Reading and Writing 10/2009: A [District]Public Schools reading and writing evaluation was conducted in 2009.
Brooke’s performance on the Written Language portion of this test showed that her written skills are an area of strength when compared with other students of her age. She was able to copy and spell many words and sentences for her age group. The examiner chose to stop testing when the linguistic demand on the written tasks increased (such as sentence combining). Although decreasing the item set is permitted for a student of Brooke’s age, this reduction of test items did affect her score in the area of meaningful content.
Brooke is likely to need extra support with decoding unknown words, retelling stories, and understanding content (comprehension) as the demands in literacy increase.
I am not able to talk out of my mouth, however I have found another way to communicate by spelling on my computer. (and yes that is me typing on the computer by myself)
I used to think I was the only kid with autism who communicates by spelling but last year I met a group of kids that communicate the same way. In fact some are even faster at typing then I am.
The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible. ~Vladimir Nabakov
For the past three years, we’ve had our sights trained on opening the world of reading to our girl. And it’s working. Her team is amazing and with the fearsome combination of their knowledge and dedication and her tenacity, the proof is now, as they say, in the pudding.
But reading is only half the equation. Literacy is about, as it says right there on the name of the evaluation, reading AND writing. Because we were all so focused on reading, writing didn’t get a whole lot of mention whenever we sat down to hash out her goals.
When we first met to start the Oh So Pleasant Process of hashing out next year’s IEP, I brought up the idea of a separate writing goal. The team pointed to the reading goal. Yup, saw that, thank you. Looking for a writing goal.
“It’s in there,” they said. “With reading. It’s all intertwined.”
Yup. I see that. Not what I mean.
I asked for a separate writing goal. It’s an area of strength, I explained. It’s an avenue for self-expression for a kid who struggles with language. I think it warrants its own goal.
The team said that honestly, they thought that she wasn’t quite there yet. I know that it was hard for them to say that. It’s a tough response to a starry-eyed mom. I appreciated their honesty. But where she was in that moment wasn’t the point. Where she had the ability to be in twelve months was.
I said, ‘That’s OK, she doesn’t have to be there yet. But this is a year-long document. And given not only her progress to date, but the intensive support that she’s getting from all of you, I think we have to assume that she WILL be there within a year’s time. On a lot of levels, I think it’s vital for us to function on the basis that this is what we’re working toward.”
I didn’t ask for anything grand. Didn’t need to have her writing novels by the end of fourth grade. But I wanted something in that document to acknowledge that writing was an achievable goal. Three years ago, it had been identified as a strength. This was something that this kid was going to be able to do. Easily? No. With support? Hell yes. We just had to agree that we thought that she could.
Once I’d explained my thinking, the team was on board. Sometime within twelve months, they agreed, this would be necessary. I signed the IEP on Friday.
Goal #4 — Specific Goal Focus: Written Expression
Current Performance Level: What can the student currently do? Currently Brooke is working on writing prompts within the classroom setting. With use of a visual organizer, such as ‘EmPower’, Brooke is in the beginning stages of developing a writing piece. With cueing, prompting and verbal rehearsal, Brooke is able to develop a topic sentence and 3 supporting facts to support her main idea. Brooke benefits from visual reminders for the editing process.
Measurable Annual Goal: What challenging, yet attainable goal can we expect the student to meet by the end of this IEP period? How will we know that the student has reached this goal? With use of visual tools and organizers, Brooke will increase her ability to create a writing piece that includes a beginning, middle and end having to do with a preferred or prompted writing topic in 4 out of 5 opportunities.
It was a rainy weekend in Boston. There wasn’t a whole lot to do outside the house, so we spent a fair amount of time just hangin’ around. Katie spent far too much time on her iTouch, but Miss Brooke made good use of the time.
The following were done absolutely, positively, completely independently. No prompts, no help. Nothing. All her.
There are very few times on this journey that we are able to say, “I just know.” That we are able to look across a table at the people who have the degrees and the knowledge and the experience to know better and to simply say, “I’m sorry guys, but I just know.”
Sometimes, no matter how much we may doubt ourselves in every other aspect of parenting our wondrous kids, there’s a voice that pops up from deep within the Mama Gut that says, “We’re selling my kid short and that’s not OK.”
And when we hear that voice, we’ve got to heed it. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding.
Or perhaps, the porridge.