So last week, on the year anniversary of Ben entering the special education system, we had our first IEP (Individual Education Plan) meeting with his teacher and speech therapist.
Now, if you've read any parent-generated internet content about IEP meetings, you might think of them as some combative, adversarial, tense, or at the very least, unpleasant event. But that hasn't been our experience.
We love Ben's teachers, and our meetings, including this one, consist of regaling each other with stories of Ben, laughing with each other about his antics, and generally conducting a meeting of the Ben Fan Club.
But it's more than just that. The program is wonderful for Ben and his reports indicate that he's made incredible progress this year, which we've known all along.
So, as a testament to the power of skilled teachers and early intervention, here is a comparison of his initial assessment report and an excerpt from his recent IEP report:
Reuben is a sweet and active little boy who typically does not interact with peers or adults and is self-absorbed in his own world.
Ben presents with significant deficits in the area a pragmatics or language use which are negatively affecting the efficiency and effectiveness of his communication acts and his ability to make appropriate social contact with others.
While some interest in others is evident, Reuben's social interactions appear highly limited. Nonverbal behaviors to regulate social interactions and signs of emotional reciprocity were not apparent in typical manner expected for children his age (e.g. lack of eye contact and facial expressions showing interest in the feelings and reactions of others, preferring solitary activity, using others as tools.)
Ben enjoys coming to school and being around his peers. He greets his teachers and friends each day with a smile and kind words. Ben enjoys reading and participating in circle activities that involve letters, numbers and language and reading.
Ben has a fantastic sense of humor and enjoys making others laugh.
While Ben used to prefer to play by himself, he has begun participating in play activities with his peers and he has even begun to initiate such interactions. Ben likes to please adults and usually serves as an excellent behavior model for other students.