I believe that we may have had success. We met with the lawyer before the meeting. I was a Nervous Nelly and spent most of this pre-meeting time rambling. I said a prayer that I got it out of my system before the meeting. Then there was the meeting. I kept on reminding myself to "listen, don't speak, listen, don't speak". I did.
I found out as entering into the room to have the meeting that the school district was not notified that we were bringing a lawyer. They dealt with that very well, and said if we came to an impasse, they would halt the meeting, and reschedule until their lawyer was there. I appreciated that.
We had asked our previous BCBA to conduct a VB-MAPP on Zach a few weeks ago. She ran this tool, which indicates levels of verbal skills, problem behaviors, and transition abilities. Transition abilities indicate if the child is progressing in a pattern that is successively more independent in an effort to get them in the least restrictive environment educationally. This same tool was used in May and in August.
The results of the VB-MAPP indicated that Zach has shown a regression of skills since entering the school program. When I first reviewed these results, I was shocked at the level of regression. I was deeply saddened about this and actually considered if we were doing the right thing by having him in the school at all. We reviewed all of the options again to see if there was a more appropriate fit. I consulted with the "experts/specialists" to indicate what the best option was. The combined school with itinerant services seems the best option. A school option alone is not meeting all his needs, a home program in practice was not fully effective in our experience, Zach was resistant to therapists at home and the home environment was becoming an aversive.
Zach loves going to school. He is getting the idea of structure and routine. He is accepting other individuals into his life. These are all important.
During the course of the meeting I did review Zach's schedule at the school. The county representative actually requested an additional session of speech a week ( he will now be receiving speech 5 times a week). I was surprised by this - but actually OK with it. What I feared was that they would reduce anything else we requested by the this time.
The school then asked the director of the ABA program at Zach's school what she recommended to get Zach back to his progression of this summer. She deferred the question to me. I hated this. I really wanted her to speak to this. I was a little flustered since I oh so intentionally was trying to keep my trap shut. Had I gone in there expecting to speak to this, I would have probably unintentionally rehearsed some key phrases. But here I was having to respond on-the-fly. I stumbled a bit, but the gist of my request was that I wanted 2 hours a day of in the home ABA on top of the school program. I did not request a 1:1 aid in the classroom. Although I think this is a good idea, it wasn't top priority. However, I am in the process of trying to devise a strategy that would in effect do this. I will be attempting to find a few interns at SU or LeMoyne who are looking for internships for next semester and hoping that SPICE can add them in?? BTW - if you know of anyone, let me know! PLEASE!
We then discussed the "who" of this matter. I basically stated that H. our EI BCBA therapist would be a good fit: 1) because she was familiar with the case, 2) because she used the same approach and had a similar philosophy to Dr. P (the ABA director at Zach's school), and 3) because she was available.
There are some major contractual issues (hoops that need to be jumped) in order to get things in place. The problem is, they can only bill a speech person for 1 hour a day - this is the goofiness of how contracts work - they have nothing to do with the reality of the situation. I hate when protocol/policy/process dictate how to do something and one has to retrofit what makes sense into some limited scope. Uugghh. Saw this at work, read Dilbert cartoons about it, and now have to deal with it with my kid. I pray that we receive good news by the end of the week that this can be worked out somehow. 1 hour a day saves us roughly $12,000, 2 hours will save us $24,000. (I am not going to lie to you - I still have hope that we can one day redo our kitchen as we intended when we bought our house... I am trying to keep that dream alive. LOL)
So there you have it - good news, but not smooth sailing. Please say a prayer that they can finagle a way to handle this situation. I keep on thinking that we are set until May, and then what? Take each day as it comes....