Maybe It Makes Me a Bitch, But I'm OK With That

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Last week I attended a seminar called Tackling Transition put on by my local Early Intervention office.  After the mini dwama surrounding my poorly coordinated transition meeting, I figured it couldn't hurt to attend the presentation to make sure my service coordinator hadn't left out anything else important. And they brought in reps from all the local school districts to allow for one on one Q&A sessions - bonus.

- Illinois state regulation is to provide parents with transition info a minimum of 6 months prior to aging out, including a transition workbook
- the workbook outlines the 6 step transition process (essentially, a serious of 6 meetings and decision points)
- my coordinator was nearly 2 months late scheduling the transition meeting
- even after I requested she provide me with any pertinent reading materials ahead of said late meeting, she said I didn't need to read anything  and she'd bring the transition book to the meeting
- the meeting, it turns out, was step 3 of the 6 step transition process, and halfway through the 50 page transition workbook

The only thing that was keeping me sane was A) having gone online, found the book and read it the night before and B) the knowledge that no real decisions are supposed to be made at the transition meeting.

Except that at my transition meeting, they essentially did the Domain Review (step 4 of 6 in the book) and decided to move forward with granting him evaluations!  A genuine reason to be upset about not being provided with ANY information ahead of time.  A HA. YUGE. decision about his future was made in the "meeting where nothing would be decided" and that my coordinator claimed I did not need to be prepared for.  Thankfully it was a decision in his favor, and the best one I could have hoped for.

So. It's the Q&A at the end of the transition seminar and I'm waiting in line to check in with my school district contact. And I notice the presenter - who happens to be the head of the entire EI program - had no one to talk to.

I'm not afraid to talk to anyone for a friendly chat, but I will chew off my arm to avoid any kind of confrontation.  I stood there in the meeting room for several minutes - most likely looking like a crazy person - while the voices in my head debated telling her about my experience.

I opted for telling her.

I told her I didn't want to get anyone in trouble, just that I felt it was important they understand what a traumatic experience it had been for our family.  I explained how it went down, and that I happen to be a detail oriented, by the book person who sought out the information on my own because I am nuts that way.  I explained that the average parent was not going to be digging into obscure department of education websites at midnight trying to get the information we'd been deprived of.  The average family is going to trust the coordinator, walk into that meeting blind and feel like they were hit by a truck.

I let her know how the meeting went, that decisions were made I should have been prepared for by my coordinator (not to mention the reading material I'd been denied) and that I was very concerned other families might be having the same experience.

She was genuinely surprised that I didn't get the book - she said their goal really is to get it to us a minimum of 6 months in advance.  She apologized profusely and said she hoped it was an isolated incident.  (Which I can guarantee it's not, because it was obvious my coordinator's MO is to present families with that book at that meeting.  The fact that she declined to provide it earlier upon direct request was evidence of that.)

I also told her that my coordinator has never returned a call for anything, and that after no fewer than 4 messages from me and a calling campaign from our therapists on my behalf, she still failed to remove our son's former neurologist from his EI records, and it was my vigilance at the latest meeting that prevented her from sending the records to the wrong doctor yet again.

The boss asked "do you mind if I ask who your coordinator is?" 

I hemmed and hawed and finally, reluctantly, gave up the name of my coordinator to her boss.

And as bad as I thought I'd feel about it... I drove home with a clear conscience.  This bleach blonde bubble headed fake 'n baked fresh out woman holds the futures of countless toddlers in her hands.  If she's going to suck at her job this badly, I guess someone needed to call her out to keep her from continuing to be a huge source of stress to the families she's supposed to be helping.

Maybe it makes me a bitch to have ratted her out, and I might feel a twinge if she loses her job.  But she's supposed to be looking out for the kids, and she's not.  So. Game over.