Life with MS & EDS

February 3, 2010

Kindergarten Transition Meeting

Tomorrow is Little Sister’s kindergarten transition meeting, so in typical Ivy fashion, I started stressing about it a week ago and am now extremely stressed.  I spent most of my spare time gathering papers, writing notes and documenting her progress and lack of progress in key areas — cognitive, gross motor, fine motor, sensory, etc.  I have a one pager now with things I think they should know.  I even ran it by my mom-in-law who is a kindergarten teacher.  She gave me good questions to ask them, such as what will they do if she refuses to go to an assembly or gets upset during one, will they let her use a slant board or sit on a pillow, etc.

I find the whole evaluation process depressing.  It forces you to focus almost exclusively on your child’s negatives and lack of progress.  I want to acknowledge fantastic progress she has made in some areas, but that could threaten her access to services.  Therefore I’m forced to emphasize all of her problems and that has me in the dumps.

When I don’t have to compare her to other 5 year-olds, I think she’s doing pretty well, but throw her in with her peers and reality hits.  She’s still at least a year behind in most motor areas and her sensory issues keep intensifying (not that schools seem to care much about that, but it makes home life rough.)

Right now I need to focus on getting her services and an IEP.  Based on Section 602 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (P.L. 108-446), there are 13 areas of disability that qualify a child for services and an Individual Education Plan (IEP):

  1. autism
  2. deaf/blind
  3. deafness
  4. hearing impaired
  5. mental retardation
  6. multiple disabilities
  7. orthopedic impairment
  8. serious emotional disturbance
  9. specific learning disabilities
  10. speech or language impairment
  11. traumatic brain injury
  12. visual impairment including blindness
  13. and other health impairment

Per the statute:

(3) Child with a disability.–
“(A) In general.–The term `child with a disability’ means a child–
“(i) with mental retardation, hearing impairments (including deafness), speech or language impairments, visual impairments (including blindness), serious emotional disturbance (referred to in this title as `emotional disturbance’), orthopedic impairments, autism, traumatic brain injury, other health impairments, or specific learning disabilities; and
“(ii) who, by reason thereof, needs special education and related services.
“(B) Child aged 3 through 9.–The term `child with a disability’ for a child aged 3 through 9 (or any subset of that age range, including ages 3 through 5), may, at the discretion of the State and the local educational agency, include a child–
“(i) experiencing developmental delays, as defined by the State and as measured by appropriate diagnostic instruments and procedures,
in 1 or more of the following areas: physical development; cognitive
development; communication development; social or emotional development; or adaptive development; and
“(ii) who, by reason thereof, needs special education and related services.

During our meeting with the committee last year, we were told that we’d have to focus on “other health impairment” since nothing else on the list really applies.  Although she wears DAFOs, her hypermobility is not significant enough to qualify as an “orthopedic impairment.”  Previously when fighting for services, like at the 3 year-old transition meeting, all we had was a nebulous diagnosis of “hypotonia” which is really a symptom, not a diagnosis, but at the time we didn’t know what was causing it.  Now at least we have a diagnosis – Little Sister has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.  We have a letter from a reputable genetics specialist stating that she will need life-long physical therapy to improve strength and avoid onset of arthritis.  It also documents her physical weaknesses.

Great, you’d think!  I have a detailed evaluation of Little Sister’s physical condition and a statement that therapy is necessary.  However, as we were told last year, this could all be written off as “medical” and not “educational.”  If they do not see enough evidence of this impacting her ability to learn, they don’t need to provide any services.  They’ll do their own evaluation to determine this.

Our problem is that there is a lot Little Sister can do for a short amount of time, but then won’t be able to repeat it even moments later.  She fatigues very quickly.  Another problem we had during the 3 year-old assessment was that they looked to see if she could do something, not the quality with which the task was accomplished.  Yes, she may be able to do a fine motor task, but they tended to ignore that she was struggling or not doing it appropriately.  She may have picked something up, for example, but many fingers were involved and her grasps were immature.  If this same standard is used during her upcoming evaluations, we’re in trouble.

Schools also do not seem concerned about her sensory problems, which if you read about our experiences in Disney World, you’ll know have become quite significant.  These are not going to come out during an evaluation process.  They have to be witnessed during regular life experiences.  Just wait until they have a loud assembly, a fire-drill alarm goes off, or she simply doesn’t get her way!  I’m told she is generally fine at school, but I did get to witness a typical Little Sister melt-down at school last week.  While I was sad that she was screaming, crying, and stamping her feet, I was secretly very glad her teacher got to see it.  What caused the tantrum?  There were two chairs of one style and one different one.  Another boy sat in the different one and she wanted that one, so she threw a fit.  That evening at her dance recital she refused to participate until the color dot she wanted to stand on was given to her.  We see this all of the time at home.  She threw a huge tantrum (that word probably isn’t even strong enough) a few days ago because Daddy gave her a bath instead of Mommy.  She doesn’t quite care that doing her baths is much harder for me.  Apparently it’s my job and changing the routine did not meet her approval.  I could go on, but you get the picture.  She probably isn’t going to be one of the “easy kids.”

Sorry for going on at length about stressing in advance of the meeting!  It’s not a good thing to stress during Girl Scout cookie season.  After a few thin mints, I thought it was better to write than continue eating!!  I know not much is going to happen tomorrow.  It’s a lot like opening arguments.  It’s a time to lay out the case and learn the process.  Then they’ll schedule evaluations, after which the real battle, I mean fun starts.

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5 Comments »

  1. I’ll be thinking happy thoughts and having some chocolate on your behalf tomorrow.

    Comment by posey — February 3, 2010 @ 9:16 pm

  2. Hi

    We emailed probably a year back, I wish I had been on my computer yesterday to post something positive before your meeting! How did it go? I would love to talk if you’d like to, email me with your phone number & I’ll call you!

    Gretchen
    I’m the pediatric PT who works in the school system in Wash. Although we are in different state it’s a federal law! that we work with your daughter!! And hopefully in a positive way!

    Comment by Gretchen — February 4, 2010 @ 1:12 pm

  3. Hi Gretchen! It’s great to hear from you again. The meeting is in 2 hours, so good timing. I’ll let you know how it goes. I know this is just the entry, so we can get a feel for things and then know what we’re up against. I’d love to pick your brain for ideas, thanks!

    Comment by mseds — February 4, 2010 @ 1:36 pm

  4. […] the kindergarten transition meeting went well.  They are setting up tons of evaluations and observations and we likely won’t get […]

    Pingback by Exciting News on CCSVI from BNAC « Life with MS & EDS — February 4, 2010 @ 10:36 pm

  5. […] • Blog: Kindergarten Transition Meeting « Life with MS & EDS […]

    Pingback by EDS Alert Newsletter No. 36 « EDS Alert Newsletter — April 5, 2010 @ 11:33 pm


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