for her age so she was well within the realm of where her speech should be so she would not necessarily qualify for educational support.

June and her younger sister, Ada, on Easter.
Yes, that's my necklace but she really wanted to wear it so...

I explained to her SP that I would really like June to be on an IEP. Here's where the peaceful gut feeling came in. I don't really know that June would need the IEP for this year but I certainly know in the future there are things I'd like her to have if needed such as one on one testing for tests such as spelling tests. June is a lip reader and it is very important she sees the speaker's face. This may not always be easy for a teacher to accommodate when she has several other students to speak too.

The SP contacted June's home school and began the conversation about what services can be given to June. She along with myself contacted June's teacher consultant, TC, for hearing impaired provided by the county to find out what works best with children like June. Upon the SP's request the school district sent out a person who heads up the Learning Consultants within our district to observe June in her preschool setting so they could give input when creating her plan. June's teacher filled out a questionnaire about June as a student. I was very happy with all the people who were contacted for input.

Following is the input I contributed along with some accommodations I wanted them to consider. 

"June's top good quality would be empathy. She is very kind and generous. Her favorite things to do is draw and play with doll figurines where she can make up stories on her own for hours. She's always good for a laugh to cheer someone up and has a grateful heart. At home she can make up a good deal of excuses of why she cannot pick up her toys but I hear she is very helpful at school. She is always smiling. June is bright and catches onto things quickly if she has the confidence. Her confidence is definitely lower due to her hearing loss. She can become frustrated if you don't understand her and this is mainly because of a smaller vocabulary rather than her annunciation. At home she will act frustrated but I believe at school she just won't ask or reply if she isn't confident of what she is saying. 
Even at home in a quiet environment she will ask me to look at her when I talk so she can understand. June has done well this year advocating for herself in the classroom. Her teachers have given her the opportunity to have a voice and listen well. My hope is for that in the upcoming years that she will continue advocating for herself especially in a classroom with a kindergarten environment when things are louder and a more chaotic. My hope would be for June to have a classroom that is helpful in allowing her to hear by classroom placement and the sound field in use. I'd also hope for teachers and/or another professional to encourage June in a kind way to advocate for herself and to learn how to take care of situations that may arise that may be harder to learn in. We are fortunate for the great care Early On education has been for June. She has a solid foundation of adults she trusts and has learned from."

Oddly enough, when June was observed by the Learning Consultant, LC, she acted very outside the norm for her. For the past six weeks June has been resisting attending school more. She's an introvert and would prefer to play alone at home. I believe this is because she is starting to feel apprehensive about kindergarten. She has been looking forward to being in Elementary school for two years and now that its looking like its her turn she has decided against it. The morning the LC came she melted down when I left. Then she sat in a corner and sucked her thumb. WHAT?! June has never in her life sucked her thumb. She would not participate in class in any way and sat alone and acted distant. It took two more mornings of observation before the LC saw the real June! OY!

This is a fun sticker to get from her Dance instructor.
Its harder for June to truly be a good listener but she does a good job in class.

We got through that and on the day of the IEP I felt peace. Well, peace about the IEP, not about the fact that two of my kids were at home with the stomach flu. Greg and I only knew half the people gathered to create June's final IEP so we weren't sure what to expect. What I found were people who didn't even know June advocating for her like crazy. They were very detailed about what they wanted in the IEP and were wise about where things should be placed so both her general ed teacher and specials teacher would read it. I left that meeting very happy and full of peace!

Not everything on June's IEP is what other parents may think is best and that's always something that I need to be o.k. with. We are doing what we feel is best for June right now. No regrets. We may change our minds or look back and see what we could've done differently but we are doing what we know is best for her and our family at this time. I fortunately have a few parents who I trust for input for June and even when I do not follow all of their recommendations I am fortunate to feel supported by them. We are grateful for them and look forward to what is to come for June next year!

So, there you have it! If you have a child with hearing loss and would like to know the details of the plan for input I will gladly share.


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