Last Tuesday morning Chris and I had a meeting at Simon’s school to discuss the results of his recent re-evaluation for services (a state mandated 3-year eligibility in the area of Autism Spectrum Disorder).
This was a bit different than a regular annual IEP (Individualized Education Program) meeting where we take a look at how he’s been doing and set goals/accommodations for the next year.
Over the last month or so we filled out evaluations (GADS – Gillham Asperger Diagnostic Scale and a parent questionnaire/case history), testing was done at school by the school psychologist (Kaufman Assessment Battery For Children-II and Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement-II), and his teachers also filled out evaluations (GADS – Gillham Asperger Diagnostic Scale).
Around the table at the meeting was the director of Simon’s program, his speech teacher, the regional autism coordinator, the school psychologist, and his third grade teacher.
For two hours we talked about Simon and reviewed a nine-page assessment packet detailing the results of the testing and observations. We laughed, we agreed, we expressed fears, we questioned, we discussed, we giggled at things he does both at home and school, and we shared stories. We celebrated his strengths and brain-stormed ways to help him move forward with his weaknesses.
As I sat, listening and participating and looking around the table, this is the thought that came to mind: I am so thankful for the people sitting around this table. They see lots of kids. They’ve got lots of things on their plates, including attending meetings like this one with parents. They’ve got personal lives and issues. They were all fully present, fully participating, and fully advocating for Simon.
One of my favorite pieces of the assessment came from the “relevant background” section:
“Simon’s teachers note that he is a kind-hearted, conscientious student. He is very sweet and affectionate to those he knows well, he is eager to please, and he is very methodical in his work completion. He enjoys reading and has good memorization of factual information and rules. Simon has a big smile and has excellent fine motor skills. He enjoys talking about family trips and his sister.”
Over the nine-pages there’s a lot of documented challenges for Simon. Without going into details, as a parent there’s a lot of information to get lost in – numbers, averages, recommendations, suggestions, etc.
What I’m simply so thankful for is that the focus of the people around the table was on how we can help Simon continue moving forward – building upon and making the most of his strengths and finding ways to help him gain ground in the other areas.