The first IEP meeting I went to was when Bird was in the FCPS PAC Program (pre-school) going into Kindergarten. Prior to this my husband KAM was kind enough to endure the process and make the hard choices (like refusing the first 3 sites they offered for placing Bird).
I went because we knew this would be a fight and boy was it ever. We were up against a principal I still thinking of as The Dominatrix largely because she acted like one and a preconceived discrimination that was popular at the time. We had with us David a tall good looking father of a then 9 year old with autism, Mere Bird’s pre-school teacher who really believed in what was best for Bird, KAM and I in this tiny conference room with 8 people from the school their to cow us into submission. Not all IEP’s are to cow people into submission but this one clearly was!
We were asking for the unthinkable to put our son with autism into a Gen Ed Kindergarten 1/2 day only and not the autism program and to have minimal supports. The Dominatrix informed up in short angry words that NO our son had autism which means he will be put into a all day kindergarten program 1/2 day in an autism room and 1/2 day inclusion when the autism class was in that room. Well, I had already seen the autism room for kindergartners as my oldest was actually in kindergarten this year and knew that the kids in that room were either being paraded in and out at the will and whim of the teacher or they were sitting in front of their computers stimming (you only need walk by their room if they were in it to know they were not doing ABA, centers, circle that lasted more than 5 minutes they were being babysat by the computer and I was not going to have any of that!
We battled back and forth about LRE (Least Restrictive Environment) and IDEA (books of rights for those with disabilities) and how he was able to write his name, count and had some conversational abilities most important that he was behaviorally under control and very interested in pleasing his teachers!
My plan was to put him and his twin sister in parktakes classes every morning before school and have him attend kindergarten in the afternoon.
We won and wow it was so hard. Mere did everything short of get fired to make sure that he got what we were asking for and that they would help us through lots of communication to make sure he stayed on task. We set him up for a probationary period to make sure the school had an out if this failed horrible.
It did not fail and 2 years later Ms. Dominatrix actually seem to acknowledge that it might have been the right thing to do…which hardly matters as I am in this for my son and not anybody else…still it felt good to know she might have understood she was violating his right to be educated with typical peers.