Well, I keep learning all the time. My son was evaluated to see if he qualifies for educational assistance on his IEP. What came up was that he has weaknesses in a few areas, but he’s not struggling enough to qualify for academics to be written into his IEP. Not only that, but the OT (occupational therapist) who has been working with him on his small motor planning delay, informed us that he has caught up enough that he no longer qualifies for therapy. All in all, these are great outcomes, and I am thrilled that my little man has come such a long way. He now, officially, no longer has an IEP.
I think back to when he was 2 1/2 and first entered the world of the school’s special education system. He was very cute, very busy, had a vocabulary of maybe 10 words, had extreme difficulties transitioning between any activities, tantrumed and melted down several times a day, was still very much in diapers, and according to some standardized tests he was given, was developmentally delayed in 5 out of 6 areas examined. He had a bunch of issues that I learned are because of his senses not integrating properly in his brain. They made his life much more difficult than the child whose brain integrates the environment properly.
With early intervention: 3 years of special education preschool that included speech therapy and physical therapy, private speech and occupational therapy, and very involved parents, our little man has come a very long way. More recently, we added energy therapy and vision therapy.
Since the little man entered kindergarten, he’s had an increasingly difficult time dealing with school’s academics. And I don’t know what took me so long, but this fall (as second grade brought nightly choruses of “I hate school! It’s too hard!”) I asked the school’s Occupational Therapist to complete a sensory survey on him, so I could see if his difficulties could be exacerbated by his SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder). It turns out that yes, there are times during the school day that his motor is running too slow, causing him to not be able to take in and properly process what he’s seeing and hearing. (Mom’s finally beginning to really get a clue). Fortunately, there are a few simple things he can do to help himself- and we’ve already implemented 4 of them: having him sit on a special inflated cushion that sits on his chair, having a pair of gloves handy if he needs them, moving his desk, and giving him a fidget (a ball that he can squeeze). There are a few more things I’d like to see implemented, and we’re working on it.
One thing I learned is that if your child has problems with sensory integration, it will most likely fall into your hands to make sure they have a proper sensory diet during the school day. Teachers and even Special Ed. teachers are not focused on sensory problems. They react to poor academic performance and to students who act out in class (disrupting it). There are many children with sensory integration problems who still manage to have average academic performance, and who, instead of acting out and disrupting class, will shut down. They still need to have their sensory integration problems addressed throughout the day. I feel very fortunate, that my son’s class teacher and Special Ed. teacher are both very open to helping my son with his sensory issues. This is not always the case.
The little guy has come a long way. Regarding his sensory issues, he takes care of them when he’s home. He jumps on a mini trampoline or crashes onto our sofa. He hops on his Hippety Hop ball or bounces on mom’s large therapy ball. He makes sounds and noises, and wraps up in a soft, fleecy blanket. He copes in a myriad of ways that he can’t do when he’s at school. He’s still receiving help in school from the Special Ed. department, and still needs more therapy on his visual system (expensive, and insurance won’t cover it). But he’s growing up to be an awesome little dude (who’s actually not so little these days)!