Friday, November 21, 2008

A Single Goal

I should probably call this post "A Single Goal: or, More Cosmic Convergence."

Way back in August, Barbara wrote a post at TherExtras that criticized the hodgepodge that often results when too many experts are trying to accomplish too many things with a child:

What I don’t commonly see - or have not seen most of 30 years – are concentrated efforts to learn one skill at a time. I don’t hear or read families that do this. I’ve never seen an IEP that said “this school year Aloysius will be potty trained” or “Esperanza will learn to feed herself” – not at the preschool level, not at the kindergarten level, not at the elementary level.

How many high school students in special education do you estimate I’ve met who cannot do either toileting or feed themselves without assistance?

As I told Barbara at the time, Joy has a standard multi-faceted IEP, chock full of various goal areas for her therapists to address with her.

But even before the school year started, I had a conversation with Joy's school-district team leader. Unprompted, she told me that she had a thought for a single overarching goal for Joy this year, IEP complexity notwithstanding. That concept was: imitation.

Though it was a different angle than the single movement-oriented and task-oriented kind of goal that Barbara presented, there was power in that single simple-yet-not-so-simple idea of imitation. It has been a useful touchstone throughout the semester so far.

So then yesterday morning I once again had the chance to hang out with the incomparable Mama Mara. We got to talking about our respective blogs and I was musing on some of the posts I'd been meaning to do, and mentioned the single-goal thing. Her eyes lit up with cosmic-convergence connectedness, and she told me about her son's case manager at last week's parent teacher conference asking her the single-goal question: if you picked just one goal for your son this year, what would it be? I am terminally impressed that Mama Mara had an answer at the ready: that he would be able to get a handle on the "stuff" he needed to get through the day, keeping track of coat and backpack and such.

And thus do good ideas meet, shake hands, and ripple back out into the blogosphere...

4 comments:

jesswilson said...

we don't come up with a single goal (other than the overarching idea of kendall being happy and enjoying all aspects of her life .. yes, that's in her iep) but we do tend to identify themes that connect the various goals within disparate disciplines and focus on them.

a good example of this is 'reducing adult dependence'. across the board, we look for her to reference her peers for cues and guidance. it stretches from recess to OT to circle time to math exercises. 'managing anxiety' is another - tackling the most insidiously pervasive challenge that effects, well, EVERYTHING.

oh, and i am so envious that you and mama mara get to 'hang out.' waaaaah.

Mama Mara said...

I was there when we had this conversation, and I still got chills. You conveyed the "wowness" of these cosmic convergences perfectly.

Eat your heart out, everyone, I get to hang out with Ms. Elvis!

Niksmom said...

Mama Mara, it's not nice to rub it in! :-p ;-)

It's funny; I remember trying to introduce this concept into Nik's first IEP and got brushed off with "Oh, we do that anyway." If I had it to do over (and I may one day if I move to a different school district), I'd know to stand my ground and tell them that was all well and good but I want it in writing.

therextras said...

I think JM and MM have started a little social competition here...if you get to meet a blogger-friend in person, well, your blogger status is elevated!

I'm right there with you - planning to meet a blogger friend tomorrow!

Thanks for the shout-out, JM. I look forward to reading about Joy's progress in imitation - after bell choir season, of course.