The Penny

Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.

[Wednesday, October 13, 2010]

I Did Good

I have a little student that I met four or five months ago, when she was transitioning from the birth-three program to the preschool program. We were all set for her to be a Pals child, meaning that we would provide her IEP services in whatever preschool her parents placed her in, rather than having her come to a special education preschool. Wouldn't you know it, she got kicked out of the preschool due to losing her potty-trained status (got sick over the summer and developed hardcore potty fear).

We're now six weeks into the school year and the child has had no IEP services, because the special educator, who is the case manager, is new to preschool and is new to Pals, and she hasn't followed up on things. She'll send an email or leaves a message, and if no one responds, she just lets it go. Sometimes it's really frustrating that I'm not the case manager, although it's great when you work with a good special educator.

Technically, we couldn't have seen this child even if she had been in preschool, because she wasn't registered with the county (you have to do that before an IEP can be implemented), because the special educator didn't tell mom to do that. Ugh.

So our assumption has been that the child would go to the special education preschool at the local elementary school, since the family couldn't get her back into the private preschool. No one expected the potty training saga to drag on this long. Never underestimate the willpower of a nonverbal 3-year-old!

On Monday, the mom registered the child at the local elementary school and told someone there that she doesn't want their preschool. She has a good reason: she works late afternoon into the evening, and she loves her morning time with the child. The special education preschool is four days per week, and she wants more than one day with her child. I think it's great that mom is pushing to keep the child home a couple of days a week. But she was ready to deny services for the child, which I didn't think was great. Like I said: nonverbal 3-year-old.

Anyway, so that statement by mom set off the email chain. The special ed preschool teacher told us what she had said and asked what was going to happen at our IEP meeting on Wednesday (that would be today). The Pals special ed teacher (new girl) didn't know. Eh? Not an answer I can accept! I got fed up with people not getting down to brass tacks with mom, so I called her Monday evening. I knew she was a reasonable person, because I had worked with her to transition the child from IFSP to IEP, and she was great.

After a long chat, we got some things in motion. She has canceled on us several times now and avoided returning phone calls, and I learned that it was because she was nervous to face everyone after being kind of flaky up to now and because she honestly didn't know what she wanted for her child. Totally understandable! I explained what to expect at the meeting and gave her the names of other preschools to try, including one co-op that I adore. I worked it out to have home visits for "parent training," just to keep the child on an IEP until she's in preschool again and can have direct services. Parent training is currently being piloted by one special educator, so I was glad to get that approved. So we got all of that worked out Monday and yesterday, I modified the IEP document, and we were able to have a quick, smooth meeting today. And the mom shared that the super-awesome co-op I recommended has ONE space left in the 3's class! And they definitely do not require potty training!

The was nice. But here's the part that made me feel good:

The mom said she had been stressing herself out on Monday, not knowing what to do, feeling guilty for saying what she had said at the local elementary school, and that my phone call was exactly what she needed. Seeming kind of embarrassed, she said, "Actually, you were an answer to prayer."


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