My oldest child, I will call him child#1, just started middle school this year which starts at grade six. He is eleven years old and has a diagnosis of autism and ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder).
Before our upcoming IEP meeting, I got this note from my child’s SEA, after I informed her that my son hadn't completed his homework during our busy weekend (the underlining is the SEA's):
I got your note and informed the teacher. However, I have to remind you that the "videogame time" in the morning heavily interferes with child#1’s school work. His mind is so greatly under the influence of the game that he can’t/won’t try to focus on Math. I've already mentioned this to you. I only reiterate what I've said.I was so mad. She should know that, having autism, child#1 perserverates on interests -- which is another way of saying he obsesses about his video games. Cutting them out in the morning is not going to stop child#1 from wanting to talk about them. Also, I think she was very rude and has no right to tell me what to do in my own house, Suggestions, fine; orders I don't do well with.
Game time needs to be replaced with something else such as quiet time in bed or whatever is not going to set up child#1’s mind in the morning.
Otherwise, his school accomplishments are going to further suffer. If you need help let me know. I know lots of good replacement activities.
After venting about it, I wrote her a note that said, “I suggest you let him talk about his video games to get it out of his system and then child#1 will be more focused on his work.” No response on that note. Hmmmm...
I talked to the support worker (who is supposed to co-ordinate everyone) because child #1 was getting one-and-one-half hours of homework every night. I found her to be inflexible, and she actually told me that the homework is only going to increase. My son is so frustrated by the end of the school day that he is only capable of doing a half-hour of homework. She wasn't getting that.
Needless to say I was very nervous and feeling stressed about the upcoming IEP meeting. As far as I could tell from questioning child #1, they were not following his IEP at all. ARGG....
There were a lot of topics to discuss. I got information about what his elementary school was doing with child#1 last year, from his former SEA ( who is so good we kept her as a behavior interventionist) I researched perservative interests and had that printed out. I made a list of the topics I needed to bring up, and notes for my eyes only lol. Then I wrote a point form agenda and handed this and the information on perservative interests out to the teachers, SEA, councillor, support worker, and principal (whom I had asked to be at the meeting).
Now you may think I had it all together, but I was so stressed I hardly slept the night before.
The day of the meeting arrived, and I was still a bit stressed but feeling more prepared. I went to the meeting and everyone introduced themselves for the sake of my husband (child#1's stepdad, my support at the meeting.). Then I handed out my sheets and asked if I they minded if I started the meeting. The general answer was “No, of course not.”
I wasn't ganged up on like I feared. We talked about all my agenda topics and either compromised or they saw my point. The only thing they don't want to do is give rewards because it’s middle school, and it makes child#1 stand out. Well, I am going to keep tabs on that, and also I am thinking of just rewarding child#1 myself at the end of the day if he has a good day with no homework.
I also discussed my son not focusing on math and told them he is simply not a morning person The former school had this problem last year. Also, child#1 sometimes wakes up early in the morning or at night and starts playing on his games. He doesn’t always realize what time it is.
We talked about homework, and I made it clear that I really don't mind doing some homework with him. Child#1 is just too frustrated and stressed at the end of the day to do that much homework. We also talked about giving him fewer questions, which they were not doing in math. It would help him finish his work in class time so he wouldn’t have any homework, eliminating some of his frustration. Like a lot of our kids he is very bright and doesn’t need to do all the questions to get the concept. They are going to start adapting more, especially in math.
I didn’t single out the SEA, although it was tempting. I just said “I’m not sure if everyone knows about perseveration of interests.” Then I suggested that they give him certain times to discuss his video games, and they could even put it into his visual schedule. The SEA told me she already lets child #1 talk about his games at certain times. I told her I know it can be frustrating at times because it’s hard to get him off the topic.
I don't think the meeting would have gone as well as it did if I hadn't prepared and went armed to the meeting with information and an agenda. This was the first meeting I chaired, but I felt confident, and I was well received. :)