Beauty has been receiving ST and OT simultaneously from a branch of a local medical center. The office is staffed with some very sweet ladies and I was very hopeful, if not certain, they would be helpful in our journey.
When we began last January Beauty would not go into the therapy rooms without me or my mom. After about a month, she was able to leave me in the waiting room. I thought, YIPEE! PROGRESS! Meanwhile, she occasionally had days where she would smack the OT or pull hair. This is not unusual behavior for Beauty. She does not do it in a mean-spirited kind of way, but as a way of getting attention and sometimes even to express affection. Well, this behavior also tapered off.
Fast forward to two months ago. I am in the waiting room, when suddenly the ST comes out and asks me what is wrong with Beauty’s mouth. “Nothing”. “ Well, she’s picking her teeth.” “She’s been doing that ever since her baby teeth started falling out.” I look and can see her sitting in a chair with the OT and intern, and then the ST, shining a small flashlight in her mouth. They bring her to the waiting room. Beauty is obviously upset. The intern and OT finish the session in the waiting room with me, since I was the only one there. The ST and I talk.
Okay, so I am thinking this is just an off day. However, since that day, Beauty would not go to the session alone. At her last session, my mom took her. My mom left the room for a minute to make a phone call and Beauty freaked and slapped the OT numerous times. I have not taken her back. I could sense a level of frustration building up for a while now so I have decided to pursue other options. They are very lovely ladies, as I said, but I am not sure they are equipped to handle (or have enough experience with) children Beauty’s age and issues. From what I saw, most of the clients were preschoolers and younger.
Enter the present and the unexpected collaboration. I have chosen to get Beauty’s speech services from the local public school. In our state, and I am pretty sure this is true of all states, the local school is obligated to provide certain services to all eligible children, regardless if they are home schooled. I say this collaboration is unexpected because I have felt very strongly about staying away from the public school. I did not want to defend my position or be hassled in any way. As of today, I realize I was very quick to judge and am actually quite pleased with my interaction with them thus far.
I have met with both the Director of Special Education and the chairwoman of the ARC. While they of course would “love to have her”, they are also very respectful of my decision to home school. I think it helps that they see what interventions we have tried in the past and what we are currently doing today. In fact when I told them what I do at home to help Beauty, they said I am doing exactly what they would recommend. They were also impressed that I was able to relay what we are doing in our home school. I was told that they service many home schoolers, most of whom cannot “prove” that they are actually educating their children. I find this questionable. I hope it is simply that the home school parents are choosing NOT to share their routine and schedule and work. In our state, we do not have to disclose any information, turn in any reports, take any assessment exams or follow a certain curriculum. A responsible home school does keep records, though, just in case. I am choosing to be as open with them as necessary to ensure Beauty receives the best possible help.
We have our first official ARC meeting next week. The committee will determine if they “suspect” Beauty is eligible for services. I realize this is just procedure. I don’t think any one doubts she will qualify. Once she is approved, they will meet with her as many times as necessary to receive an accurate evaluation. They will then present to me an IEP if I choose to enroll her in the school, or a Services Plan if I continue to home school.
Honestly, I am going to see how it goes. There is no way I would enroll her in the middle of the school year, but am open to considering next fall. After all, I want her to have every chance possible and the best learning environment. Whether that is with me, or with the school, is yet to be seen. I pray for God’s wisdom and direction, and I know He will not disappoint.