As the year goes on, I am beginning to see news about IEPs from many of the special needs folks whom I follow on various social networks. I do not envy them.
Namine, being home-schooled, does not require an IEP. But her schooling status is more complicated than merely “home-schooled,” so I’d like to take a moment to explain.
Namine attends a virtual public school located in Medford, Wisconsin. It’s a good four hour drive from us, but that’s not the important part. The school, Rural Virtual Academy, sends us nearly all of the supplies we need — all the books, plus quite a lot of other things, like materials for science, the laptop for video chat, that kind of thing.
Namine has a teacher employed by the school, but she really only talks with her a couple times a week, depending on her schedule and ours. The people in charge of doing the day to day stuff is us, primarily Jessica because I’m at work during the week. Jessica does the teaching, assigns the work, grades the tests.
It used to be that we had to pack up the worksheets and tests in envelopes (supplied by the RVA) and mail them off to Namine’s teacher. Now, though, things are a little more streamlined. Now, we can scan the sheets and send them via Google Docs. Sometimes technology is awesome.
When we first enrolled Namine in the RVA, she did have an IEP. It was really more of a leftover kind of thing, since we’d needed one when she was in 4K. The IEP had specified that Namine needed physical therapy at school, as well as assistance with her wheelchair and walker. As there was no physical building for Namine to attend, this requirement was unnecessary.
When we drive past Namine’s old school, sometimes she points it out. She does not appear to miss it, though. While it’s true that she doesn’t get nearly the amount of social interaction that she would if she attended a brick and mortar school, we do our best to get involved with as many field trips (which are put together by the RVA) as we can.
Participation in these field trips is limited mostly by Namine’s abilities, but we’ve never been on one where people didn’t try to accommodate her as much as possible. Case in point — when we went to the rock climbing place, the employee did all that he could to make Namine as comfortable as possible.
Our experience with the RVA is exactly what we wish Namine’s previous school experiences would have been. We know from experience (in our own schooling, as well as managing Namine’s) that sometimes you get a great teacher, and sometimes you don’t. We consider ourselves very fortunate to have found the RVA, and we’ve no doubt that if we did need an IEP with them, it would be a different, more positive outcome.