Testing Out of Special Education

Tom and I had a meeting with TJ’s preschool teachers this morning. We were supposed to be discussing the results of the speech evaluation and the Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) they conducted with him after the Christmas break. There had been an informational parents night last week about the transition to kindergarten. I thought it would be a “Yay! Your kid’s going to kindergarten!” type of meeting. I felt like the air was sucked out of my lungs when they started talking about advocating for your child during the transition from the Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) to the Committee on Special Education (CSE) and they started talking about independent classrooms and such. I spent most of the meeting trying not to cry, even though I knew that TJ would only need a little extra help, and not the drastic measures that some of the other parents were looking at.

So I got up early for the meeting this morning, and I know I’m going to have to lie back down at some point. I slept terribly last night. TJ kept saying that we were bringing him to school late, but it was actually half an hour early. He was a little confused to be the only kid there when we arrived, but he was happy to have the full run of the toys in the classroom while one of his teacher’s from last year supervised. We were taken into a smaller classroom.

Instead of just meeting with TJ’s academic teacher, Ms. Maryellen, we met with her and three others that included the special education teacher in his classroom, the school speech therapist, and one of the administrators.

“This is a good news meeting,” Maryellen said.

The speech therapist did two evaluations with TJ. On the first, he scored above average on all but one section. He scored average on the “following directions” section. We already knew that his grammar and sentence structure was impeccable, though. On the pragmatic language assessment, which is what the developmental behavioral pediatrician had requested last year, he scored a 75.  A score of 68 or lower indicates that a child is “at risk” and would require services. So no speech therapy.

Ms. Karen, the special education teacher in his classroom, did his FBA across four different days. He had the most trouble on the Wednesday after Christmas break, requiring more redirection during circle time and such, but the rest of the days were fine. They do still have some minor concerns about some of his social skills, but nothing that warrants special education services. He could still improve on working independently and not asking for help before he tries something, but he’s come a long way with his rigidity and coughing to avoid answering questions.

They asked about his occupational therapy and physical therapy, and we told them that he was testing out of those services, but they’ll keep him on until June. Tom mentioned that we still have concerns about his handwriting and drawing shapes, but apparently his inability to draw distinct shapes is typical. Most 4-year-olds struggle with corners and straight lines, so we shouldn’t worry that his triangles and squares look just like his circles. I was using drawings done by his cousin Kyle, who is five months older, as my benchmark. We’ve seen Kyle’s pictures of a praying mantis trying to eat a ladybug and a detailed map of the solar system… I guess Kyle is just way ahead of his time when it comes to putting pen to paper. TJ isn’t behind.

So TJ will enter kindergarten without being identified as a special education student. He’ll be going into a normal kindergarten classroom without being pulled out for speech therapy, occupational therapy, or physical therapy. Apparently he won’t even qualify for the afternoon program with the social skills group that would give him a whole day of school instead of a half day, which was something described to us at the parents night meeting last week.

The teachers suggested that we inform his occupational therapist that we’d like her to focus more on his handwriting while he still gets services. They also told us that it is completely up to us as to whether or not we tell his kindergarten teacher he has Asperger’s Syndrome. We could give her a heads up or we could see how it goes. Either way, they recommended we tell the teacher to call us right away if he seems to have any problems in class, and not wait to see what happens. I’m leaning toward telling his kindergarten teacher about his diagnosis, briefing her on his rigidity and how he is unwilling to attempt things without asking for help, but letting her know that I do expect him to succeed in school because he truly loves learning.

I know he’s made a lot of progress this year, and his teachers said that the month of March is usually quite magical for 4-year-olds, where they all bloom and shine more than ever. I just hope that the novelty of kindergarten isn’t too high a hurdle for him to overcome with his challenges-that-don’t-require-special-services. It will be much harder to go back in and ask for services from scratch than it would be to continue them from preschool.

But this was good news, and I should try not to worry so much about the what ifs. My son is testing out of special education. He’s not going to start public school with a label.

I’m proud of how far he’s come.

Christina Gleason (975 Posts)

That’s me: Christina Gleason. I’m a professional copywriter, editor, and blogger. My company is called Phenomenal Content. (Hire me!) I'm a multiply disabled autistic woman doing my best in this world built for abled people. I’m a geek for grammar, fantasy, and select types of gaming, including Twitch Sings and Plants vs Zombies 2. I hate vegetables. I have an intense phone phobia, so I’ll happily conduct business over email or IM instead.


  1. Congratulations on TJ’s IEP being dissolved. NHL’s was also able to do this before heading into kindergarten. It was a huge goal of ours. Since NHL has low muscle tone and was still behind in fine motor skills, he qualified for non-IEP services. They have goals, but nothing as strict as an IEP. Right now we are waiting to do testing to see if they will recommend continued services with OT/PT for next year. My fear is the amount of writing goes WAY up in 2nd grade and he tires easily from the low tone in his muscles. We shall see. Remember if you feel the least bit uneasy about no services (OT/PT) you have options and can tell them you know about it.

  2. That’s great news about your recent meeting at TJ’s school. I know you’ve been worried about his programs and therapies and how great to know that he has made such progress. And congratulations to you for your good parenting!

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