Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Q&A #260

Oops I forgot to ask if Kennedy is actually doing all the same exact work level/requirements as the other students are to graduate each grade, or does the school lower the expectations/requirements for the inclusion kids? Im confused if inclusion meant just having them sit with their same age peers in the same classroom, or is inclusion actually also doing the same level of work, too. Thanks for educating us on this new concept to many of us!! 
Kennedy is working on the same State standards as the rest of her class. She is doing the same work, the same projects, on a modified scale. That's the whole purpose of an IEP... it's an Individual Education Plan. Her IEP is designed just for HER so no one else's IEP will look exactly like hers. There are some things in the classroom that she can do on level with her peers... other things, she needs to have modified. For example, when her class learns their times tables in 3rd grade, Kennedy will learn them too. However, she will be able to use a calculator. When the class does their writing journals, parts of Kennedy's will already be filled in so she doesn't have to do as much writing. It takes her a lot longer even though her actual writing is neat and she CAN do it. So for example, if they did an essay on "What I did for my Summer Vacation", Kennedy's might have the words "This summer I went to _______" and she would have to complete that sentence while the rest of the class would have to write the whole thing. It just cuts down on the writing for her while still helping her write complete thoughts. Hopefully as she gets older and continues to build up endurance that will be a modification she won't need anymore. She will NOT just be sitting in the classroom just to BE there. She will be learning and working with her peers. Anything that simply cannot be modified, she will be pulled out to get extra help for reading and math. That's the beauty of the IEP. She gets the most appropriate education for HER in her least restrictive environment and can learn from her teacher, her peers and during her pull out time. Sadly, this shouldn't BE a new concept. Kennedy is not a trailblazer, she is simply following in the footsteps of MANY kids before her who were included thanks to their parents and teachers who took the time, risk and pain to advocate for them. I am forever thankful that Kennedy was born in 2004 and not 1984 or 1964. Her education and her life would look very, very different. 

That's awesome that she progressed so much in a year! I was wondering how the inclusion process will work as she moves up in the grades and the gap between Kenn and her classmates widen academically. Will it end up being more frustrating and harmful for her to see her peers move on easily to master more difficult work that she will struggle with, or perhaps be unable to do? That is the part of inclusion that would concern me most and want me to protect my child from. Will you at some point (in a higher grade) consider moving her to a special Ed classroom where she won't have to struggle so much to keep up with her peers academically?
It really depends on her, her school and how much her IEP team is willing to work with and for her. We have been very fortunate to have general education teachers each year (even when we were in TN) who have WANTED her in their classroom and asked for her. Her 3rd grade teacher specifically asked for Kennedy to be in her class as well. :) Obviously as she moves up the gap will certainly widen in some areas (like math. UGH!) and looking into the future, I certainly don't expect her to master algebra (especially when I barely squeaked by! HA!) so yes, her education will probably look different as she grows and that's ok. Right now, Kennedy knows she has Down syndrome. She knows that means she has to work extra hard to do some of the stuff her friends do - even stuff she loves, like dance. But she also knows that if she puts her mind to it, she CAN do it. She has more self confidence than anyone I know. She also knows how to use it to her advantage... For example, she will say, "I can't clean my room mom, I have Down syndrome." HA! Too bad for her that doesn't work in this house. ;) Yes I want to protect her, and there are some days that I just want to put her in a bubble and not let anyone hurt her, ever. But it really boils down to the fact that she has Down syndrome and there are some things she will have to work a little harder to do, there are some things she will have to work A LOT harder to do, and there are some things she will most likely never do - like calculus (I know, lots of math references. haha). Now if a math teacher wants to take her on one day and teach Kennedy calculus, you'll never hear me say, "No she can't do that." More power to her, let her try! Right now I am looking at elementary school and maybe a little bit into middle school... she has a powerful IEP team behind her who DO believe that she can succeed and they make sure Kennedy knows that too... and so far, she has met every goal and her successes have far outweighed her struggles. One year at a time... that's all we can do right now.  

I don't know how well it would work for Kennedy but if part of her problem with writing is legibility you may want to look into keyboarding. She would probably love it given she loves technology.
Kennedy (and really the whole school) does A LOT on the computer. They are a technology school, so they have access to PCs, laptops and iPads on a daily basis. (There are a couple middle schools here where every student gets their OWN iPad! It's pretty cool!) She definitely likes that better! ;) Still she has worked hard on her writing and we all want that to continue, so she'll do some writing, some computer work, depending on the project or assignment. Her writing is actually very legible and she's age appropriate, it just takes her longer to do long passages and her hand gets tired easily... thankful for those modifications! :) 

It's nice that you are able to opt out of your state testing. I am a 3rd grade teacher in Florida and it is extremely hard for anybody to opt out, even children with an IEP (though they do get accommodations). 
It is nice and I am so thankful for that! Technically I could opt Kass and Kam out too but they do fine with them. They do have an alternative test here in Colorado but Kennedy would have to qualify for that based on low IQ (like severely low) and other low cognitive test scores and since we don't do IQ testing that's not an option. They said she probably wouldn't qualify anyway and would have to take the regular state testing. They CAN do modifications, but it's still just pointless in my mind. She doesn't do timed tests well AT ALL and it stresses her out. I'm just glad we don't have to think about it. 

Congrats Kam! So some of his classmates are going to his new school with him? Lucky him. Kaitlyn won't know any of her new classmates in her new school.
YES! I think there are 4 or 5 from his entire 5th grade, but 2 of the boys were in class with him this year and they have very similar interests and goofy personalities. I'm so excited because they get along well and they'll all be in the academic arts portion of the school. :) 

Really? I thought they would be all over that bacon lemonaide, lol. Looks like a fun day. I really hate that Joe ends up working on all of these holidays. Well, I hate it until we get his pay check, lol. Overtime sort of makes up for it ;). 
RIGHT?! LOL I thought so too. Kameron was the first one to spot that sign but even he thought it sounded gross! LOL They had chocolate covered bacon there too which Kam has had before and loves!! And I still say "eww". LOL 


my family said...

i need to chat with you to find out how you opted out of the state test, I just found out last week the my other kids could opt out too....just wonder how difficult it is. as for William we still have a few more years but something Im thinking about doing research on:)

Kristin said...

To the pp... this website:
may be helpful. You can search information by state. Hope that helps! :)

Unknown said...

You are right that Kennedy was born at the right time. I am an OT and over the years I worked with a few adults with Down Syndrome. One man was in his late 40s/early 50s and with the support of his parents had gotten some education (I think mostly at home but a little in a small rural school, probably 1 room) and had lived at home and participated in family life doing household work as an adult. He was able to read a little and learned social skills. His parents really pushed hard for him to have those things in the 50s when they were told to institutionalize him. When I knew him he had dementia and a lot of heart problems but with his mom's help he settled into the routine at rehab for the time he was there. She was fascinating to talk to about what they went through.

In contrast I had another man with Down Syndrome who was actually about 75 with no dementia. I thought that was pretty much 100% but he escaped it. He had terrible arthritis, I think from low tone putting strain on his joints and I believe some diabetic issues common at his age. He had no education because his family classified him as incapable. I dealt with a family meeting and there was a lot of misunderstanding with them, such as they thought his getting angry was for attention when really it was because he was nearly deaf and got frustrated by people. I was hurting him; of course he got mad. He had managed so much for himself though; he had worked as a janitor for many years and been in the newspaper for swimming 500 miles over the course of many years. He was a social butterfly of assisted living and was a very neat man. I wish I'd known him when he could hear. But his family and cultural environment left so few resources for him and he achieved so much without anyone's help.

Today is much better although things still need to improve.

Emily said...

If you can opt Kass and Kam out of the state test, what's the point of the test? I understand opting someone with an IEP out of the test, but it seems kinda unfair that the test is optional if your parents don't want you to have to take it.