We had an IEP meeting this morning, a pretty big one. It was the first of TWO meetings planned for the transition to middle school (heyyyy there, fellow olds!) and this was also a "re-evaluation" year, which involves a metric shitton of testing and assessments to determine exactly how Noah's disabilities are impacting him at school.
Of course, in my paranoid, neurotic brain, you can go ahead and replace "how" with "if," and then spend a few sleepless nights practicing the imaginary arguments you're going to have when the IEP team decides your child no longer qualifies for any services or accommodations, bye bye, have fun in middle school, watch out for the grizzly bears, good luck to ya.
(That did not happen, by the way.)
We knew going in that Noah did very well on all of the individual tests and assessments. His grades this year have been outstanding, and barring that one unfortunate debating debacle early in the year, behavior reports describe him as focused, hard-working and an all-around delightful, well-behaved kid.
In some schools, yes, those positives can be spun into a "it's time to reduce services/increase mainstreaming/drop to a 504 plan" kind of discussion. Our school, thankfully, was fully "NOT TODAY, SATAN. MIDDLE SCHOOL'S A-COMING. BATTEN DOWN THE IEP HATCHES."
Thanks to the glory that is standardized testing, Noah technically still falls "below grade level" for math, something the team feels is more of a failure on the testing side, rather than an accurate gauge of his actual math skills and knowledge. So several more testing-related accommodations have been added going forward. Everything else in the IEP is staying put, even stuff he doesn't use all that often anymore (noise-canceling earmuffs, OT breaks for vestibular input, etc.). Keep it all in, touch nothing until we see how the transition to middle school goes, if it ain't broke, don't fuck with it.
We also walked out with a significant increase to psychological services, to focus on social skills and peer interaction. And while the team felt Noah's level of improvement meant Extended School Year (ESY) options weren't 100% necessary this year, as soon as I mentioned how much Noah loved the social skills ESY program he attended last summer and that honestly, we thought it made a huge impact and we'd love for him to do it again, they were like, oh, okay, DONE.
Jason sat next to me, and I heard an audible sigh of relief from him at that point. The summer program had been the thing he'd been most worried would get taken off the table, and the thing he'd been mentally preparing to fight for. No need. He's in.
After our last meeting, when we initially discussed all the academic and psychological testing that's required for a "re-evaluation" year, I left feeling a little overwhelmed, like we were going to have to basically "re-prove" Noah's diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. (Well, ADHD as well, but kinda hard to deny that one when a simple medication switch in the fall [Concerta to Vyvanse] made a hugggggggggggggely noticeable difference practically overnight.) But ASD is the diagnosis that justifies the majority of his protections and accommodations at this stage, and given how many years we went being told that nah, it's just Sensory Processing Disorder, he's just quirky (or some other related label that doesn't get you squat from schools or insurance), I still sometimes worry about having my high-functioning kid fall through the cracks...simply because he IS so high functioning. For which I'm grateful! But still! He's this high functioning because we've been fighting this fight since toddlerhood, to get him services and help and support.
And I know we will continue to fight the fight, even when -- like today -- it's not really an actual "fight." It's not us vs. the schools or the insurance company, or us vs. who Noah is and who he will always be. It's all of us, together, working to carve out a unique, successful path for one uniquely wonderful individual.