We have had three IEP meetings for Moosie so far this past month and one more to go next week. At least I hope we only have one more to go. I'll try to break things down to give everyone an update. I apologize that it is more of a 'dump' than organized writing.
This post is only regarding meeting 1.
In less than a year of early childhood special education, Moosie has made amazing progress in the areas of speech/language and social emotional.
This was him around February. More sounds were coming, but signing was still his preference.
This was him in May. We used "shaping" a lot. Once a sound would enter his repertoire, we would work it into words. He was doing a lot of signing at this stage, to the point of passing me and daddy up.
This is him now. He still signs some words, but it has become obvious that vocalizing is his preference. Sometimes he falls back on signs and gestures, which is great, especially since his intelligibility is heavily dependant on contextual cues! (And yes, that is the laundry couch in the background.)
Our goal this past year was to increase Moosie's functional communication. We used a multimodality approach--meaning he communicated with pictures, sign language, gesture, and vocalizations---to communicate whatever and however he needed to. Once the sign language started coming, the vocalizations started coming. No one was expecting this, with the "severity" of his verbal and oral motor apraxia. The little guy has an amazing attention span (1:1) and great problem solving skills to compensate.
So with four days of afternoon preschool in a small group classroom (children with no known disabilities and various disabilities)--including 15 minutes of speech therapy (using the methods that were right for him), 20 minutes of 1:1 intensive therapy (teaching signs/words for expressive language and monitoring receptive language and preacademic skills), and some occupational therapy to help with the choking/stuffing--Moosie has flourished.
But more importantly, with the love of his mommy, daddy, and brother he has flourished just as most three year olds (almost four!) do. With our understanding that he is not broken, that he doesn't have to be fixed, that he needs opportunities, experience, guidance, and compassion to continue to develop along his path.
But with his progress in social/emotional and speech/language, there was concern that fine motor seemed to not be moving along. It makes sense. He still has no hand preference, prefers to finger feed, and enjoys fisting writing utensils etc. Knowing about the motor planning issues, the issue for me has always been what to teach and what to accommodate. Since he is happiest in a 1:1 setting learning new skills, I often opt to teach first if they are skills he is ready to embrace, but accommodate other skills until he is ready for them.
Also, as Moose enjoys participating more in the classroom now, sensory needs were creeping up--hand chewing, crashing into people and objects, and such. Again, when it's harmful for him or others, I consider other options. I firmly believe letting him experience the sensory needs, but finding a way that isn't harmful (like chewing something that won't get infected!) So we decided to do formal evaluations in these areas. This led to Meeting 2.