A Plan for Zak

Our little Zak has been in school now for a little over a month. Most of his days have been half days; but we have been transitioning into full school days. He is loving school. One of the reasons he has been in school for the half days is so that a team of professionals can test and evaluate him. Because of his unique and special needs it is mandatory for the state to run an evaluation if we so request. We have been hesitant to open this door; but through prayer and counsel felt that God was leading in this direction. Testing and Evaluation started a little over a month ago.
Hours and hours of testing have been done. I have sat in on some of the test and watched as they ran went through the questions. I have come into school at the lunch hour and watched him working with his physical therapist. The tests there were physically challenging for him and I enjoyed watching what they were testing for and his endurance level as they did their evaluation.

Well, yesterday was the date set to go over all the results from the team of professionals. It was the day I had been waiting for since we started down this road. The day when everything is laid on the table, so to speak, and we are able to see exactly where he is at developmentally. If all the professionals come to the table and in their area of experience reveal that their testing revealed areas of delay, an IEP is set in place for his academic year. So, I headed to the school yesterday at 10:30 for his IEP meeting. I knew there would be a lot of people there; because there have been a lot of people who have tested him. I also knew that they would be talking about what they had found with Zak’s abilities.

I told myself that this could be discouraging to spend an hour or so listening to a team of people tell you what is wrong with your child. I prepped myself for the meeting; but was a bit nervous about it. For as nervous as I was about it, I was that excited. For years we have been working with Zak and have come to a brick wall. We just cannot get him any further. We have been stuck, so to speak. So there was an excitement within me as I knew that I would find out exactly what was wrong and listen to the different people talk about what we need to do to get him to the next step. I headed to the meeting with mixed emotions and with questions in my head.

The meeting had to be moved to a different room because of the amount of people that we present at the meeting. That made my nervousness increase by leaps and bounds! I told myself to stop moving my feet around and stop twitching my hands and biting my lips. (All of my nervous habits that come to the surface when I feel vulnerable). Then the meeting was started, one of the school staff who I have worked with a lot started the meeting. It was comforting to hear her voice and to have her assure me that these meetings can be a bit overwhelming and that if I needed a break anytime in the meeting I could call for one. She also explained that they all have come to really enjoy and like Zak and that while they were talking about the problems they wanted me to be assured that the saw the good things too. I took a deep breath and we started the meeting.

Paperwork upon paperwork was handed to me from the different departments that had evaluated Zak. There was speech and language, and advocate for the deaf and hard of hearing, physical therapist, occupational therapist, a school psychologist, the third grade teacher, special education teacher, the head of special education department in our county, the school principle and an autism specialist, and audiologist. Each of them took their turn and showing me where Zak landed on their test scores and gave their evaluation findings to me in paper form (my stack kept growing). In every department Zak scored seriously delayed. At first I felt overwhelmed with the charts in front of me; because it revealed why we have been having such struggles with moving forward with his education. The line for ‘normal and average’ was highlighted and Zak’s lines were far from the colored part of the page.

The autism specialist revealed that he indeed is on the autism spectrum and falls on the severe side autistic. (This surprises people because Zak is so vocal and loves being around people!). They also diagnosed him with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. This combined with the autism can be quite challenging in knowing not only how to take him to the next level; but even what the next level is for him. Speech showed that his speech problems are not due to his hearing loss; but rather due to the neurological problems that he has present in his brain.

This was all the ‘bad news’, if seeing the facts is ever really bad news. Seems to me when you know right where you are – when you are staring truth right in the face – you are empowered to be able to move forward. So, with the truth sitting right there in front of me I felt charged with a new unction that I have not felt in a long time with Zak. OK – where do we go from here?

Then they started the other part of the meeting. This was where they pulled out their plans and started with where we are sitting right on the table they started handing over the sheets that showed where they wanted to go; and then (this is the good part) how they are going to plan to get there. When we walked away from the table a plan was set in place just for him. All in all the meeting lasted over 2 ½ hours. I left exhausted from all the information; but also charged with a new hope.

So, in the next two weeks we will be transitioning Zak into a different part of the school. He will be changing teachers, classrooms and will have a new aid for most of his day. He will be included in a normal third grade classroom for one subject a day and for recess. During this time his aid will work one on one with him. (This is good for Zak; because he loves his Mrs. G.) In two weeks time everything will be in place to start him on a new course that has been set for him.

I write this post to tell you, not only about the meeting and findings, but to ask you to pray for Zak. This is all different for him. He is going to have some issues with the changes; but they are changes that need to be made for his good. For example, he will use a different door to go into school. (This caused a major breakdown this morning when I dropped him off. Handling change does not go well for Zak). So, he could use your prayers in the next two weeks. Pray that he will have a peace of God in his little heart that will free him from the anxiety that comes with change. Pray for him to connect with is new aid. The first weekend that followed his start of school was really hard for us and for Zak. We entered into crisis mode with Zak for several days due to the issues that arose at home with his feeling overwhelmed. The same might happen again here for a couple of weeks. Pray that we have the patience to work with him and see him through this.

I end this post to tell you that at the table, surrounded by all these professionals they all said that Zak is one of the most well behaved children that they have seen come in with his issues. They also said that it was obvious that we love Zak very much and that we have ‘poured ourselves’ into him. Somehow, hearing this was such an encouragement to me. We have struggled and worked with him so much. It was so exciting to see that we have made a difference in Zak’s life and to know that people can see, that despite the challenges, we love Zak more than even we can explain in words. Because of our love for him we have to try everything we can to take him as far as he can go. I am thankful that God has provided us with a team of people to come along side and help us in our endeavor.

So, we begin this new phase. I cannot tell you how excited I am to start taking this next step with Zak, and I thank you for your prayers in the next two weeks.

Thanks so much for stopping by. I love to have friends vist. :)

1 comment:

Shirley said...

Martie, just catching up on your life. I so enjoyed reading this post about Zac. The IEP's will get easier each year but not necessarily shorter. :-) I still meet for 2 - 2 1/2 hours each year with my Thomas's team. I am thrilled to hear that it sounds like the Lord has blessed you with a FABULOUS school for Zac. Not all schools are like that!! We too are blessed to have a great place for Thomas to be and learn. Thank you for sharing your heart on this matter and may the Lord continue to guide and bless you as you seek His will for Zac every step of the way. :-)