Being enrolled in the Early Intervention (EI) program involves creating an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) that outlines our goals for Matthew and how we would achieve them. He's been in the EI program since he was a month old. Goals are set with the coming year in mind and based on where he is with different areas of development. I also meet with his therapists and service coordinator every 6 months to review the IFSP and see if anything needs to be added or changed.
We recently met for the final 6-month review. Matthew will be transitioning to the Early Childhoold Special Education (ECSE) program in October this year at one of the local schools. He'll be 3 years old. On one hand, I can't believe he'll be going to school soon. On the other hand, I think he is so ready to be in school.
Preparing for the IFSP Meeting
1. Review previous IFSP before the meeting.
To me, going over the previous IFSP is my least favorite thing to do. The document is confusing and I dare say that the lay-out is not "family friendly", especially when certain outcomes have been "continued with changes". But moving on, I make myself go over the IFSP before the meeting to note accomplished outcomes and necessary changes.
2. Look at developmental milestone lists.
One of Matthew's therapists provided me with lists of developmental milestones arranged by age range and area of development. The lists allow me to generally evaluate Matthew's developmental age based on his abilities. More importantly, the lists help me see what we can or should be working on next.
Other assessment tools such as HELP (Hawaii Early Learning Profile) are available to families. I have no experience using HELP so I wouldn't be able to share any other information about this other than that it exists.
Looking at assessment lists hasn't always been easy. I used to focus on the age specified for a skill and only saw it as confirmation that Matthew was behind. Over time and a conscious effort to look at progress and the road ahead, I can now look at such lists without getting hung up on the age. Matthew is doing what he can and has certainly shown a lot of progress in all areas of development even if he may be behind in certain areas such as speech and language, gross motor, fine motor, and self-help. We just have to keep working, move forward, and celebrate progress.
3. Prepare a summary of abilities and corresponding skills that need to be worked on.
This is actually the first time I typed up a summary of Matthew's strengths and weaknesses. I did it as preparation for Matthew's transition meeting, which is next week, and wished I had done this for past IFSP meetings. It showed everyone that I was on top of things and knew exactly what I wanted for him. I used the Developmental Achievement Chart form, which is available on the resources page of the MPACT (Missouri Parents Act) website. The downloadable form is in .pdf format so I created my own version using Microsoft Word.
I will give a copy of this summary to the school representative at the transition meeting next week and an updated copy of it at Matthew's evaluation, which will be close to when he goes to school. This is also a good document to give to his teacher in October.