Wednesday, November 24, 2010

IEP Day

We had Claire's IEP (individual educational plan) yesterday. For those of you who haven't shared this experience, it can be an excruciating, anxiety roller coaster.  Most parents I have talked to dread it like a root canal.   I'll still need to go again because two people didn't come but it was so good for the parts we got to talk about. (still a little nervous about physical therapy).  I think her teacher and speech therapist were on the same page as us across the board.  

I can't believe how different this year is.  Claire does so much better in the integrated class and for the most part they see the same little girl we do at home, AMAZING!  The other day her student teacher was concerned that Claire had been chewing on her hands.  It is a sure sign of stress for her.  I was amazed that this (two and a half months into the school year) was the first time they had seen that behavior.  In her old classroom we couldn't get her to take her hands out of her mouth.  I threw the teacher off guard when my response was "this is the first time!  That's great news!!"

I could have cried when her teacher said they were one of only two integrated public preschools in all of Spokane that can keep spots for special ed and Claire would be able to come back next year. All of her friends in the same kind of class who have Down Syndrome are getting kicked out of their preschools when they turn five in the summer. We are so blessed but it is also outrageous that this amazing program that has changed Claire's life and accelerated her development by just being around her peers isn't available to most of the children who need it.

I read this at 4 AM because I am in that miserable part of pregnancy where you can't sleep.  http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/abbott/101116 I was surprised to learn that "Abortion is illegal in Ireland, so the 90 percent abortion rate of babies with Down syndrome, which has virtually extinguished the population in Western society, is not operating. The Irish don't do a double take for children like Christina...

Imagine if, overnight, we stopped aborting babies with Down syndrome. Soon, preschools would have the typical number of children with the characteristic almond eyes my daughter has, and children wouldn't have to tug at their parents' sleeves when they see her and ask embarrassing questions. Programs customized to their learning style would flourish, as their growing numbers justified their creation. When adults with Down syndrome took their place in the world, their accomplishments wouldn't surprise us and make the news. Like the young man who just scored a 51-yard touchdown for his high school football team, which was featured on Fox News, or the young couple, Monica and David, a couple with Down syndrome whose marriage story was made into an award- winning documentary."

I didn't really think of DS as such a minority. I didn't realize that about Ireland, how amazing would that be!? We wouldn't have to go to play group once a month just to see another person with Down Syndrome. I often think that the best way I can "advocate" for Claire is to just have her out with other kids doing all the things four year old girls do. Oh, the looks she gets at McDonald in the play place.  Claire is such a little social butterfly. At school she is never alone and even the teachers and kids in the other classes say "hi Claire bear" as we go down the hall. Her teacher had to have a talk with someone the other day that her last name isn't bear.

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