I wanted the perfect IEP for Matthew's first year in preschool. The IEP is a legally binding document that describes all of special education services Matthew will receive. It includes details of services such as therapies, academic and behavioral goals, percentage of time in the classroom versus time in individual therapy sessions, and progress reports from teachers and therapists. I wanted to ensure Matthew received all the services/therapies he needed, to learn lots and make new friends during his first year in preschool.
The IEP Meeting
I walked into the meeting with Matthew's school records binder, my list of goals, a dozen bagels and a smile. The binder had photos of Matthew on the cover to show everyone at the meeting and make it easy to keep in mind the person whom this IEP was for. The dozen bagels were for myself and the people who would be a big part of my son's development for the next 12 months. He'll be in school from 7:45am to 10:45am, Mondays to Thursdays. And I hoped my smile masked my tiredness.
The school administrator, teacher, speech therapist (ST) and occupational therapist (OT) at school were at the meeting. Matthew's OT, developmental therapist and service coordinator from the Early Intervention (EI) program were also present. I invited the latter three.
The meeting started with a review of Matthew's present levels of academic achievement and functional performance. I loved how the section about his strengths was worded.
Matthew is a very bright little boy with a great sense of humor who loves learning and has a great attention span. At this time, he is functioning at age-appropriate levels in the areas of cognitive development, social-emotional development and gross motor development. His mother reports that he's very visual and pairing objects with pictures or words is very beneficial to him. He learns well having tasks broken down and with lots of repetition.
His IEP goals were written based on my concerns in each of the developmental areas, specific to Matthew. After all, it is individualized but out of curiousity, I do wonder how similar or dissimilar they are to others' goals.
We have 3 annual goals for gross motor skills.
1. Matthew will propel tricycle 50 feet on level ground including 90 degree turns on 3/4 data days.
2. Matthew will place both feet on 4 inch beam and take 3-5 steps on 3/4 trials for 3 data days.
3. Matthew will go up and down 3-5 multiple steps without hand support (but holding on to rail) on 3-6 inch high steps for 3/4 data days.
We have 1 annual goal for self-help skills (adaptive behavior).
1. Matthew will increase his ability to put on/remove loose clothing without assistance for 10 consecutive data days per benchmark.
One of the benchmarks/ measurable objectives, just as an example, is:
Matthew will put on his jacket and/or backpack with less than 2 physical prompts for assistance for 10 consecutive data days.
We have 3 annual goals for speech with several benchmarks for each goal.
1. Matthew will increase overall speech intelligibility by producing age-expected sounds in the initial position of target CV (consonant-vowel), CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) and CVCV words contained in repeated carrier phrases (my ___, I ___, etc) during structured therapy activities in 8 out of 10 opportunities over 3 consecutive data days.
Speech goal #2 is similar except the focus is on VC (vowel-consonant) and VCVC sounds/words. And speech goal #3 is to work on two- and three-syllable words since he currently drops syllables.
We have 3 annual goals for language with several benchmarks for each goal (benchmarks not listed in this blog post).
1. Matthew will increase his expressive language skills by independently using 2-4 word utterances to answer target "what' (what doing, what have), "who" and "where" questions regarding a one-sentence story or pictured actions and objects during structured language activities for 8 out of 10 opportunities over 3 consecutive data days.
2. Matthew will increase his expressive and receptive language skills by demonstrating understanding and independently using the following modifiers, descriptive concepts and unit vocabulary words, including but not limited to: in, on, under, over, on top, next to, big, little, tall, short, long, fat, new, old, hot, cold, not/no, bumpy, hard, soft, happy, sad, mad, night, day, etc by pointing to the appropriate picture when named and by saying the appropriate concept word to describe pictures during structured therapy activities for 8 out of 10 opportunities over 3 consecutive data days.
3. Matthew will increase his receptive language skills by following two-step, unrelated directions during structured therapy tasks for 8 out of 10 opportunities over 3 consecutive data days.
We have 2 annual goals for fine motor skills.
1. Matthew will increase fine motor skills by demonstrating independent completion of designated manipulative activities such as using tongs, clipping clothespins, stringing beads 3/4 trials.
2. Matthew will increase fine motor skills by using one hand to manipulate and one hand to stabilize while completing table activities (turning single pages of books, stabilizing paper while marking on it, cutting with scissors) on 3/4 trials.
We have 1 annual goal for feeding.
1. Matthew will increase his feeding skills by taking 5 bites of foods, chewing, and swallowing them, from a variety of tastes, textures, and temperatures using appropriate utensils when necessary in 80% of opportunities for 3 consecutive data days.
The Perfect IEP
The meeting went well. I felt really good about the goals during the meeting. However, in the evening after meeting, self-doubt and questions loomed. Are these goals sufficient? Are they set too low? Is the IEP perfect? Good enough?
I finally came to terms with myself and let go of my self-induced stress a few days after the IEP meeting. Perfection is relative. I decided not to stress over what we had on paper. These were good goals. I had heard many glowing reviews about the school's preschool program. This was a good start. Besides, amendments can be made during the year if needed. And what good is a perfect IEP on paper if it's implemented poorly?
Matthew was supposed to start school after his birthday but due to the tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy scheduled on October 26, we decided to keep him home and away from possible bad bugs he might pick up at school. Getting sick would potentially postpone his surgery. He'll be going to school as soon as he recovers from the surgery.
Speech and Language Evaluation for Preschool
1st Screening for Preschool
1st Staffing Metting & New Diagnoses