We had Camden’s annual ARD (Admission Review Dismissal for special education students) yesterday morning. Always so thankful that my husband takes time off of work to attend these meetings. There’s a lot discussed and there are often a lot of school personnel in attendance, so it feels good to have someone there just for you. Our meeting yesterday included Camden’s general education teacher, special education teacher, diagnostician, adaptive PE teacher, occupational therapist, principal, and speech therapist. I can see how it could feel a bit intimidating to have all those folks sitting across for you if you are by yourself. We have a great team AND my hubby attends, so it’s win-win all around.
I had some concerns at the beginning of the school year, but they were resolved pretty quickly. A top-notch teacher + a district with high standards for students + an involved parent who continually refers back to the student’s IEP and educational paperwork, typically equals a pretty successful team. I am a bit focused before our ARD. I go over all of Camden’s past and present paperwork. His teachers assess and I assess to compare progress between home and school. I meet with his teachers several times. I get some headaches and plow through some chocolate. I seek the wisdom from some super smart autism and special education advocates and mentors. I ask myself, “Is what I am asking for reasonable and does it line up with Camden’s IEP?” I had a counselor friend say before that if people come to a meeting and are shocked and caught off guard by what they’ve heard, then good communication has not happened. The bulk of the talking/negotiating/compromising should happen before a big meeting. Camden’s teachers and I spent hours preparing for this meeting. No one was taken by surprise yesterday. Camden’s teacher and I shoot straight with one another. She is confident (but open to input) in her teaching abilities so it doesn’t bother her or make her feel attacked when I ask a lot of questions. I am a key player of “Team Camden” and it is vital that I understand what happens at school. Certainly, I don’t want to be a jerk or be pushy just to get my way. But as Camden’s mama, if I don’t advocate for him, who will?!?!
Anywho, it was a successful meeting. We felt heard. We had lots of opportunities to celebrate Camden’s successes and to focus on where he’s heading this school year. Camden’s teachers have always asked me to write up kind of a “parent progress report” to share Camden’s growth at home. I could have gone on and on, but here is what I shared:
“Present Levels” as Observed in the home environment
Shared by Candace (mom)
September 17, 2015
Camden continues to make slow-and-steady growth in all areas. We had a great summer that combined a lot of play and fun, some focus on ABA therapy, and plenty of time to just be lazy.
Mondays consisted of Gymboree, Top Golf, lunch out, and our weekly trip to the grocery store. This is Camden’s last year for Gymboree, but it is amazing to see his progress. It’s a great opportunity to work on gross motor, imitation, pretend play, socialization and communication. To see him participate in the songs without my prompting and to watch him do all the motions was encouraging. Even just to see how much easier it is for him to run and climb is exciting. Our excursions to Top Golf were fun. Just like Gymboree, it’s nice for my boys to have things they enjoy doing together. Top Golf gave Camden opportunities to work on turn-taking, listening for instructions, counting, basics of golf, etc. Camden was able to make choices on where we went for lunch (Pie Five or In & Out). Lots of opportunities to work on patience, listening skills, socialization and communication, etc. After lunch, we’d go to Whole Foods for our weekly shopping trip. Camden did great making requests for various foods. Lots of labeling. My primary method to measure growth in this area is that there is NO WAY I could have done Gymboree, Top Golf, lunch, and my big weekly shopping trip with both boys and without me having a migraine. While I was dog-tired this summer, we thrived instead of just survived.
Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday Camden attended Such and Such ABA center. He participated in the social skills group in the morning for 2 hours. He would eat lunch and then receive 3 hours of 1:1 ABA in the afternoons. Miss B (current school teacher) is super supportive about handing off Camden’s school materials for us to use for summer ABA. While I don’t have our summer ABA therapists work on the big academic goals, they do work on maintaining the skills he has mastered as well as trying to help him master the skills he is currently working on at school. The center combines traditional ABA with play-based therapy. It’s a good fit for Camden since he does do so well at 1:1 ABA table time, but he really benefits from the play-based approach too since it’s more of a struggle for him.
Friday mornings were kind of lazy around our house. The boys could play and have some technology time while mama did laundry. We would eat an early lunch and then head out for a water activity. We went to various pools/aquatic centers over the summer. Since Camden can be rigid, it was good to have variety. Public pools can obviously be crowded during the summer so these were certainly good times to work on listening skills, taking turns, trying new things, etc. When both boys had things they wanted to do, I just had to say, “It’s Carson’s turn, so we will do XYZ for 15 mins. Then it’s Camden’s turn and we can do XYZ.” So much fun to push Camden out of his comfort zone. Little brother wanted to try the lazy river at the aquatic center. Camden kept with his “no thank you.” I told Camden he had to try it, and it ended up being his favorite thing to do at the pool all summer. Just like with our Mondays, for me to be able to take both boys out to a crowded pool and for us to have fun and not have a massive headache is MAJOR success and growth on all of our parts. We had a wonderful vacation to see family in PA. Camden is making slow-and-steady strides with travel (namely flying and time in the car). It gets a little less stressful each time. The boy LOVED the time at the beach. Such a joy to watch him enjoy something so much.
Sleep continues to go well, thank God! Camden sleeps through the night about 95% of the time. He continues to make progress with variety of foods.
Camden’s adaptive bike has been a game-changer. Instead of just going along in the bike trailer, he is an active participant. He loves that bike, and I love that he is able to share a hobby with the rest of his family, get some exercise, and learn some rules of the road.
The transition from me pushing Camden to try various things to him now wanting to do those things on his own is super exciting. I absolutely love seeing him find things that he enjoys.
Camden has made vast improvement in numerous areas. For a mama of a child who is considered “functionally non-verbal” it brings me immense joy to see Camden grow in this area. Miss B (current school teacher) and I were comparing Camden’s ABLLS data, and there is a bit of a gap between his verbalizations at home versus school. Miss B asked me to jot down some of Camden’s verbalizations to give her an idea of what it looked like at home. SO glad I did. Here is what I shared with Miss B on 9/15/2015:
Then I shared Camden’s speech growth that I recently shared here.
Glad that’s done! =)