By Jove, I think we’ve got it! An IEP, that is. Yes sirree, we’ve got ourselves an IEP and a pending placement. I feel as if I’ve achieved something miraculous and impossible like slaying a dragon, spotting a unicorn, stumbling upon a field of four-leaf clovers, and trapping a leprechaun and tricking him into revealing the location of his pot of gold–all at the same time!
I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted.
The meeting went surprisingly well. I wore my cashmere twin set in a feeble attempt to distract the ladies from the school district from my haggard appearance. I just turned 40, and I’m not over it. AND, here’s my secret shame. I haven’t told a soul, but here goes. A year ago, due to the great stress of Grace’s illness, I started losing my hair. Like not just a little. A LOT. Handfuls of hair. I have a lot of hair. Long hair. I started to think I had contracted some form of alopecia. I had to change my haircut and my part in order to hide the hair loss. I was horrified. I am relieved to say that my hair is growing back, but it’s no longer blonde. It’s growing in…WHITE! I have read that illness and trauma can cause this. I don’t even know what to say about this except that I never imagined myself to be a 40 year-old woman with white hair. I have begun to jokingly call myself The Silver Fox. Clairol is my new best friend. I’m not ready to look like my Aunt Esther who also had white hair…when she was only 35!
Where was I? Oh yes…me and my cashmere twin set, my silvery streaked hair (which will no longer be silvery in the least the day after tomorrow!) in a topknot, the ladies from the school district, and the very helpful people of the partial-hospitalization program (PHP) gathered around a conference table. As luck would have it Dr. Klerpachick joined us, and he threw the opening pitch with a great explanation of Schizoaffective Disorder-bipolar type. When he finished, he looked at me and said, “Did I do a good job? Should I say anything else?” I smiled at him and asked if he would speak about executive function and cognitive impairment in schizophrenic spectrum disorders. He nodded and said, “Oh yes, well, as we all know cognitive impairment goes hand in hand with these kinds of disorders…” He went on to discuss certain types of dementia, working memory, executive function, and the distractibility of a child like Grace. She might look like she has ADHD, but she does not. I wanted to hug him. The ladies from the school district asked him what he would recommend for her. His response: “A small classroom.” Then, they asked, “Will she be able to return to a mainstream school?” His response: “I can’t answer that. Not my area.” That is exactly what he should have said. I was beaming.
Then, everyone got their turn to speak–Grace’s PHP teacher, the school psychologist, the facilities director, and, of course, me. I gave my recommendation which is that Grace should be moved to an intermediate district which has a specialized program designed for students with Grace’s needs until she can be transitioned to Day Treatment. The district would pay for this. Much to my surprise, the ladies from the district said ‘yes’. There are some necessary documents that need finishing touches. I need to tour the facilities for the next educational destination and attend the next IEP team meeting to ensure that everything is as it should be. After that? Grace will leave her PHP and her district and move on to the next stage of her education and treatment.
I feel as if I’m on the verge of completing an Iron Man competition. Honestly, did it have to be this difficult to get a kid the appropriate services and placement? I guess the answer to that is ‘yes’.
I’m gearing up to deal with yet another IEP difficulty. I have another child who has an autism spectrum disorder, and I suspect I’ll be making a transition with her in the very near future. Well, if I’ve learned anything since this whole thing started it’s that I’m resilient. I can go into a hospital with a psychotic child who just stabbed herself hiding partial hair loss, get her services, manage an autistic child when I come home, soothe an anxious child, handle a teenager, and somehow try to communicate with a grouchy husband.
Perhaps I really do have a little bit of Silver Fox in me after all…