Thursday, March 13, 2008

Progress Report

It was exactly a year ago that we got the results of Ben's first formal assessment from our local school district and the recommendation that we enroll him in a language-enriched preschool program that's part of a nearby elementary school.

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.


Erica said...

Delurking to say that it is wonderful to read about the incredible progress Ben has made over the past year. He's come so far in such little time!

My son (33 months) was recently diagnosed as PDD-NOS and he is also hyperlexic (intense obsession with the alphabet--and to a lesser extent, numbers--since 18 months of age). He uses a great deal of echolalic speech and has zero pretend play that is not scripted.

Your entry about the disappointment you feel in toy stores was so close to my experience--I have held back tears so many times in the same instance. It has proven impossible for me to adequately explain the scenario to my friends with typical kids--whoever heard of a child who didn't enjoy a toy store? It is a relief to know that there are others out there who understand. Perhaps you may understand, too, why I try to avoid playgrounds where I know they have those letter wheels on the jungle gyms--the ones that you spin to spell 3-letter words.

Receiving the diagnosis was difficult, but I am trying to stay focused on getting him the proper treatment (and the right amount of it) as soon as possible. It is quite overwhelming, but I am so encouraged by your entries. My son sounds so much like the Ben of a year ago--he is a happy, always laughing little guy who lights up our lives and keeps us on our toes. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

(I live on the Peninsula and had never heard of Children's Fairyland, but it sounds like the perfect place for my son, so we will definitely try it out this spring! If you have any more local recommendations, please let me know!)

KAL said...

Wow, this is phenomenal! Congratulations. And I'm so glad you had a positive IEP experience :)

eileen said...

HOORAY for BEN !!!
HOORAY for MOMMY and DADDY for their constant support, attention, guidance and love that they pour out for Ben !!!
HOORAY for wonderful teachers who affirm and encourage the specialness of Ben.....!!!

Anonymous said...

What a great progress report! It's encouraging for me to hear such a fabulous report on a little boy who is much like my little girl.

Keep up the great work, Ben!!

Anonymous said...

Great news for Ben and for the parents!!! I am familiar with the IEP and the meetings. They are very supportive and informative at the elementary school I work at. Just today I started an interactive relationship with Olin, a kindergartner with autism. We played air hockey, trains and punching bag. In looks, he so reminds me of Ben. Keep up the good care with my grandnephew. Hugs, Julie

Christa said...

To Erica -

Thanks for delurking yourself! I loved reading your comment and I'm glad to hear that there are ideas here that resonate for you.

If you're subscribing to comments and happen to see this, let me know where I might be able to correspond with you about local recommendations for activities, etc.


Erica said...

Hi Christa,

I'd love to hear from you! Although I've now met a few parents of spectrum kids, I've never met any who are dealing with hyperlexia.

You can email me anytime at

All the best,


jaki said...

I've been out of town and away from blog-land for a while.
What wonderful news...what a great report! I hope you feel good about it for yourself as well as for Ben. You two put in a ton of effort, allowing him to "be Ben" yet gently nudging him into the greater world.

Casdok said...

Great progress!