Oh. My. Goodness.
I don't even know where to start.
The meeting had all parties in attendance: special ed teacher, regular ed teacher, diagnostician, principal, GAL, CASA worker, CPS worker, bio mom and me.
The diagnostician led the meeting. She started off by going over the documentation that proved Pumpkin met the standards for special ed. As quickly as she could, she rattled off what Pumpkin's neurologist wrote, and then what each of the therapists for the district (physical, occupational and speech) had to say. And I do mean she went fast!
None of it was a surprise to me though. I've been a part of most all the testing. I interviewed with the speech therapist at the school. And, though I didn't work with the other two therapists at the school, I observed separate evaluations at private therapy.
And here is where I've got it a bit easier than most parents. I can listen to everything the professionals have to say about my child and I don't grieve. Pumpkin came to me "as is" and I've never expected more from her than what she is. (OK - well, maybe I have hoped for some things... like potty training. But I'm learning to lower my expectations even further.) I can hear that she's moderately to severely mentally retarded and my hopes and dreams for her aren't shattered.
Then the meeting got interesting.
Pumpkin's special ed teacher started going over the goals for Pumpkin for the rest of this year and all of next year. I'm trying not to be too negative...but there wasn't a SINGLE goal that woman read off that I think Pumpkin will be able to do.
I don't remember them all. My mind started swirling as soon as she started talking. Learn the water cycle?! Sort events by how long they take to do?! Recite the Pledge of Allegiance?!
I want this child to understand "turn around" when it's time for me to brush her hair. To "lay down" when it's time for me to change her diaper. Or even to not call everyone else "Pumpkin". Or not to say "good morning" when it's 7:30PM. I'm pretty sure that being able to separate words into syllables isn't a top priority!!
The diagnostician did say that many of the goals probably seemed a bit lofty. But they are required to make all of Pumpkin's goals align with the goals of her same aged peers. (Stupid stupid stupid No Child Left Behind at its finest!!) They just have to modify them down to Pumpkin's level. She probably only said that because as the teacher went on and on with the ridiculous goals she's put into place, my eyes got bigger and bigger and my mouth probably dropped open. I couldn't help myself.
I advocate as much as I can whenever it's appropriate. I did verbally agree with the diagnostician that the goals seemed lofty. I did say that my ONLY goal for Pumpkin is to improve her communication! But my hands were tied. I'm just the foster mom. No one else had anything to say at the meeting. (That's probably why it only lasted for 42 minutes.) And, honestly, I was so dumbfounded that I didn't know what to say. I'm not really in a position to take on an established school system. Especially not as a foster mom. And really, the things they are proposing won't "hurt" Pumpkin. If the diagnostician is correct, they will be modifying these goals down so much that they might even help Pumpkin learn how to make choices and communicate better.
Nevertheless, I signed all the paperwork and was thankful that it didn't drag on for hours and hours. (I was under the impression that most ARD meetings take much, much longer than 42 minutes.) I have already spoken with Pumpkin's CPS worker about the realities of Pumpkin's developmental level. I have expressed my concern that bio mom isn't aware of the severity of Pumpkin's delays. I met with the CASA workers to let them know the same things. And I spoke in great detail with Pumpkin's GAL last week about all of this as well. It is up to these people to deal with Pumpkin's mom and to let her know that the goals the school is setting for her daughter are completely unrealistic. I've done my part the best that I can.
What a joke!