The Transistion Meeting-Sensory Processing Disorder
Why Are We Having A Meeting??
Recently we got to experience the first step in transitioning Chloe out of her current First Steps program into the local school system. Here in Indiana, children who qualify for services get assistance through a program called First Steps until the day before their third birthday. Once children turn 3, they are then transferred into the local school system for assistance(therapy, school, etc.) Before this can happen you have to participate in a meeting with someone from the school to determine what steps need to be taken and what options you may have for your little one.
I can tell you at the first talk of this "meeting" I was freaking out. You are your child's advocate and you hear so many horror stories of what goes on at the transitional meeting and if you haven't you will. I can't tell you how many stories I have seen that involve children with Sensory Processing Disorder and the hurdles they have to go through to get services.This is highly due to lack of knowledge and the lack of having Sensory Processing Disorder be a stand alone diagnoses it can be difficult for your child to get assistance through the schools and if you do you have to fight them every step of the way. You can imagine how panicked I was to go into this meeting. However, I wanted to share my experience because I feel that it wasn't a bad experience and although we are not done with the process the first step was not as "scary" as I anticipated it to be and I wanted to let other parents know that not all meetings are bad and you don't always have to go into the meeting "swords blazing" so to speak.
The biggest weapon you can bring when entering ANY meeting, but especially your transition meeting is to be prepared! I asked lots of questions. I asked Chloe's speech therapist, her occupational therapist, researched on line, spoke with other parents. Whatever, it takes to get information and come to the meeting prepared.
Know your child!! Know what your child needs, and what works best for your child. Break out those notebooks that you have been keeping, make a list of activities that work best for your child. What environment you think will work best for your child. You have been working with your child, you know your child the best. This is your time to shine, all that work you have put in, all the information you have gathered watching your child for signs, triggers, helpers, seekers, avoiders. I went back through all my notes, made new notes, looked over everything the therapists had wrote down in their reports. You have to remember that in most cases the person who is coming or meeting with you from the school doesn't know your child and if they have any information it is just a snap shot of information.
Keep an open mind. This meeting is to give you information about your choices as a parent for your child. This helped me and I can't say I did it by myself. I spoke with Chloe's speech therapist A LOT about the upcoming meeting. Keeping an open mind was something she suggested and keep it realistic. She has many years working in the school system before she became a private therapist and so she was very helpful. School systems have limited funds and have limited facilities, not that they do not offer good therapist and good support for your special needs kids you just have to be aware that they probably are not sporting top of the line therapy equipment, they are a public school. The reality is the school, if it is a good school, will do the best they can for your child. Give the schools a chance to, at the very least, lay out what they have for your child and the services they can provide before you make any decisions.
What Happens Next?
The day of the meeting arrived and I felt prepared and certainly nervous, but the meeting was at my house. Chloe and me were present and there was a representative from the school and one from First Steps(the program I mentioned above). Everyone got settled and the meeting was basically an information share. I shared my Chloe with the school representative and she shared what options Chloe has available to her and what our next steps will be and how we need to proceed. As I said Chloe has a couple options that will be available to her when she turns 3 which is rapidly approaching. The only speed bump that came out of the meeting was the realization that Chloe has an early summer birthday so once she transitions she will be without services until the school year starts. Luckily, I was able to talk to the school about this and there are ways that we can get service through the school if Chloe shows signs of regression. However, if she does not then we will have to go through private insurance to pay for her therapy over the summer.
The next step is to get with your insurance company see what they will pay for over the summer months if that is something your need to do or if you have a situation similar to Chloe's. We are now being scheduled for official testing with the school system. This will start new worries and concerns and I intend to share our experience with the testing once we have completed it, to my understanding the school system will have their therapists test Chloe in a variety of areas to see what program specifically she will qualify for and we are working to see if she will need assistance over the summer. I know that I want her to have both and so we are working with the insurance company to get her sessions covered in a private practice and have her work over the summer with the school system. My thinking is that our sensory kiddos struggle with transition, therefore, going into a classroom environment with other kids that have special needs could be a slow process. She needs to get used to the idea before she starts going 5 days a week. This is something you should keep in mind during these meetings as well and let them know if your sensory kiddo has problems with adjusting to new surroundings and new routines.
I plan on sharing our next steps involving the testing portion and if any of you have questions in regards to anything I have shared please feel free to leave a comment of send me a message. These meetings can be scary and draining, but following the steps above really helped me out and in return helped Chloe out!! Please stayed tuned for more blogs from me regarding our beautiful Chloe and our trip through the Sensory Processing Disorder!!