Thoughtful Thursday: The Annual ARD

Next week brings Anna’s annual ARD meeting. For the uninitiated, this is a meeting that takes place once a year whereupon a vast team of people get together and decide what goals your special needs/special education child should work on for the following year. It can be a daunting, humbling, scary, and overwhelming meeting, especially in the early years. Our ARD meetings usually have 10-14 people in attendance! We started this process when Anna turned three and was placed in the PPCD program (argh, lots of acronyms right? PPCD = preschool program for children with disabilities, ARD = annual review and dismissal). This will be our 7th meeting… the 4th at our current school with her current team. Luckily for me (and through a lot of hard work and research), I have a great team surrounding Anna and there is no friction in the group. I got the first pass of new goals yesterday to review and had a discussion with her Life Skills teacher this morning about them.

I want to take a moment to interject how happy I am that we moved Anna from Inclusion to Life Skills earlier this year. I was scared about this move (remember THIS post?) and was skeptical that it would be good for her. Well, long story short, it has been a good move. She is much happier, her behavior has vastly improved, and she is able to learn and work on her goals.

All in all, the new goals look fine. There are some that are too simple (like in Social Studies, recite the city and state in which she resides) so I pushed back on those and they will be updated, but most of them are fine. Her speech therapist feels like Anna has met most of her speech goals and is now going to focus on social skills. I think her articulation still needs work so I’ll inquire about that during the meeting. Her ST is very progressive and is constantly on the look out for new techniques and therapies, so we feel pretty blessed to have her on our side.

It sounds cliché, but it really does take a village to raise a child, especially one with special needs. It’s important to have a group of professionals working in the best interests of your child, so as parents it’s equally important to advocate for what those interests are. Since Anna is now in third grade and about to turn ten, I’ve started including her in these discussions. At our last meeting when we changed her placement, I had her join us during the last few minutes. We told her about the plan and got her input and buy-in. We cannot forget that SHE is the center of these meetings, yknow?

I’m glad we’re at a place where the annual ARD doesn’t beget dread but instead is a relatively easy discourse on how best to help my daughter at school. That’s the way it should be.

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