ARD, IEP, PPCD

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Eli had his first day of PPCD. If you must know, I didn’t cry until I picked him up. Dropping him off was like any other day. Because he started school with only 6 weeks remaining in the school year, I didn’t get the experience of walking him back to his room and talking with his teacher. I sat in the car rider line like every other parent (I’m a real mom now, I’ve decided- I’ve leveled up!), I dropped him off and didn’t look back. 

But picking him up? That was different. The three hours he was gone, I thought of nothing but him. What he was thinking and experiencing. I grappled with the trust I had just given to these strangers. I had handed them my best three year old. That’s a little scary. 

I sat in the line anxious and excited to get him back. He walked out of the building holding his teachers hand, back pack on his back and a smile on his face. I was so proud in the moment that I couldn’t help but weep. He’s so great. Adaptable and flexible. He’s eager to learn and wants to know more about the world around him. He really embraced the change and has been thriving there ever since. 

As much as I hate to admit it, starting him (even with only 6 weeks of school remaining), has been the best thing we could have done. His ARD went so smooth, it was scary. We hired an advocate to help interpret and bring a sense of protection over the situation. I felt safer with her there and and more able to focus on interpreting the ARD paperwork instead of worrying that I would miss something or get tricked into something that isn’t in Eli’s best interest. And the best part? Eli actually looks forward to going and I get more time with just Wyatt and Ruby. It was the right move. 

The staff at his school has been very supportive. He’s currently receiving PT, OT and SLP while attending PPCD. Here are some important take always from my first meeting:
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1- Hire an advocate.
 I would highly recommend hiring an advocate from the very beginning. Most people only look into one once there are problems but I say start with the best and get the best. I felt protected and safe with someone who knew the law. I could focus on what was being offered and going over paperwork instead of stressing over laws I don’t understand. 

2- Have a pre ARD.
I requested Eli’s paperwork prior to the ARD. I went over it with a fine tooth comb with my husband. Then I went over it again with my advocate. From there, we contacted the coordinator to let her know our talking points and concerns. We were able to resolve issues outside of the ARD so those changes would then be reflected on the new paperwork instead of arguing over issues at the meeting. It helped me feel more prepared too. 

3- Ask questions.
If you don’t understand something, ask! It’s that simple. You’re adding a lot of new terminology to your already busting special needs terminology. Just ask. It’s easier that way. 

4- Make sure goals are attainable.
You will see the goals outlined by the school and based on what they are offering (push for as much as you think your child needs. READ that evaluation!) make sure that the long term goal is reasonable as well as the short term goals to get your child there. It’s a lot of think about- will Eli be able to complete 20% of this task in 6 weeks? I’m not sure, but ask. What do they normally see? How do we adjust this goal? How to we measure progress? Are there other ways to assess his success? 

5- Relax and trust them!
That’s been the hardest one for me. I would say this is an emerging skill ;) but you have to give them something. They are the ones who have been charged with taking care of your child. Instead of focusing on the negative stories all over Google, focus one what you actually see. Eli’s principal actually pushed for even more therapies than what we had lined up (and we were perfectly happy with what was being offered!), his teachers seem to genuinely care and the whole front office staff already knows who he is. PPCD *is* a gift and I have to give them some trust or Eli will never get these valuable experiences. Will we have some negative experiences? Yeah probably. But isn’t that part of life anyway? I can be their friend until we aren’t anymore and then we will already have support in place to address issues. 


With only 13 school days remaining, I’m actually sad to see it end. He brings home work every day, he’s always got the sign of some kind of craft experience on his person (paint or markers or glue!- he participated and made something. That makes my mama heart happy), and he really likes it. Our lives are busier and our mornings are more of a hustle and bustle but this is good for all of us. Looking forward to our new partnership and growing together. 

For more ideas, IEP and Educational ideas, check out: https://www.pinterest.com/1213rockinmoms/iep-and-educational-information/

Family Update

Summer is settling in and I’m slowly accepting it. For Texas, we have had a pretty mild start with lots of rain and overcast days. I’m not complaining. 

Last night, I sat on the driveway with a cold beer in my hand while my children ran up and down the street. The breeze was helping with the humidity, the sunset was beautiful and I had the sweet scent of Gardenias wafting straight to my heart. That smell…it only comes this time of year and I’m always caught off guard when memories come flooding back, triggered by that simple little white flower. 
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On this same drive way, three years ago, I was painting and preparing an old armoire with the smell of Gardenias in the air. The armoire now resides in sweet Rubys room after many hot nights of refurbishing and transforming that old piece of furniture. So many hopes and dreams…I would come home every day after work to dive back into my project. 

A girl. I was going to have a baby girl. 

So of course the armoire needed to be the perfect shabby chic coral color with wallpapered insides. My heart swelled. What would this armoire become for her? A dress-up closet? A place to store toys and dolls? The perfect tiny linen closet? Would she want to repaint and redesign it later? Would she take it with her to college? 

Because I wasn’t the one carrying her, I would spend countless hours imagining what that pregnancy was like. What her personality was. What she would look like. I tried to imagine how I would feel the first time my eyes met hers. And I filled my time up with preparing the perfect nursery because it was my only way to connect with her. 

Ruby will be two in August and I still feel like I am working to learn who she is and understand her. There are so many days I feel like I’m failing her. But then the wind blows, and the sweet scent on the air pulls me out of my thoughts. I look down and I see her standing there smiling at me. Her favorite blanket tucked under her chin, she waves and says “hiiiiii” and then runs away laughing. 

“She’s going to be ok” I tell myself. 

And she will. 

SPD has come in waves. When we make a gain in one area, SPD comes back to remind us that there is still real work to be done. Now that Eli is in school and has private therapies, I am busier than ever. We are not home as often and Ruby is forced to face things that agitate her. Thank you SPD. :) It challenges me- all the things I thought I knew about parenting and being a mama…all the things I said I would never allow my children to do become so relative when run through the “SPD” filter. My heart has grown in so many ways and I have a new respect for my mom and other moms like her. I also care a lot less about what other people think, because they don’t know my children or our situation. Grace. I’m trying to have more of it and give more of it. 

I’m still learning. I think I always will be. But learning to embrace who my children are instead of who I imagined they would be has been such an introspective journey. I’m learning more about myself and enjoying these changing seasons. The Gardenia is a picky little plant- requiring just the right environment to flourish. It means “secret love” but the secret it out and I want to spend more time with this fickle flower. Oh my precious Ruby- I’m working on your environment. I want to get it right. I want to see you flourish and I want to enjoy the love the blooms as a result. I know you do too. I want to be a mom worthy of you. 

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Graduation

Excuse me while I blow the dust off this ole’ blog. My new years resolution of taking more pictures has happened…but on the business side. I have been so busy with work that I haven’t had any time to come over here and share my thoughts.
I have a lot to say, but I think I will focus on a certain little boy who started this whole thing.
Eli is turning 3 next month. Yeah, I know.
3 isn’t *that* old, but it feels like he’s been here forever with us always.
Eli is my old soul and his little world is about to get much bigger.

In Texas, children who participate in the ECI program “age-out” when they turn 3. They can either elect to go to private schools/therapists or go to the public school system.
We have decided to do a combination (thanks to a very generous Nona and Papa Red).

This morning we had a small, intimate celebration to mark Eli’s graduation from ECI. A few of the people who have become part of our family through ECI were able to make it. I think my heart exploded when our original speech therapist walked in- she has a special place in my heart and just seeing her reminded me that I won’t get to see her anymore. Let’s just say there were tears.
You let these people into your home and hearts. And if you are anything like me, you love them hard because they are busy loving your child. They are truly family and no words would ever be able to express how I feel about them or how thankful I am for their knowledge and expertise.

In the fall, Eli will be attending a local public school 2-3 days a week (we haven’t fully decided yet) and a private school 2 days a week. The reason for two different schools is that Eli will be in a full inclusion environment at the private school. IMG_0098

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It’s pretty obvious why we would want him to have an inclusion environment and as his mama it’s been so clear that he is ready. I almost feel like he’s missed out on some social opportunities because he has been home for 3 years.
But, we are in the middle of an a Newman revival and some good stuff is on the horizon.
We will also be going into private therapies to supplement what the school provides and what he has lost with ECI. (If you are at all interested in private, check out all your options and speak with your coordinator through ECI services. Medicaid, medicaid waiver and HIPP are all great resources to help therapies continue after birth-3 programs end). Part of me wonders if we will ever *not* need therapy for Eli. If he always needs it that’s fine, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t excited for a break over the summer. I just want to soak them up before I’m that carpool mom running my kids all over the city.

I’m pretty nervous about my first ARD meeting, which is happening next week. We decided to hire an advocate going into the meeting, instead of waiting to need one because there are problems. I’ve been so pleased with her help so far. As a former educator, ARD meetings and stuff like this become so much a part of your life and day that you don’t remember what it was like to have no clue what is going on. She keeps me logical and focused on the task instead of the emotional aspects (I’m on my own, there) and helps me understand what is actually going on.

So I think my next post will include info on ARD meetings- how to prepare and what to expect…which means it will be crazy and goofy since I have no idea what I am doing ;)

Anyway, just a short little blurb to say “I’m still here! “Eli is doing amazing!” “The Newmans are doing alright!” ;)

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