Sunday, March 15, 2009

IEP Time Again

IDEA, IEP, annual review, special needs, LRE, Least Restrictive Environment, autism, Asperger's
Our annual review is fast approaching, and as usual around this time of year, I'm getting anxious - probably more so than in the past. The difference this year is that there are massive budget cuts being rumored throughout our district. From all the buzz, it doesn't seem like it will affect the special education budget that much, but I can't see how it won't. The CSE has been pushing a program for Gus that while not awful, isn't as good for him as his current program. He'd almost (99%) certainly regress and would be set back a year. Aside from that, we'd probably see an increase in his wandering and "eloping" behaviors: too large a class (I've already been told that they will be over their limit), too large a school, and not enough sensory support for him to be able to cope. So I'm anticipating a battle and not looking forward to it.

I talked to a friend whose son is also being recommended for this program, and it never ceases to amaze me how nasty these CSE chairpeople can be. And they often seem to work under the assumption that parents aren't doing their homework and that we won't see through the nonsense they shovel at us. They love to make parents feel like they have no choice but to accept what the district sees fit, and they love to throw around the term "Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)." As a matter of principle, I agree that a child should be in the least restrictive environment, but remember that the environment has to also be appropriate, and yes, as a parent, you do have the right to reject what the district feels is appropriate if you disagree.

I can't stress enough how important it is to know the IDEA rules and your state's special education procedures better than you know the back of your hand. Our state sends these in a packet when we are given the date of our annual review, and you should have free and easy access to the information in your hometown. Read it. Know your rights. Don't let yourself get bullied.

And someone please remind me of all these things before next week. Have a great day!

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