Some people call them parent-teacher conferences. What do you call them when you also have an OT, PT, and SLP present? Parent-teacher-therapists conferences?
Sebastian left school early yesterday for hippotherapy so we didn’t get a copy of his updated IEP before our meeting this morning. I still had a list of my own to discuss so I didn’t come empty-handed.
At the top of my list was literacy. And numeracy. Though I often forget to ask about maths because it was never my favourite subject. Instead, we spend the better part of the meeting discussing Sebastian’s physical needs. Sending him in to school wearing his Theratogs is on the agenda with his head control lagging, his shoulders continuing to fold in forwards, and an ever present curved back. We discussed standers and positions for optimal chest stretches and different activities he’s doing with the OT, PT and their assistants and opportunities for sitting on the Flamingo toilet chair during the day at school.
I’m thankful he’s in such a supportive program for his physical needs, of which it becomes even more clear how important and needed this is. But towards the end I can feel my eyes start to sting with tears. And not the dry winter weather kind of tears either.
I want to talk about reading and writing and other educational activities. Is Sebastian doing them enough? How is he doing with them? I know our time is running out and so I switch the conversation. I know he struggles with focussing during these learning activities. He’s very social and always interested in what’s happening around him. I’m thankful for this too. His complete awareness. Even if it means struggling to focus on one thing at a time. Because as his teacher said, in one-on-one he can do it. He is doing it.
So we spoke briefly about literacy and numeracy and what it looks like in his SK classroom. I’m reminded of how I used to teach kindergarten and first grade and the kids than needed the extra attention like Sebastian does. Although not to the extent Sebastian does. Because as his teacher said, sometimes it’s just about having a good day. Making sure he’s comfortable and able to work his body in a way that helps him to do basic things like eating and communicating.
Sebastian’s biggest praises came from his SLP. He’s really rocking it with communication. He’s able to share what his needs are, make choices, provide answers to questions and have simple ‘conversations’ using his book, eye gaze, smile and vocalizations. He’s vocalizing so much more and they expect it from him which is great. We are working on putting his communication book into his iPad with the Proloquo2Go app to be used at school as well. This technology could help him to begin scanning using a switch as well as partner assisted eye-gaze; building his skills for higher tech devices in the future and the ability to communicate more than just what we ask of him.
As we finish up our meeting, I’m reminded that school will always be a bit of a battle. A battle for Sebastian, but in much different ways, a battle for me. CP’s hurdles do not go away. Ever.
Then as I leave I open up his IEP and see this:
This. This is my kid. I love him. To the moon. And back. No matter what. I will take my cues from him. Because ultimately, he know what he wants. And it definitely involves happiness. With a side of books, arts, and swimming. Like I said. He’s definitely our kid.