How old am I?
Many people are unable to guess just how old Breanna is. So how old did you guess she is? 10? 11? 8? Wrong, wrong, and wrong, and I am pretty sure your guess was wrong too. She is 17, and a Senior in High School.
Don't get me wrong, because most people don't actually know her age and just assume it, she can occasionally get into places free or for a reduced price, she still eats off the kids meal menus (which is just enough food for her), and she will always be our 'little' kid. How many parents get to have their kids stay 'little' FOR-EVER?!?! We, when she allows it, still snuggle, we still watch cartoons and kiddie movies, she isn't into hanging with her friends and doesn't have the 'latest' gadgets to keep her entertained, although she is becoming a pro of taking and using my iPhone to play her games.
In an attempt to help Breanna catch up with her peers in time for Kindergarten, Breanna started school at age 3. Yes this little 25 pound little girl, who had been walking for less than 1 year, was crawling up the steps of her bus.
Since she has been in a special ed classroom her entire school career, each year her teacher(s) set goals for her to accomplish. These goals have usually been set towards the end of each school year between April and June, which allows her teachers for the next year to know in advance of what Breanna is capable of doing and what the goal(s) are to continue her progress in these areas. These goals are written in an IEP (Individualized Education Program).
An IEP is designed to meet the unique educational needs of one child, who may have a disability, as defined by federal regulations. The IEP is intended to help children reach educational goals more easily than they otherwise would. The IEP should describe how the student learns, how the student best demonstrates that learning and what teachers and service providers will do to help the student learn more effectively. Key considerations in developing an IEP include assessing students in all areas related to the known disabilities, simultaneously considering ability to access the general curriculum, considering how the disability affects the student’s learning, developing goals and objectives that correspond to the needs of the student.
Because all schools and all school districts are NOT created equal, anytime Breanna changes schools we also have to update her IEP to meet that states and districts requirements. Although we have been in Washington since July, and have, or so I thought, gotten Breanna's school all the information they needed, her IEP was finally completed last week. Yesterday I met with her teacher, her PE teacher, the school psychologist, and her speech therapist to discuss her previous IEP and how that was transformed into her new IEP.
Disabled children have the opportunity to attend school until they are 21, unlike other children who tend to graduate high school between the ages of 17 and 19. With all school districts Breanna has attended thus far, she would have remained in her same high school class from age 14 to 21. Her new school district, however is different. During her IEP yesterday, I was asked if Breanna will be walking for graduation, as this is her senior year and she will be receiving her high school diploma in June.
Now I am questioning if I should let her participate in walking with her graduating class or not?
Regardless of our final decision, Breanna will be able to participate in an accomplishment/ award ceremony and party that will be held in her classroom with other graduating special ed seniors. Then she will transfer to a new program, located in another building on campus, to continue her education and help her prepare for a more independent life.