Friday, April 24, 2009

Painful Transitions

Today we all met with Ammon's IEP team. IEP means Individualized Education Plan. Any child that has any kind of disability, whether it's mental or physical, has the right to an IEP. A group of people assemble that will work with the child during the school year. The parents, the child and any one else that's interested in the child's progression are invited. Goals are set and then reviewed. We usually have two a year for Ammon. This year was a major one for Ammon because he is transitioning from elementary school to junior high next year. He will also be leaving some of his best friends. Half his friends will go to school in Spanish Fork next year. (That includes John and Devin.) Ammon has to go to school in Payson or he won't be able to ride a bus and we need that service. His friends in the ward will be in school with him, but this is a very big transition.
We met the special ed coordinator/teacher from the new school at the meeting today. She seems to be very much on the ball and I think she will be a great teacher for Ammon.
What makes this a painful transition is that we will be leaving behind some people that have become very dear and special to all of us. I looked around the table at all the people that have helped Ammon in so many ways. Keri Minson has been with him the longest. She has been one of his aides since 1st grade. She has seen him change from a timid, unhappy little kid to an outgoing child that loves school. She has been the major contributor to his improved handwriting skills as she keeps telling him to "do it over until I can read it." She has been his friend most of all and one of his biggest supporters in all he does. Mrs. Swenson has really helped us make some mental transitions as to where Ammon's abilities really are and what can be expected of him. She has guided us throughout the last several years and has loved Ammon fully. Mrs. Glen has worked hard with him through speech; Leca Hicken is his caseworker for DSPD and has been hugely (!) helpful in so many areas. Mrs. Turner has been Ammon's regular classroom teacher and although he doesn't spend a lot of time in her room, she has been wonderful with him and given him every reason to like being in her room. Mr. Scholenberger (the principal) knows all the legal jargon and has been supportive with the entire team in finding ways to help Ammon. He, too, has a son with severe disabilities and so he knows what we are experiencing and he is way ahead of us in the transition periods of our kids' lives. Jennifer Stoker is the school nurse and she is also a member of our ward. She has been helpful with medical questions and is one of the sweetest people we've ever met. Annette Gebert is another of Ammon's aides and has been for two years. She is very kind and gentle with Ammon and he adores her. Maybe she's been too kind on occasion. :) We don't know the speech therapist well, but he has worked hard with Ammon this year and we appreciate what he does.
How does one give appropriate thanks to people like this that have loved our son like their own? Thank you seems so inadequate, but our hearts are full of thanks for the great experiences Ammon has had in school with these people. There was a point in his early school experience that we felt like pulling him out because he would come home so unhappy, having been told he was a naughty boy and he simply didn't understand why he was told that. Through the years, his abilities and personality has become defined so we all know who he is and what he can do. He loves going to school! He never wants to miss a day. What a change we've all seen in the past seven years! I attribute a great deal of that positive change to a great team at Foothills Elementary School. We love you and will miss you like crazy! We have confidence in Ammon's adaptability to believe he is going to go on for more great experiences.
Thank you to all for giving him a great foundation!


Gillian Clark said...

Man I love Ammon so much! He is such an amazing example to everyone who ever comes in contact with him. Who wouldn't want to work with this amazing child?! I am very lucky to be his sister- his favorite one at that :) Love you Ammster!


Mike and Adrianne said...

Ammon, what a great adventure to move on to Middle school. I can't believe you are at that point already. I have been thinking a lot about transitions lately because we have moved and one thing I keep reminding myself is that there are good people every where on this earth and no matter where I move, Heavenly Father will place people in my path to help me along on my journey. I miss my friends so much already and I am worried I won't see them again but I also know that good friends will always be friends and one day if we all make it, we will see each other in heaven even if I never see them again here.

So, I know it will be hard to say goodbye to all your friends and teachers and aids but remember that they love you so much and that you will see them again (they just live in the town next to you!) and that there will be wonderful people at your new school that will love you also.

We can be in the same boat together and give each other encouragement and comfort, OK? Here is to making new friends and keeping our old friends.

Gayle Menlove said...

What an amazing support team Ammon has had! It has been a blessing for him and no doubt, he has blest their lives as well. The love and growth has gone both ways.