PLOF: Present Levels of Functioning.

Another acronym. IEP day. IEP: Individualized Education Plan. Basically, a legal document that ensures your child to a FAPE in the LRE (Free and Appropriate Education in the Least Restrictive Environment). All apart of IDEA- or the Individuals with Education Act. It’s attended by the SLP (speech-language pathologist) the teachers, the principal, the LEA (Local Education Agency, or person from the district) the OT (Occupational Therapist), the PT (Physical therapist, if you have one) as well as the school counselor and…have I lost you?

The hardest part of all of it. Of all the rangling for services, the fighting over needs, the stress of just sitting through yet another meeting, is the PLOF.

Basically, they sit you down and tell you everything your child sucks at. It’s a reality check of the worst kind. They don’t mean to be hurtful, they are, in fact, speaking with the data they have compiled. It’s all too truthful.Too dry. There’s something about having it in hard copy. Something about everyone nodding in agreement when they say my son can’t do x, y and z. 

They go over the PLOF in every area. I nod my head as they tell me about math, executive functioning, writing, reading, etc.

I sit and try not to flinch as they tell me that Casey is in the bottom on 1% on comprehension. It hurts, almost a physical pain. My soul feels like it’s being scraped from the inside. Basically, he speaks great. He says LOTS of things. His understanding of what is said? Minimal. Nothing is surprising, though, given his diagnosis.

We spent hours talking about everything that his autism takes from him. There was no mention of what it gives.

I guess that’s what bothers me. The PLOF Autism Reality Check (ARC? Damn. That one’s been taken). I spend my days working to see Casey as CASEY.  It took me YEARS, and it’s new really, to see his autism as a part of who he is, both bad and GOOD, both taking and giving. It’s taken me all of this time to appreciate the beauties of autism.

I hate being sent back to where I was even six months ago. I’ve worked hard to understand and appreciate the beauty of my son- diagnoses included. Yet, I left that meeting deflated. Sad.

His autism GIVES. It gives as much as it takes.

I go now to write the real present levels of functioning for my autistic son. Stay tuned. 

21 thoughts on “PLOF.

  1. Yeah. Our kids can do lots of stuff, some of which we even appreciate. The meetings (clinics, they call them round here) are full of goals unmet, milestones unreached, skills unlearned. I don't want to deprive my son of the services he needs, but I don't want to think of him as a big bundle of cant's. I want to help him get wherever he ends up wanting to go, but I hate that I have to be reminded just how far that looks with every damned clinic. I try not to let it all get to me. I feel for ya. I have no answers. But I know what you mean.

  2. I'm going to get on my soapbox for a moment if that's okay. If we didn't have our deficit model of educating our kids, we would be looking at their strengths and building on them. It would be so much better for parents, teachers and students if we take kids for where they are and build on those skills. Instead, we look at where we think they are supposed to be and say what they can't do, and then figure out how to mitigate the difference. It's frustrating as a parent, because we see where are kids are in the moment and we celebrate every first word spoken and every first word read and every chapter book completed when they happen in their own time. And those reports can deflate our pride in those milestones. If you let them. *off soapbox*What I love about you Lexi is that you are one incredible mama with a heart of gold. You get your kids and make sure everyone else around them gets them too. The good, the bad and the beautiful.

  3. Yes! In Kentucky, we are now trying to write PLOPs in a positive way! While the data is the same, a statistic that says what a child CAN do at 40% accuracy is much nicer than what they CAN'T do 60% of the time.

  4. I know exactly how you feel. It sucks so bad to hear your child being analyzed in light of what she can't do. It is the worst part of the IEP process, and I just want to shake the whole team and beg them to see my daughter's pros, too. I can't wait to read your follow up.

  5. See, and I'm not even sure that's really necessary. It's good to know present levels because we need to deal in reality. It just sucks to have to face that reality. They said amazing things about him, too. They love him. How could you not?

  6. Thanks Alysia (I hate that it doesn't tag you when I type your name…)I wish we could dive in as deep into what makes Casey tick. What would HELP him meet his goals. Play on his strengths. Play on his love of memorization, etc. They're getting there. I think.

  7. This is what makes IEP time so exhausting and a bit depressing. I go in thinking about how much progress he is making and then get told all his issues and what goals they have for the coming year. The goals make me hopeful though and seeing the goals he finished from the las meeting helps keep me from freaking out.

  8. IEP day sucks. We just went through it, and I hate hate it. Grab a pint of ice cream and cry if you want to follow my method 🙂 Actually, I bawled at our first IEP and the school counselor called me to make sure I was ok after. It sucked and was embarrassing.

  9. I agree I want to know exactly where my son is at, even when it hurts, especially when it hurts. No sugar coating it would make that better. I will still go home and cry because in the day to day I forget the big picture, I have to, to stay sane, but I need to be aware that the big picture is still out there and that's what we're striving for.

  10. I'm glad to read this, because I really thought I was the only one who hated it and got depressed! In our last IEP I must of had a terrible look on my face because they kept asking me if I was okay. I just told them I didn't understand, I really felt like we were making leaps and bound of progress and looking at his scores we barely moved an inch. It's the worst feeling. Sometimes reality sucks!

  11. PLOF can be a kick in the gut. I got my kick when my son was four and I read his evals. One said he was functioning at a 1.8 year old level. Ouch…. I have never had a therapist come to and IEP meeting. They have usually called in or sent in their progress notes. I hope things are different in this new school. I can relate to the feelings you have. We celebrate the milestones and then at the IEP meeting we learn that they are not that big of a deal because our kids should be doing that and then some. Double ouch.

  12. IEP's are hard, no matter how you slice it. The hardest part for me is you wind up talking about all the negative when you know there is a metric ton of goodness sitting outside that room. Never lose sight of that goodness, Lexi, never lose sight.

  13. Something to keep in mind, they are measuring the comprehension of a child with atypical language processing via typical language processing mediums.

  14. Sorry, I didn't mean to send it, and I can't comment on your blog from work (crazy firewalls?) so a day later… so basically, they aren't just measuring comprehension, but his language processing, which is a confound. So take it with a grain of salt, you know?

  15. As a preschool special education teacher and a parent of a child with special needs I completely understand! Thanks so much for sharing. I do try to write the goals for my students on a positive note. I always include things the child can do but I am sure there still is some of the negative. This has encouraged me to focus MORE on what they can do! Thanks!

    1. I should have added that even with my background in special education, often cry after the IEP meeting. It is stressful. My son 14 yo, has emotional behavioral issues (he is very defiant and confrontational, does not understand/follow social norms) depression, ADHD, border line on the spectrum but not enough to ‘qualify’ for the school, but luckily he is smart he passes all the standardized testing with no accommodations. As long as he is medicated he does well with testing but his grades are mostly D’s and F’s because he is not ‘responsible enough’ to turn in assignments, even with a binder and folders for every class. He gets 0’s on most assignments but 100 on most tests, often getting the highest score for the entire grade level. At almost every meeting they point out that he is the ‘smelly kid’ (but he is getting better, he just does not want to wear deodorant or brush his teeth, ewww I know) and that he had almost NO friends. It is hard to take!
      Because of this I do all I can to be positive in the meetings. But I still have had meetings when the parents cry in the meeting (I have special ed preschoolers so they are often finding out ‘what is different’ about their child) and or times when I worry they cry on the way home. I have tried to do my best to call the day after to tell them thanks for coming and ask if they have any more questions etc and MOST important to tell them I enjoy having their child in my class and share with them something specific positive about their child.

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