So today - 10 people and myself sat in a room to talk about how Finley is doing now, and any concerns we had. The staff that attended the meeting (from counselors to the nurse to OT to Special ed) all had great questions and took wonderful notes about our girl. I felt like with (most of) the people that were there - they truly understood our concerns and wants for Finley next year.
I say most.
But more on that later. First, I want to tell you what some of the things we are looking for next year. We want braille instruction, of course. This is a given. A TVI (teacher of the vision impaired) two to three times a week. She will need orientation and movement a few times a month. Her books need to be enlarged to a 36 point, or a CCTV can be used. Counseling about what is happening to her. And of course, promoting independence as much as possible.
This seems like it will be possible. The school also wants her to have an OT evaluation, and they want to do some basic Kindergarten screenings on her to rule out other needs. (which we know she doesn't have). Her BESB teacher will be there with her during the test, so she can determine if the tests are big enough for Finley to see, or if they need to be enlarged.
Before the meeting started today, the Special Education director and myself sat and waited for the others. She asked about Finley. Then from there - things went a little crazy. She said "I understand Finley has vision". I nodded. She then said "well then I guess Braille won't be necessary". I explained to her that Finley's condition is degenerative and that - unless a cure happens - she will be completely blind, so BESB wants her to learn Braille right from the beginning. But the special education director still felt that there is so much "on tape" and "digital" books these days, that Braille probably isn't going to be used much more.
Okay - I did my BEST to not make funny faces at her. But it was hard. She apparently wasn't thinking this all the way through. So - I brought up
OKay - so let me get this straight. Instead of Finley learning to READ, she should listen to all books digitally. Uh huh. Where did you GET this degree of yours?
Sigh. It was just frustrating. Once the meeting started, things got better. The two people from BESB that were there squashed her whole "doesn't need to learn braille" ideas, and said that was part of their cirriculum for vision impaired students no matter what. So she relented. Sort of. We will see what happens when we come to the table in a few months.
We also discussed Finley not coming out of the 1/2 day Kindergarten class for OT services or Braille instruction. At a lot of other schools that BESB services, the children learn braille before or after school so that it doesn't interfere with their day. And then there is a room set up at the school for all the equipment the kids might need during the day.
(do you like Finley's bow? Etsy)
Again - Special Ed piped up that they do not have an extended day program so that Finley couldn't stay after school to learn braille or before school. The only time she could come was DURING the day - before afternoon Kindergarten. So, I kindly asked if the school was willing to transport her because she will be at a local daycare for the morning because I work.
No answer. Yeah...that's what I thought.
Eye roll with this one. I am sure it will work out, but again - she just assumed that Finley would be getting this extra instruction OUTSIDE of school or during school hours. Braille instruction lasts for 1 hour. 1 hour out of a 3 hour Kindergarten day isn't going to happen. She would miss to much, and I will just not allow it.
But BESB was great - they will come up with a solution, even if it means that she does it at the local daycare. And that is fine as long as the daycare can find a quiet environment for her to practice.
So, this special ed. teacher and I may have a problem. I am just not sure yet. I just think she THINKS she knows what Finley needs, when she has no idea. The school hasn't ever had a vision impaired student, and even if they did, every child with vision issues is different and needs different things. The Spec. ed. teacher brought up how in the past she worked with the kid that needed a CCTV, and that is all he ever needed and they were able to handle that. But that kid was never going to lose his vision. He will always be a sighted person. So he and Finley are NOT the same.
Disclaimer: One of my best friends is a special education teacher. I think that Special education teachers are amazing and insightful. One person, and her slanted views, does not make ALL in a profession the same.
See you tomorrow.