We had an IEP meeting yesterday. Another IEP meeting in an endless series of IEP meetings. Yesterday's meeting was for Ike, and then there's another meeting for him in February, and then one in March for Noah, and I think one more after that, to finalize his schedule for high school.
(Tonight is technically Ezra's middle school orientation, but we're going to skip it. We already know everything about the middle school and how things work and where the IEP meetings happen.)
The purpose of the meeting yesterday was to go over Ike's reading and writing levels and finalize the academic parts of his IEP. It was an unusually tense meeting.
The district imposed new rules for who can receive certain accommodations for standardized testing. Ike meets every single criteria except one: He's been receiving services for dyslexia for one year instead of the required two. So he'll get extra time, but nothing to help him read or decode the test questions. I thought back to kindergarten, when I begged his teacher to have the school's reading specialist come and observe him, to look at his mixed-up writing and spelling and his struggles with basic sight words.
Wait and see, the specialist told me. He's still really young. He still has plenty of time to catch up.
Three years later, the "learning to read" portion of elementary school is ending and the "reading to learn" part is about to begin. He's still over a year and a half behind his peers.
The special education team understands the urgency and is pushing for the maximum amount of service hours, while the rest of the team is worried about his time away from his peers and the scheduling headaches his pull-out time creates for the general education classroom.
"The schedule is not Ike's problem," his special ed teacher said at one point. "The schedule is our problem, and it doesn't get a say in his IEP."
I like her a lot.
We decided to surprise Ike with a laptop for Christmas. I previously told him he could get one once he got his reading back on grade level -- a super unfair expectation in retrospect, but we didn't fully understand the scope and depth of Ike's learning issues at the time. Plus, a computer could really help him, with the spellchecker and text-to-voice features and dyslexia-friendly fonts and whatnot. (You know, all the testing accommodations he'll qualify for...next year.)
On Christmas Eve, Ike made me promise that if there were any presents under the tree that we didn't personally put there, we would tell him. He really wanted to believe this year, again, somehow.
And so I wrapped the laptop in different wrapping paper and hid it under the small tree in our living room, away from all the other presents under the big tree. I printed out a label so there would be no handwriting giveaway. We all pretended to be surprised and baffled by the gift, which was the very last to be opened.
Ike was shocked and thrilled and for a moment, convinced that magic did exist, after all.
Next month is another meeting; this one will go over the school psychologist's evaluations and assessments and add social/emotional goals to Ike's IEP. She has one more in-class observation to complete, but dropped plenty of spoilers yesterday.
"The rating scales for social anxiety and depression are super high," she admitted. "He's also incredibly bright and very much a perfectionist, so basically school must feel like torture for him most of the time."
Ike started therapy last week. We didn't need the rating scales to tell us the obvious. Everybody looked relieved.
A few days after Christmas, Ike stormed into the kitchen with a roll of wrapping paper in his hand. He held it out accusingly, without a word. It was the same paper I'd used for the laptop. I'd hidden it deep under the bed in our guest room, and planned to sneak it out to the garbage on trash day. He'd crawled under the bed in search of the cat and found it.
We tried to stammer out a flimsy cover story but it was too late. The jig was up, he was onto us, and the final wispy embers of his belief in Santa were extinguished for good.
He still really likes the laptop, though.
(He also really really really REALLY loved his Elf Jr. The Musical Jr. performance. He's already signed up for the spring show, which is Beauty & the Beast Jr. "I just hope there's no kissing," he told me.)
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💯🔥👍🏆🤩" - Ezra
Oh my God how long IS this" - Noah