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About MamaSheep

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  1. I've been looking into the Great Courses Plus stuff a little bit too. Can anyone tell me about the quality of the lectures?
  2. Wow! You guys are busy! I'm recovering from a dead computer--getting the software all installed on my new PC etc. I think my files were all backed up. We're on summer break. This week, dd will be off to camp and I'm going to try to get lots of writing done. We're taking one more week off after that, and then we're going to be digging into a math page a day over the summer, and working on developing some "life skills," because I've really slacked off on that kind of thing with the kids since my stroke. In between we'll be trying to clean up the house a bit (also still suffering from post-stroke chaos), and I need to follow up on some disability services stuff for ds. Always the adventure.
  3. Wow. What a mess. They handled that all wrong. If you decide you want to push things further with the charter, here's a little light (not) reading that might be helpful. :) can seek mediation and/or a due process hearing (that's easier if you didn't sign the IEP, and/or put your objections to the IEP in writing and gave it to the school, and you'd want to have experts independent of the school--like your therapist--who can testify about the chid's abilities and needs and how the school should be meeting them). If not, I think that's totally understandable. You have to pick your battles. In the mean time, know you're a good mom. This is hard stuff! I hope you find an option that will work for you. :grouphug:
  4. I wouldn't argue about it either. If she's that obnoxious about it, you're not going to change her mind, and I'm guessing if you're having a meeting with a person in that position there are probably bigger fish you're trying to fry and it would be counterproductive to make a stink over semantics. One option, if she corrects you again in the future, would be to just gently say that you're using the term "homeschooler" in the colloquial sense, not the legal sense, and ask her which term she would prefer that you use in discussing matters with her. Then use whatever term she suggests, and get on with whatever business you're there for, so you can get out and get on with your life.
  5. Critter - those sound like migraine headaches to me. Next time, something to try would be to take some Benadryl. For me, that works as well as the prescription stuff they gave me for migraines. ------ So...I'm sneaking back in after a couple of off weeks--not weeks off, mind you, but off weeks. Sometimes I just have to remind myself that I really can't do all the stuff I want to, or used to be able to do, and that I should be happy with half a to-do list finished and a good night's sleep when I can manage it. I'm really glad the kids are old enough to manage their own laundry (whoever would have thought the day would come?). This morning I managed to lock myself out of the house in my nightgown when I had to go out after the dang dog. But I also managed to get my daughter off to her early bus to the orchestra festival on time, with her violin, shoulder rest, music, lunch money, and burner phone so she can call when they get back and I can go pick her up. So I'm counting it as a good day. I even have a little while to sit and goof off on the computer before the man boy gets up and I get to cart him around to his religion class and his computer repair certification class, and then make him do math. He and I are also going grocery shopping this afternoon, assuming I have the energy for it after all the carting around, but that might have to wait until tomorrow. If energy levels are too low, I'll flop in front of the computer and see if I can get some more writing done. I have been struggling with the outline for a new novel, but I think I've got it far enough along that I can actually start writing now and not run into any brick walls. At least not for a while...there is one part toward the end I haven't been able to untangle yet, so I'm hoping the process of getting to that point will spark something interesting. On the up side writing-wise, my agent is now pitching my first novel (as a series), and earlier this week I got my first acceptance for a short story to be published in a literary journal. So I'm pretty psyched about that. :) But I am SO burnt out on school. I can not wait for the end of May.
  6. I'm not really sure. It's a very individualized process. In our case there were "behavioral issues" that a teacher couldn't manage while trying to also teach a class full of kids and it was obvious to everyone that an extra pair of adult hands was necessary.
  7. You're very welcome. I've been to a lot of IEP meetings...heh. I don't know everything, but I have picked up some good info over the years. If you have other questions, please ask, and if I don't see it give me a nudge through private message. I don't read everything on the forum and might miss it. Oh, and something else good to know might be that you can actually waive some of the options they offer if you don't need or want or like them. Sometimes they need you to waive it in writing, but that's to cover their own rears so that if someone federal comes to check up on them, and says why isn't this kid getting THIS thing (like a particular placement or whatever) they can prove that they offered it and you declined, so they don't get in trouble. So if they ask you to sign something to say you're rejecting their recommended placement, that's all it is, it isn't personal. As an example, when ds was younger they used to offer a one-on-one classroom aide every year for a while because when he was in school full time he really needed one. But when we pulled him out to homeschool him, and we only wanted the OT, PT, speech, etc., and he wasn't in the classroom anymore, they still had to offer it as an option, but we just noted next to it that we were waiving that one, and initialed it, and everyone was happy. But yeah, there's a bit of a learning curve, and I'm more than happy to help if you need it. You'll do fine, though. Just remember to breathe, and remember you're as much a part of the team as anyone else at the table. You'll do fine. :)
  8. So about that "specific learning disability" label. (My daughter got this tag too.) The thing is, IEPs operate under the IDEA law (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). To qualify for help under IDEA, the child has to be shown (through the evaluation process) to have a disability, the disability has to negatively impact their ability to learn, and they must require specialized instruction to learn effectively (whatever alterations are made to the regular program to accommodate the disability). Having a medical diagnosis isn't enough. A child can have a proven, medically diagnosed disability and still not qualify for an IEP if the evaluation team determines that it doesn't affect their academic functioning (etc.). Likewise, a child without any sort of actual medical diagnosis can still qualify for an IEP if the evaluation shows impairment in academic functioning (etc.). Which is why you have to have an evaluation done even if you already have a diagnosis. (Weird, but whatever.) BUT, the disability has to be in one of the thirteen CATEGORIES specifically listed in the IDEA law. They can't fund the IEP without putting it in a category. My son, for example, qualifies under the "autism" category. My daughter used to qualify under the "specific learning disability" category, but the gap in discrepancy between her actual performance and estimated ability has closed enough that she no longer qualifies under that umbrella. However, if I wanted to push the issue, I could very likely get her qualified again under the "other health impairment" category because of her ADHD--as long as we could show that it negatively impacts her learning, and that she can benefit from specialized instruction. Which I don't think would be a problem. However, right now she's only taking art, drama, and orchestra at the school, and we're doing math, English, history, and so forth at home where I can give her more individual attention and customize her curriculum a bit more than the school can do. But the point is, "specific learning disability" isn't a diagnosis, it's just one of the categories of disability in IDEA, and it includes a wide range of actual learning problems. Now. Once your child has QUALIFIED for an IEP under IDEA, it doesn't really matter very much WHICH category. It mostly matters THAT they qualify. After that, the expectation is that the school will evaluate the child's INDIVIDUAL needs, and come up with an individualized plan that meets them (within reason, and within the budget and personnel limitations under which they operate because this is reality). The actual accommodations, goals, expectations, etc. that go into the IEP don't have to necessarily tie back to the category, they just have to address the need of the child. So for example, my daughter QUALIFIED under "specific learning disorder" because they had to stick her somewhere. But since she also has ADHD (which would fit in the "other health impairment" category) a lot of the accommodations in her IEP actually addressed her attention issues rather than specifically dealing with her problems with written expression--though the attention issues are definitely one cause of the written expression problems. But she didn't need to be ALSO categorized under "other health impairment" because she had already been qualified for an IEP, so that would have been redundant. But again, if we decide to send her back for subjects where she'd need accommodations, I don't think it would be hard to get her either an IEP or a 504 plan (more disability stuff under a different law, but an IEP is better IMO) because of her ADHD issues. So "specific learning disability" is just the category to get you in under IDEA so he can have an IEP. The contents of the IEP plan should reflect your particular child's needs, NOT a generic list of accommodations that are given generally to all children in the same category. And you can ask for anything you think would be useful. They might try to talk you out of it, but I find that usually if I can justify WHY I think it is necessary and specifically HOW I think it would help, especially based on anything useful in the evaluation test results, they are usually just glad somebody at the table has useful suggestions and sounds like they know what they're talking about. Some ideas, off the top of my head, could be: Reduced work load (my daughter had this because of the writing thing; we interpreted it differently in different classes, worked out individually with the teachers--in math class it meant she only had to do every other problem; in English, it meant that she had to write for the same amount of time as the other kids, but then she just got graded on the work she had finished, not on the whole assignment. So for example, if the kids were supposed to write a one page essay, and she only managed half a page, the teacher just graded the half page and couldn't take points off for it not filling the page. But her teachers were really good about recognizing that dd really was trying to do her best, and she wasn't just being a slacker. Anyway, some accommodations will be interpreted differently for different classes/subjects as common sense dictates. Even after you have an IEP you might need to meet individually with each teacher to discuss HOW the IEP will be implemented for THAT class.) Extra time for test taking. Extra time for take-home projects if needed. Reduced distractions for testing. Preferred seating (for example, my son likes to sit in the back of the room close to the door in case he needs to escape to prevent a panic attack; my daughter likes to sit up front so there aren't distracting wiggly kids between her and the teacher) Alternate or modified assignments. (This could cover things like doing every other math problem, doing an oral report instead of a written paper, dictating answers to a scribe who fills them in on worksheets, etc. Sometimes it's enough to just say modified assignments, but sometimes it's a good idea to list specific kinds of modifications you're going to want to try out, so that there's no question with teachers as to whether you're "allowed" to do it that way or not) Reader for tests. (This is someone--or a computer program--that reads the instructions, etc. to the child during tests if the child has a hard time reading, so the child is tested on the actual information the test covers, and not on his ability to read the instructions) Breaks (If sensory overload is a problem this might be a good idea--these can be scheduled or as needed) Anyway, that's just off the cuff, and I don't know your child. All of these are accommodations my kids have had at one point or another, though. Really, you can suggest anything you think would help your child learn, or would make the curriculum accessible to your child with his current ability levels. If you think your child would do better with a popsicle break every day at three, you can ask for it. The worst they can do is say no. So yeah, I'd say do a little research, and a little brainstorming, and go in with a list of whatever you genuinely think would be reasonable and helpful. Oh, and one other thing to know is that with IEPs nothing is ever set in stone. You can request another meeting with the team any time you feel changes need to be made (or sometimes you can just change things informally by talking it over with whoever holds your file). And they SHOULD be having a meeting to revisit and update the IEP once a year, and doing a re-evaluation every three years. So don't feel like this is permanent. It's a work in progress.
  9. OneStepAtATime brings up a very good point. Most teachers actually have very little education about or experience with learning (or other) disabilities. You'd think that would be part of getting a teaching degree, but it turns out that unless they're specifically going into the field of special education, most teachers have only one or maybe two semesters worth of classes that cover ALL disabilities lumped together all at once. So they might have read a couple of paragraphs about any given disability and spent ten minutes on it in class ten years ago, and that's all they know about it. Don't assume the teachers have any clue how to actually teach a child who doesn't fit the "box". And also, teachers are often overwhelmed by the number of students they're given, and frustrated by all the conflicting requirements they're supposed to meet, and they just want things to work. But wanting it doesn't mean they know how to get there. And they're tired. Teachers are always tired. So yeah, a little sympathy for the teachers is always appreciated, and it usually helps to assume that they know nothing much about working with disabled children. It's not really their fault, it's not something they were ever taught, and now they have three in their class, and they're all different, and they just don't know what to do. So they really need you, or the neuropsych, or someone, to explain it to them, and to help them see how they can modify their checklist of conflicting requirements so that they don't get in trouble for letting this kid fall through the cracks, or get left behind, or whatever the current jargon is for the teacher not doing their job.
  10. I haven't ever used a charter school, so I'm not familiar with exactly how all that works. I do know that in my state, the charters are considered part of the public school system even though they're not affiliated with the local public school district, and they are supposed to follow all the same legal requirements as the other public schools, including providing special education services when needed. In reality, though, the charter schools really don't have very good special education services (depending on the specific needs) so a lot of the special ed kids wind up back in a regular public school anyway. But I know they're at least supposed to provide special ed services. What we've done is to use the non-classroom kinds of special ed services, like speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and that sort of thing, but to do the academic work at home, because our son can't really tolerate a classroom environment. Especially one that, like you say, tends to be a bit like a warehouse full of busy-ness. Here, they allow us to do that under a "dual-enrollment" arrangement. I know that's not available everywhere, but it might be worth asking about. One of the things you can do in an IEP is to specify how much work a child can reasonably be expected to do, based on his individual challenges, and what pace is reasonable to expect. The teacher might be legally obligated to hound you UNLESS you have an IEP, but may be able to back off a bit if the alternate expectations spelled out in the IEP are being followed instead. If he's legally designated as having a disability, which is part of what an IEP does, then the requirement for "grade level" work might be able to be dropped. But again, that's something you'd need to ask about. I would definitely ask the charter school what would happen next if you (hypothetically) decide to decline public school. I would also suggest asking the public school if you can access just the non-classroom kinds of services through them while continuing to do the academic work through the charter school or independently as a home school. Take it one step at a time, and remember to BREATHE. This is a marathon, not a sprint. It will come together eventually.
  11. P.S. If it hasn't already been done, make sure they check her thyroid levels, and vitamin D levels. And there are a few other physical things like that that can sort of mimic depression. Prozac won't do the job if what she really needs is a thyroid boost.
  12. My only regret about putting my son on Prozac is that I didn't do it sooner. Seriously. Changed his life. The one side effect we've seen with him is that he sleeps more, which in his case is a very good thing. As a person with chronic depression issues myself, I want to point out that different depression medications have different effects for different people. For me, Prozac sort of greys everything out so it doesn't matter as much--the dark scary stuff doesn't matter as much, but neither does the happy stuff, or the stuff that really SHOULD bother you. But it's not like that for my son, apparently. Celexa made me faint the one time we tried that, but for my son it just didn't work as well as the Prozac. Wellbutrin seems to be my Goldilocks drug for when I need chemical assistance. For general upkeep once I've crawled out of "the pit" again, exercise, good nutrition, plenty of sunshine, a clean home, a little socialization, etc. generally do the job if I keep on top of them. My husband is good about helping me monitor and giving me a more objective perspective on whether I really am just not feeling social today, or if my avoidance of social time is a warning signal (because in the early stages, it's genuinely hard for me to tell). So yes, all of those things might help, but if it's as big a problem as it sounds like, medication can be a real blessing. And most people really do only need it temporarily to get them over the hump so they can start doing those other things that will help them feel better. But as someone else pointed out, when the depression has set firmly in, it's not realistic to expect the person to be able to do all those things. You would not believe the force of will it can take to pry your own body out of bed and make yourself go sit outside on the porch cursing the sunshine for five minutes because you know it will be good for you. And actually getting dressed and finding something to eat can seem as insurmountable as climbing mount Everest. Like your body actually weighs more than you can lift, and you don't even remember what hunger feels like, so why bother with food. I also want to say that joint pain and fatigue can be part of the depression, and depression meds can actually help lessen those things. But yes, when you start a new depression medication, or ANY new medication, you want to keep a close eye out for side effects. Usually with Prozac the doctor will start at a very low dose and work up from there until they find the right dose for that person. It takes a couple of weeks for Prozac to build up in the system and reach its full effect, so generally you don't raise the dose for at least two weeks, but if you start seeing undesirable side effects before that, you can reduce the dose or stop the medication (under a doctor's supervision, of course). Also with Prozac, both the side effects (if there are any) and the desired medicinal effects come on gradually as the medication builds up, and they generally go away completely once the medication is stopped, so it's pretty easy to nip problems in the bud. One other thing I might suggest, as far as non-drug treatment would be to think about grief counselling. Grief isn't quite the same thing as depression, but can manifest in similar ways. And grief and depression can both occur at the same time. If the physical problems your daughter is dealing with are looking like they'll be a long-term, or permanent thing, she may be experiencing some real grief over what "could have been." Chronic illness or disability can feel very much like a death, even if you don't necessarily make the connection. It's a loss of yourself, who you always meant to be, the life you were "supposed" to have. And since there's no tangible, visible loss, it's sometimes hard to even figure out what that awful feeling you're experiencing is. Somehow, knowing that you're grieving a loss can make it easier to work through the process (and there is an actual, definable process, though we each go through it in our own unique ways). And when you don't know that's what's happening, it can be really scary, and you can get stuck, and a little guidance from a counselor can be very helpful. Just something else to consider. Hugs to you and your daughter. I hope you find a good solution that works for your family.
  13. First of all, hugs! IEPs can be really stressful! Secondly, yes, I think it would be appropriate to talk to the boss/administrator about having a different teacher. It sounds like the boss/administrator was pretty open to finding a good way to work together, even making workable suggestions. You could just tell him/her that you don't feel your current teacher is a good fit, and you'd like to see if things go more smoothly with someone else. Thirdly, assuming you're in the United States, YOU are as much a member of the IEP team as anyone else, and they should be taking you as seriously as they take each other. They should believe you when you say he did the work, just as they'd believe any other professional teacher. And you have the right to politely call them on that. Sweetly. With a smile. But firmly. I'm his teacher for this class, and I'm telling you he did this work. (I'm kind of wondering why they think they need to see his math homework if you're the one who's teaching him math. Is this just an evaluative thing? Is it required by law where you live?) Also, I would strongly recommend asking to have someone sit down with you and explain the test scores. As a parent you have a right to have it explained to you, and re-explained to you, and to have someone higher up come in to explain it again (or whatever) until you understand it. And as an educator, the information in those test scores can be VERY useful in figuring out the best ways to help your child. And as far as advocates, is there someone in your homeschool group, church, neighborhood, family, etc. who you think would make a good advocate and would be willing to go with you to the meetings without charge? Again, assuming you're in the U.S. you have a right to bring anyone you want with you to the meetings. It's good form to tell them in advance that you'll be bringing along a friend, but they can't tell you you can't. It's a good idea, too, to have an idea of what kind of assistance you would ideally WANT from the charter school. My experience has been that most IEP teams don't quite know what to offer, or will only offer a limited number of options--mostly because they are overwhelmed. But usually if I ask for things that aren't on their list, they're more than happy to accommodate my requests (as long as they're reasonable). You can ASK for anything you want. Whether you can have it will depend on things like funding and personnel issues, and the convergence of a ridiculous number of weird legal requirements. But you can always ask. Also, yes, you can definitely spell out teacher expectations in an IEP, and it's often a good idea to do so because then everyone is clear on what is supposed to happen. (But yes, teachers are a constant problem. I find that my children's teachers almost never actually read the IEP, and I generally try to meet with them in person or at least email them at the beginning of each year/class and make sure they understand at least the highlights. Because if I don't educate them, they don't usually bother.)
  14. P.S. Stefanie, I hear you. I'm very NOT a morning person either. And psych evaluations are the pits.
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