Sunday, August 28, 2011

First Day of School

The Update

So...still no ASL interpreter for E. We met Friday (8/26) with the District Director, Asst. Director, Principal, Teacher (we love her), the SLP (Speech Language Pathologists for those not in the know :-)). Of course they started out with...we think we're meeting her needs. To which I replied, if you don't have someone in the room who can interpret her and who can interpret classroom lessons into a language that E can use back, then no you're not. After much back and forth in which the Teacher and SLP admitted that they don't sign 100% of the time, do not know her vocabulary (despite us giving them a list last year that they haven't mastered), that she only really signs to them and doesn't verbalize....the district offered to have the situation evaluated. I asked for what and they made noises like they really want to make sure that the teachers really aren't meeting E.'s needs, but what they really want to know is whether E really signs.

There were many fun moments (like when Big Daddy had the Director so wound up (which is very unlike him...go Tiger Dad!) she looked to the Asst. Dir and asked her to explain what the Director clearly didn't want to answer), but my favorite was when I took the pre-written letter out of my file, signed it and passed it over saying, okay, we're done here, we'll let you know about any evaluation, but in the've our permission to speak with Xattorney at the Ohio Legal Rights Service (OLRS). That was a nice moment. Then we signed our agreement to the OT/PT goals (we had them reviewed by our private therapists) and clearly wrote our disagreement to speech language (which only have receptive goals listed....somehow E's supposed to magically acquire expressive goals) and requested expressive goals for our next meeting.

So, we're waiting to talk to the OLRS attorney and will move from there. I'm guessing we have to play the delaying game, but maybe not as we have documentation from our private SLP and ENT (which is on the way) stating E's use of sign as her primary form of communication. Given that and the admission from the staff (which we have on tape....highly recommend recording all IEP meetings), and the fact that without someone to interpret in E's primary form of communication they're denying her access to FAPE (she can't access the curriculum without an interpreter), I'm not sure they have too strong a leg to stand on. Will update as we go along.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Gearing Up

Tomorrow, Big Daddy & I meet with IEP team. In May, we didn't sign the IEP because it was singularly lacking in the necessary accommodations to fit the Little Peep, specifically her language and communication needs. Little Peep signs. A lot. Like knows all the signs from the Signing Time series (yes, Baby Signing Time, Series 1 & 2, Sing & Sign, the Practice Time). We've moved on to others even though they're not as good.

The problem is that she needs language now, not just vocabulary. So in May we asked to have someone proficient in American Sign Language in the room. We were denied with the following excuses:
  • Her fine motor wasn't good enough (crap, she does approximate some signs, but what better OT practice than finger spelling the alphabet - which she does)
  • She does have expressive or receptive language (duh, that's why we need someone to model it for her)
  • What if she's never verbal; how will she communicate in her community? (yes, like people who are deaf or have hearing loss can't function)
  • The speech language therapist for the school offered to cut out more pictures from the ASL dictionary to past around the room to help teachers/aides/therapists (I said that was teaching vocabulary, not language and doesn't demonstrate language in a natural way. I didn't expect to have to explain that to a trained professional)
  • We were offered to have the teacher of the child with cochlear implants come in for 15 minutes every day to "talk" to E.
We've spoken to other therapists, our private therapists, language people, advocates, and others and we're working on going through the process to get her what she needs. It's just crap that most of the push back and (ignorant) excuses came from the director of the program, who didn't understand that if 33% of E's signs are being missed, it's their fault.

There are other issues with the school/process that we're working through, but think they deny to see which families will continue to fight. Given we're exhausted from all the other things in a day, I'm guessing many families don't go through the appeal process because they trust the "experts." I know our E responds to those who are proficient in ASL and know it will help her develop her language and communication even more. And Bob help the district because I'll take them to the mat to fix this no-brainer for her.