The Assistant Director of our Board of Education’s Exceptional Children’s (EC) department called me back Thursday afternoon. She had reviewed Luke’s evaluation file with both school evaluations and our private evaluations. She wasn’t getting a clear picture from the reports though and wanted to discuss everything with me further.
We talked about the special education observation that was done in the classroom. She said she could see from the observer’s notes that he is fidgety and appears to be off task but was noted to have been following along and retaining information despite that. I pointed out that he struggles most with remaining on task during individual work times and completing assignments without supervision but he wasn’t observed during those times.
I reiterated that I understand that 504 accommodations would address his classroom needs and lingering ADHD symptoms but that I feel he should receive special education services to provide help with his handwriting issues. She told me she doesn’t have any samples of his handwriting but will get some. I again specified that I want to get help for him while he is still young and still learning because I believe it’s possible he can improve his handwriting enough not to later need a keyboard/word processor accommodation. An accommodation that would scream “look at me, I’m different” in an already tough middle school classroom.
As we were discussing the handwriting problems in more detail, poor pencil grip and control, spacial issues with letter placement, sporadic size and case, etc., she remembered a workshop she had attended not too long ago that talked about visual disabilities. Not a physical visual disability like you would correct with glasses but more of a visual processing deficiency. At the same time, she was looking through the private specialist reports again. She realized that these deficiencies were noted in the private reports: “it says right here…” I responded (likely with glee), “yes, [the private specialist MD and occupational therapist] both noted these deficiencies and need for specialized therapy.”
In the end, she committed to:
- looking for her notes from the visual processing workshop and review them to see how they might relate to Luke’s needs
- go to the classroom next week herself to observe him during individual work tasks
- have a final resolution on this by Friday. yes, this Friday.
I am tickled pink (who would have thought?)! She is kind, respectful, and, unlike the others we have dealt with so far who looked for whether or not he fit the special education mould, she is open to discovering if his needs are more obscure and if he just might be the exception to the rule. Dare I say, I love this woman. I applaud her for the inclination (or maybe just the authority) to think outside the forms and general guidelines. I feel so lucky that she volunteered to deal with me.
I am, of course, still trying not to assume he will get special services after this reconsideration, but I am confident that she is going to really study Luke and his unique needs and render a fair opinion. An opinion I think I will be able to accept, despite the outcome. I am working on having faith that everything will work out exactly as it should because I know I am doing everything I can to fight for the needs of my special child.