Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Eligibility Meeting

So, Harlie's eligibility meeting was this morning. I was a little anxious. I've heard some bad things about special education services in my county. Plus, I had no idea what to expect.

Well, I am very happy to tell you that it was as wonderful of an experience as that kind of thing can be. There were six of us total (counting myself) and everyone was very nice (including myself). We went over the reports from the speech and physical therapists that evaluated her over a month ago. I have to say that I was very impressed with the detail in the reports. And they seemed to very much remember the evaluation, which I thought was good.

They showed me her scores from the "testing." The average range for kids is between 85 - 115. Her Total Language score was 69, Auditory Comprehension was 73 and her Expressive Communication was 71. Clearly all lower than the average range. I know why, of course, so the numbers shouldn't bother me. I know she's smart, she just can't get it out of her head yet. But seeing the numbers, being in a room discussing her challenges, and hearing "this states that Harlie is eligible to receive special education services" just made me so sad. I am so happy that Harlie is doing so great. She's far exceeded every one's expectations. But there are moments when I just wish that things could have been different. Better. Normal. Like what most people get to experience. But clearly, that is not the way it was supposed to be. Anyway, so I cried a little bit. Which made me feel so stupid. I tried to hide it, but then they handed me a tissue. Part of it was sadness, but part of it was relief that we all seemed to be on the same side, wanting the best for my sweet girl, and that I wouldn't have to fight for services for her. Wow.

And as an added pleasant surprise - she also qualified for physical therapy, too! So, the speech therapist recommended that she receive two 30-minute sessions per week and the physical therapist recommended one 30-minute session per week. That's way more than I expected. I was just hoping for one 30-minute speech therapy session. So, I'm thrilled. Now the tricky part will be scheduling all of this therapy! Hopefully she will be able to receive therapy at Murphy's elementary school, which is at the end of our street (walking distance). That way Brandy can walk her down vs. me having to drive her some where else.

Oh! And the physical therapist that was there suggested she get some adaptive seating during her speech therapies due to her spinal issues. She said that when she observed her last month that she noticed that she "side sits" and that she's clearly compensating for her curved spine and rotated hips. So, she said it's possible that sitting in a seat for a longer period of time might not be possible for her. WOW! That totally makes sense! Not to mention that my speech therapist has had some difficulty keeping Harlie in one place during her sessions. That would totally explain her "ants in her pants" behavior!!!! WOW! So, they said a physical therapist will have to observe her speech therapy session to see what they think. They said if she's having to work extra hard to sit in a chair that it might not allow her to concentrate on speech therapy because she's uncomfortable or just working so hard to stay balanced. Seriously - WOW!

And they said that we need to have an occupational therapist evaluate her at some point, too, so we can address those areas if needed. The only occupational therapy she's gotten so far has been concentrated on feeding. So, they want to see other areas of OT like fine motor skills. Aren't you impressed? Because I am. Very thorough they were. So, now she has an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) that spells out specific goals we want her to accomplish. And it will be reviewed in six months.

Anyway, beginning a few weeks into September, Harlie will have a total of SEVEN therapy sessions per week! Yes, in FIVE days she will have SEVEN therapy appointments:

2 one-hour feeding therapies
1 one-hour speech therapy
2 30-minute speech therapies
1 one-hour physical therapy
1 30-minute physical therapy

And somehow I will try to keep two half-days per week untouched for preschool. Ugh! I really don't know how I'm going to juggle it all. And to make things even more complicated I am trying to get Murphy into a regular swim class that meets twice a week. Oh, and I'm training for a half marathon so I have to run three week days per week (long runs on Saturday) - no joke. I guess I will just see how it all works out, and then go from there. They said that I should hear from the school therapists by the end of next week to find out what times they are available. Until then, I'll just keep my fingers crossed that they have times that work out for us.

So, I will leave you with a quote I found in my calendar the other day. I'm thinking that it fits pretty well with today's post.

Don't ask for a light load, but rather ask for a strong back.

Ahhhh, this is the life!


Janis said...

Glad it went better than expected, that is always a nice treat! I am sure you will handle it all - Super Mama!!!

Beverley said...

Ahhh...yes the tears at being told what you already know. It does hurt doesn't it {{{Christy}}}

Grandma said...

I know that this sounds strange but someday (and I hope I am around to see it, you and Tom will be sitting on your back deck having a beer and looking at each other and saying " is quiet, the kids aren't home, we are all alone with nothing to do..." till then...I wish you all te luck in the world to balance jobs, kids, therapies, lessons and family time. Love to all.

Lindsay said...

Wow - such great news!!! Congrats on all the good surprises and good people you were able to work with. As always, I'm impressed with how you juggle it all and you know we're always here if you need any help!

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad to hear how well the meeting sounds like everyone you met with truly wants the best for Harlie and I'm so excited as you all move on to the next phase of! I can't imagine how hectic it's going to be with all of the therapies, but I'm so glad to see that you're still trying to squeeze that time in for yourself..that's so important. (and you've been a great motivator for me-guess I have to start running! ugh!) Hugs and good wishes to you all!xoxok

Susan said...

I'm so glad Harlie's IEP went well. It's interesting to hear how different it is in different parts of the country. Here the children attend a developmental preschool 2 hours a day 4 days a week and therapies are pull-out. It suspect it makes it easier on the parent. It's great that Harlie's getting the services. Good luck juggling your schedule.

Kim said...

Glad you didn't have to fight yet another battle for getting her the care she needs. Hooray!

Ah, what's more therapy appointments in the grand scheme. It's not like you have anything else to do... (entirely kidding, in case you didn't get that. I know you can do it, but my God, woman, you're going to be BUSY!).