Our journey with education has been overwhelming to say the least these past few years. All of our kids have had delayed expressed language. At first, no one thought anything of it because they grew up in a trilingual environment (English, Laotian and Vietnamese).
We started our oldest at a local Montessori school after the twins were born. We wanted to get him into a social environment with kids his own age. We hoped that it would help with his speech as well.
Going to school did wonders for him but when it came time to decide if we would stay for Kindergarten or go to the public elementary school, we decided to go the public route. We had made it a priority to move to our new home to be in the school district.
Then came the rigorous (in my opinion) screening and testing prior to him starting Kindergarten. In our school district, if through testing the child qualifies for services, they do an in home visit with a social worker and Early Childhood teacher to see how they do at home since that is their “home base” and where they would feel comfortable.
After this assessment, if the child qualifies for services, they create a team including the Special Education (SPED) teacher along with any other teachers and staff your child will interact with at school. Everyone involved was great and made me feel at ease with everything that was going to happen. They held a meeting that included a school district representative to review their recommendations.
The recommendations and plan are always voluntary, but in my opinion, if you get the chance to give your child the best shot and being successful in school, why not? As a parent you have to agree to what is discussed and next steps before they will implement the plan.
Then came the creation of my son’s Individual Education Plan (IEP). The IEP includes goals and milestones for your child for the school year in the areas they need help to improve on. In my son’s case it included Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Social Skills and English Learners (EL). We were lucky because it was the first year that the school district made sure that resources for all Special Education was at our school so that he did not have to be shuttled over to another elementary school for services and be taken away even longer from his classmates.
By the end of his Kindergarten year, he had made leaps and bounds with his IEP. It was great to hear that every single teacher had to revisit and change his goals before the end of the school year because he had met them so quickly! We saw him become more confident at school and in social settings. Now going into first grade, he gets to continue on a new IEP. Without the support of our school district and the special education program, he wouldn’t be where he is today in regards to his education.
Let’s rewind a bit. Remember when I mentioned they sent people to us for a home visit? The ladies that came to assess our oldest also met our twin boys. I knew (and they confirmed) that the twins would need help sooner than their older brother.
As soon as the twins turned three, I called the district’s enrollment center to get their Early Childhood screening scheduled and get everything going.
I was right. They were much farther behind than my oldest. Attributed to being twins, not sure, but they were far more behind in their expressive language. They definitely had the Minion speak down to a tee! The twins qualified for services too and we began building their IEPs for pre-school.
Preschool IEPs are a bit different in my opinion. Children are still developing so they are not as intense when it comes to goals and milestones. After we reviewed their IEPs, we decided to have the twins in different classes (a whole different post I could write about!).
Special Education has been a lifesaver for us. Overwhelming only because I didn’t realize all the resources at our fingertips through the school district. Not only that, but we are so lucky that all these resources and services are free to us! Yes, you heard me right…. FREE!!!
Disclaimer here: I am definitely not an expert and not sure how it works with other school districts. Make sure and check the school district you are in to see what is offered.
The most important thing is that as parents, we need to be open to whatever needs our children may have. Start early and don’t hesitate to use the resources around you. Special Education has been the best thing that has happened for our kids.