We had the follow-up meeting with the school last week. This one was to go over the evaluations and determine if Mariah was eligible for special-ed. Phillip took off from work early so he could attend. I was at home with the sleeping kiddos (naptime) so I couldn't go, but I have the reports. We were pretty pleased overall with the assessment results. I feel like several people really did take the time to understand Mariah and try to "get" where she has been to understand why she is where she is now.
She was found to have a 46% delay in fine motor manipulation, a 29% delay in fine motor writing, a 45% delay in fine motor matching, a 30% delay in cognitive counting, and a 63% delay in gross-motor object movement. This puts her on average at about a 30 month level with some things being higher and some being lower but this is exactly where the OT at the Kluge Center said she was so I feel its fairly accurate.
Her cognitive and early academic skills are below average as well. She actually placed in the bottom 5% on the YCAT for her age though which makes me happy because that means that there are other kids who were born in this country with English as a first language that she actually scored on a chart with! I find that a great indicator for her future!
Of course she had no idea how to answer a question like "Why should you be careful around fire?" She just has not had the exposure to the language and the environment enough to put that particular phrase together in English. In Russian, she may have been able too... but right now her reasoning probably exceeds her vocabulary. She has lost Russian, the language she knew how to express feelings, thoughts, memories and experiences in and now only has English which is coming along great, but is not to the conversational level she had in Russian.
The social worker wrote up a report that really was just the information that Phillip gave her the day she came out. Everything says "Per her father" or "According to Mr. Johnson" which kind of cracks me up... what if Phillip was a blatent liar?? Obviously, he's not lol! A lot of it is actually incorrect anyways (she wrote it down wrong), but it doesn't really matter. I was worried about her, but she really didn't give any input. Our social worker from our homestudy agency told us that the school social worker was supposed to be THE person advocating for the child in this situation, but umm... yeah... I am just so not sure what exactly the purpose of the social worker here was. We were told that she was making sure our home environment wasn't contributing to Mariah's delays. I guess that is exactly what she did LOL Her tone certainly put us on edge for what could have been a much less stressful process!
We will have a meeting with the school this month to write an IEP for Pre-K. I think making sure that we put out there what we want for Mariah really was a good decision. I wasn't sure we knew what we wanted, but I know what we didn't so after doing some research and reading other people's blogs (where I learn SO much!) we came up with a game plan for what we think will work. We will see how the IEP gets written and if we are ok with it, Mariah will start school in the fall. If we're not happy with it, then we have other options available :) We definitely want her in PRE-K, not Kindergarten. The cutoff date is Sept. 30 and Mariah's BD is Sept. 7 so technically she is old enough for kindy, but absolutely not ready. I think we will be allowed to start her a year back though.
It really does help to see test results on paper that show where she is behind. Some things I know are a direct result of losing a language and not being exposed to things a homegrown 4 year old would have been; and the psychologist did say that Mariah had a greater potential than the results indicated because she has been so understimulated her entire life. Its obvious when people meet her that she is quite bright, but just clueless about things she hasn't seen before. So its good to know that people realize her background has caused most of her delays.
Whew! So its been a process and its not over yet. Some of it has been very stressful for Mariah and that was hard for us to see. We want the best for her but its hard to have to subject her to things that make her uncomfortable. I think our school system has not had much experience with internationally adopted, previously institutionlized children; but most people did make an effort to understand even if it was after meeting Mariah, and I can see that in the evaluations they wrote.
Tips for making it through the IEP process:
Do not freak out over a snippy social worker. We've all been through every background check on the planet and issued a favorable homestudy by a licensed agency. Its the social worker's loss if they don't take the time to educate themselves and further develop their talents as an advocate for ALL children.
Write your child's bio and send it to the school WITH the request for evaluations. Request that a copy be given to everyone involved BEFORE they meet with you and your child.
Don't sweat the things your kid has no idea about, even if (like us) you feel like they probably did know some of them in Russian but were not tested in time to actually know for sure. It doesn't mean they aren't capable of learning them later on (or picking it up in English) and if you have a competent person doing the testing, they will realize this as well.
Be FIRM about what you and your child are comfortable with doing and do NOT let anyone persuade you otherwise. It is in everyone's best interest that you and your child are comfortable with the enviroment and circumstances of the evaluations.
Be nice even if you feel like you just got accused of being a bad parent. Good parents bite their tongue and explain their story for the 19579475th time and then go blog about their frustrations to the rest of the internet :)