March 16th, 2012
Posted By:
Categories: School issues

The captain - haircutOur 5-year-old (The Captain) has been in a Pre-K program through the school district these past two years.  It’s called PEAR, Pre-School Expessive and Receptive Language program.  In short, they teach the kids how to talk.   At that time, he spoke so little that the nature of his deficit was not obvious.  Now, most of the experts in his world think it is a speech delay and that is likely the result of the trauma caused by living most of his early life in foster care.

It’s a wonderful program taught by a special ed teacher with a speech pathologist.  When I look at their plans for the week, it looks like any pre-school program: stories, playtime, painting, cooking, sensory elements and so on.  Yet somehow this magic turns into improved speech.


In the summer before acceptance into the program, I attend my first ARD meeting to agree upon goals for our son.  (ARD means Annual Renewal Admission/Dismissal).  At this meeting, his appropriateness for the program is discussed and goals are set for the following school year.  After the first meeting, I burst into tears the minute I got in my car.  It was so much to process!  The teachers and specialist leading the meeting were sweet as could be; I was just upset that he needed these services.

The result of the ARD meeting was the IEP, Individual Education Plan.  The IEP follows your child into any school he or she attends and ensures that any disabilities or special needs are noted and schools are required to provide services and accommodations based on this plan.  I will be attending this year’s ARD next week, and I must admit, I don’t know where the meeting will go this time.

At 5, he’s technically old enough for kindergarten, but there are issues.  It’s as if, frankly, the almost 2-1/2 years he spent in foster care were lost to him.  His therapist places his emotional maturity at about early-three-year-old age.  Based on his actual three year old brother, I’d say that’s about right.  His academic skills lag a bit behind his emotional maturity.  He is making progress, to be sure, and that is very encouraging.

Next week, we will decide his next steps.  We may decide to send him to Kindergarten with the full understanding that he may not be ready to move on to 1st grade at the end of the year.  I don’t know what the other options we have.  I am grateful for the school district and the services they provide to our traumatized son; while we can’t erase those “lost years,” we are slowly regaining them.  I am optimistic.

Photo credit:  Dreena T

4 Responses to “ARD, IEP and other Alien Words”

  1. laurieshaina says:

    I am new to this forum. My child adopted from Guatemala has many of the same issues as yours; delays etc while she doesn’t have speech issues she does have anger issues and trouble making friends because she thinks everyone is out to hurt her and she calls them “booolies.” She bit some boy and kicked another in the shin and reduced him to tears…She is now in 2nd grade and with ADHD medicine she is learning better sort of and they moved her from an IEP to a 504 plan. I was not happy about it somehow what I have heard from others is that she is not as protected with the 504 plan and that if at anytime I feel she needs extra help will probably have to duke it out with the school to get anything extra for her. Do you know anything about 504 plans??? My daughter is adorable but suffers from bipolarism, ADHD and RAD. She is on several low doses of medicine for all these things and they sort of help but not the behavior part which she seems to save for me at home and sometimes I hear from the school. Its been challenging but I love her so much and hope that at some time she will outgrow all of this and lead a wonderful happy life, but right now its a struggle to get through each day. I recently had to tell her homeroom teacher (who was being very hard on her in class picking on her etc and stressing her out) that my role as a parent was to try to keep her inner angst at a low level so she doesn’t wind up back at the mental hospital for trying to hurt herself again(she was cutting herself and hurting our pets-it was awful) and then suddenly the teacher backed off. I have learned to be very blunt about her needs and proactive about her issues and very confrontational. Since adopting her at 8 months about 7 years ago, I have had to take everyone on…people who didin”t think anything was wrong with her because she was too young (when there was) to those who tried to say she was faking her symptoms and on and on. We finally have a therapist who is great but I have had to kiss a lot of frogs along the way to find him. It got so bad that I would go into their office on the first visit and say”Nothing personal doctor but if I don’t see any appreciable difference in her behavior in six months we will be moving on to another doctor, please don’t be offended.” Still I am also optomistic.

    • Dreena T says:

      I am sorry it has taken me so long to reply. I believe with an adhd diagnosis you are entitled to an iep and a 504. I would check the laws in your state. You are right. It is a fight but it is our job to do it. You are doing a wonderful job advocating for your child. Don’t give up. It will get better.

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