This past Monday Philip had his annual IEP meeting, his first at his new school. For those of you not yet initiated into the world of special education, IEP stands for Individualized Education Program. For the first time, Philip made his own educational desires heard. This is what he spelled on his letterboard to indicate his goals:
I want to open my time to some science in regular class. Dare to wax (increase, get better at) talking with typical kids. Read books for my age. I want to read on my own. Type a lot more. Right my behavior. Meet better lessons in remaining subjects.
A week before Philip's official IEP meeting, I got together with his teachers and presented Philip's goals to them. We discussed Philip's progress, strengths, and challenges. What was really neat was that Philip's teachers came up with a plan that incorporated all of Philip's goals! In addition to his specials, next year Philip will be mainstreamed in science. The remaining classes will be in the autism classroom but will follow the grade level curriculum so that if he is further mainstreamed in subsequent years, he will be on track. Philip's education will no longer be mostly rote and repetition as it was at his ABA school. It will challenge his intellect and reasoning. Even his reading will not be based on how he reads aloud (as he is "non-verbal"- or more accurately non-speaking). He will be allowed to read silently and then be tested on his comprehension. Independently manipulating a book is a goal they will also work on. In math, they will work on using math in practical ways while still hitting grade-level objectives. In speech, Philip already has student volunteers from general ed to come into his class to converse with him on his letterboard and ipad. This will continue. I think Philip's school is really a model for inclusion with gen ed and special ed students mixing on a regular basis. Philip's teacher said that after reading Philip's letter (click here to read) to his classmates in music, even more kids wanted to volunteer as communication partners in their class. This past weekend two 7th grade girls who help in class, threw the whole class and their families an end of the year party at their home. It was a great time! At the end of the party, Philip thanked and spelled to his hosts about the party, "I LOVED IT."
The way IEPs work is that there are goals set which have measurable criteria with a method and schedule of data collection to determine whether a goal is met. There are benchmark or intermediate goals along the way.
Philip's annual goals are:
Reading: After reading/ listening to a 10 sentence passage, Philip will accurately respond to 'wh' questions based on each passage.
Philip will accurately identify the main idea and answer 5 'wh' questions related to a 1-10 sentence passage.
Mathematics: During real and contrived purchases, Philip will select the correct dollar amount, and use a calculator to find the total paid over two or more consecutive purchases.
Speech/ Language: Philip will generate 3-5 word phrases to share an opinion, make a relevant comment, or reciprocate a question in order to maintain a conversation.
Motor Skills: Using a keyboard, Philip will copy a list of 5 familiar words, given one visual point prompt at the beginning of each word.
I am very excited about Philip's education. I know he will learn a lot and will enjoy the stimulation of interesting subjects and a productive day. I hope more schools will move in the direction Philip's school has taken because everyone benefits when each student has access to quality education as well as the chance to participate in a diverse society.
Philip and his classmates at the End-of-the-Year party