20 Questions: 1st IEP-2nd Meeting

20 Questions: 1st IEP-2nd Meeting

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Troy and I, and the rest of Lyra’s IEP team met for a 2nd time to continue where we had left off during the meeting the week before.  Like the first meeting, this one also lasted 3 hours, but it was a much more productive 3 hours.  We were able to get the IEP completed, other than a few corrections in the wording that we’re still working on.  We were successful in getting Braille written into the IEP, including pre-braille goals and direct Braille instruction. We were also able to get most of our list of accommodations and modifications included.

One of the reasons this meeting was so much more successful than the last was because I had done a better job of preparing and organizing all my notes, lists and other documents.  The other reason it was successful was because of my strategy.   I did a lot less talking overall and I focused more on asking specific questions.  By asking more questions, I was making them(the district) defend their statements and opinions.  I think it was effective because it proved how weak their defense really was.

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I’m not going to copy and paste ALL of the meeting summary.  I’m just posting 20 questions that I asked them during the meeting, followed by their response.  I’m also including a few extra statements here and there, that were important to the discussion.

As with my last post, for the sake of privacy, I took out most of the names. But because I want you to know which side was saying what, I had to use a little more than XXXXX for the names.   All of the people attending the IEP meeting as representatives of the school district will have the letter D plus a number. So for the 4 of them, we have D1, D2, D3, and D4.  Everyone else, friends, advocates, or service providers from Lyra’s IFSP team, will have LT plus a number…LT1 and LT2.    Clear as mud? 😛  Okay…here are the questions and answers.

1. In reference to a statement in the Academic Performance section of the draft IEP that says, “She points to pictures of objects when requested by the teacher.”  I asked, ” At what distance did she achieve that task?”

  • D1 stated: “It was done on a slant easel at a distance of approximately 18 inches, but Lyra would have been allowed to move in as close as necessary to identify the picture.”

2. I asked D2 if she could again explain to me what it meant for a child to be functionally blind.

  • D2 stated:  “From LMA, the last page, the student is functionally blind if the student will use tactual media (which includes Braille) as a primary tool for learning to be able to communicate in both reading and writing at the same level of proficiency as other students of comparable ability.”

3. “Are you saying if a child is a visual learner, then they do not need Braille?”

  • D2 stated: “No I am not saying that. I’m saying that while Braille is not required to enable Lyra to access the preschool curriculum, we agree that it is important to introduce Lyra to pre-Braille activities…and so umm I believe we’re in agreement that we don’t have any reservations about introducing her to the pre-Braille activities and that’s reflective in the proposed goal.”

4. “It seems you’re looking for evidence that Lyra needs Braille, is that correct?”

  • D2 stated: “What we’re looking at is her sensory channels, and to what degree she relies on one more so than the other. And actually what we see within the LMA is that she is clearly multi-sensory, that she clearly needs and does utilize all 3 sensory channels and benefits from having all 3 of those sensory channels made available for her to learn about her world.”

5. “What age is it appropriate to begin learning Braille?”

  • D2 stated: “It depends on the individual student.  As far as determination of literacy media, we’d want her to be old enough to have a clear cut reading and writing and right now, Lyra, due to her age, she’s not yet reading and writing. So in Lyra’s case, it will be determined when she’s more and more becoming a reader and writer.”

6.  “Will Lyra be exposed to learning the alphabet and print when she’s in preschool?”

  • D2 referred to someone in the first meeting stating that “typically, it’s the late 4-year olds, turning 5, that’s when the true literacy activities are more frequently taught.”

7. I asked D4, “What exposure to print will Lyra have at this level, during her first year of preschool?”

  • D4 stated: “They do mini-activities with exposure to print, right now they’re making a mothers day card and the children, if they can write it, are writing out mom or we write it in yellow and they trace it. “I would say every day she’s going to have exposure to print in preschool. They learn the sound, there’s a little animated guy, P is Polly panda and there is a little song that goes along with that. They learn about other words that start with P.  They do an activity with the letter, like with the letter P, it would be in front of them and they could trace over it and then glue popcorn on it because it starts with the letter P. If the children are able to write it or trace it, then they’ll do that.”

8.  “So she is going to be learning print this first year, but am I understanding this correctly, the decision not to provide her with Braille instruction was based on her age, not her visual needs?”

  • D2 stated: “Clearly we consider a child’s visual needs, but we also want to consider their age and developmental level.”

9. “If a child has ANY vision, does that mean they’re a visual learner?”

  • D3 stated: “Not necessarily.”

10. “At what point do you determine that? Is there a cut off?”

  • D3 stated: “That’s where the functional part comes in and typically, the Learning Media Assessment and the Functional Vision Assessment would be done by the same team, so that’s…we’re at a little bit of a difference there because …the district used information, from a Functional Vision Assessment from another agency and typically both of those documents would be done by one agency.”

11. “How did visual fatigue play into your decision?”

  • D3 stated: “I think we will see that as she gets more and more into a preschool situation, than what we’ve seen just in the very few days.”

D3 asked me, “Are you thinking that Braille is going to be her primary learning media?”
I stated:  “No, but I’m thinking that in order for her to be equipped to make the best decisions as she gets older and be proficient, she needs to begin learning it now, just as she’s learning print now.”

12. “What amount of visual fatigue would a child have to have before you believe that Braille would be appropriate?”

  • D3 stated: “They would have to be seeing a great change during the time that she’s here. I think visual fatigue is definitely something that we expect and something we watch for.”

D2 asked LT1: “Did you put frequent breaks, was that in the Functional Vision Assessment?”

LT1 stated: “I have found that she does tire quickly and she tends to want to do something else.”

D1 asked LT1: ” How long can she go?”

LT1 stated: “If it was something that she was really interested in, 10 or 15 minutes. If it was something that was really challenging her vision, I have usually found that within 5 minutes she would be done, either she would be finished with the task or you could tell that what she was doing she wasn’t looking at, she was now doing it tactually.”

13. “I am confused, how does monitoring her needs satisfy the evaluation requirement to ascertain her future needs?”

  • D2 stated: “I’m not comfortable saying we have an instrument that can project next year, the year after, 4th grade, middle school, for Lyra.”
  • D3 stated: “The LMA and the Functional are what we are required to do to evaluate.”

I stated: “There is nothing in the LMA that says that you did an evaluation of her future needs for Braille.”

D3 stated: “We don’t know what her future needs are going to be.”

I stated: ” You’re saying you don’t know if she is going to require Braille in the future, so because of that, this box needs to be checked Yes.”

D1 stated: “Okay and yes it can be checked yes…and it can also be checked no and we can put that disclaimer, that due to her age, explaining, yes and no.”

LT2 stated: ” The law clearly states that it should automatically should be checked yes, unless you can show that she will not need it in the future. So if you’re 100% sure that you know that she won’t need it, then go ahead and mark that box “no,” but if you’re not sure, and there’s question, then the district should provide that Braille automatically. The only time you should mark no is again, if you can prove otherwise.”

LT1 stated: “From what I have heard, it sounds like the district is willing to say, Yes, at this point and that the goal is, one of the goals is looking at the pre-Braille.”

14.  Troy asked, “So are we in agreement that we’re going to mark that Yes, and then write goals based on that and the PLEP?”

  • D2 stated: “I don’t think we’re disagreeing. I think we’re all agreeing on the value of exposing Lyra to Braille as well as print and I don’t think that’s an issue.  I don’t think anyone has indicated that that’s not something we would agree to. “

15a. ” Okay, so we can check it yes then?”

  • D1: Nods

15b. ” Was that a yes?”

  • D1 stated: “Yes, it’s fine with me.”

16. “Okay so, what’s the real issue here? Why are you so afraid to check it yes, do you think that it means that you’re going to have to provide everything in Braille for her?”

  • D2 stated: “I guess just that word “required” and the thing with the LMA, the determination of functional blindness.”

17. “Are you saying if a child is NOT functionally blind, they will never have a use for Braille?”

  • D3 stated: “If today they’re not functionally blind.  If she would come in tomorrow and something had happened and she does not have the ability to reach out and get things visually, does not have the visual abilities that she has right now, then we would call an immediate IEP meeting.”

18. “Do you think that a child can learn Braille as easily in the 4th grade as they can in preschool…learn it as easily at the 4th grade level as they can at the preschool level?”

  • D3 stated: “No”

19. “Okay, so in order to be proficient at it, and accepting of it and be able to learn it well, doesn’t it make sense to begin teaching it when she’s younger and more receptive to it?

  • D3 stated: “I don’t think there’s a problem with showing her ABC’s in print and Braille.  I don’t think that’s an issue at all.  I think when you go to actually teaching her Braille and not being just exposure to it, we’ve got, with a child as visual as she is, very often we’re going to see a child reading it by sight, scrubbing the letters, both are very very bad Braille habits and produce more than likely, poor Braille readers.”

20. ” As far as bad habits, wouldn’t you agree that those habits are much easier to get rid of or avoid with a 3-4 year old as oppose to a 10-year old?”

  • D3 stated: “Right, yes, I would agree with that.  Exposure, I have no problem with whatsoever.”