The other day a friend asked me, “What does ARD stand for?” After just coming out of a 2 hour ARD meeting you think I would know but in fact, I had no idea. And yes, I am the kind of person that goes out into the world without having all the details even when it relates to my own child – researcher I am not. I leave a lot of that to my husband, researcher he is. So after realizing I had no idea what ARD stood for and how ridiculous that was, I did, you guessed it, a little bit of homework and I can now with absolute conviction say that the acronym ARD stands for Admission, Review, and Dismissal.
The ARD meeting is when a group of people comes together to determine whether or not a student is eligible for special education and develop the Individualized Education Program (IEP) for eligible students. The ARD meeting I attended occurred after an evaluation we had for Nash to see what services if any he may need. I hear a lot of people can run into problems during their ARD meeting where their child who has a disability is told they are not eligible for services. This outcome is so disappointing especially in a climate where last year the Director of Special Education in Houston resigned after it was reported that thousands of students with disabilities had been denied services. We know we are very lucky for all the services that have been provided for Nash.
In our case Nash was deemed eligible for services to enter public preschool. Once it was agreed that he was eligible we looked over what his Individualized Education Program (IEP) would look like. I went into this meeting thinking there was no way I was pulling him out of the school he is in, as we love it so much but I actually left the meeting not turning down a place because I was so impressed with the school. The problem was it was 20 minutes South of our house and both kids would get out of school at the same time, it only went up to pre-k and they were not proponents of outdoor time. Nash is currently in an outdoor Reggio inspired school. After watching his brother enter the public education system and all that comes with it I realized that giving Nash the freedom to be outside and learn through play with his peers would be more beneficial to him. Once he gets to Kindergarten outside recess is short and more sitting is required.
They gave me 5 days from the date of the meeting to make a decision about services and ultimately I declined, saying no now doesn’t mean no services ever just not right now and not in a public school setting. I have reservations about how I will prepare him for the reading and writing component of kindergarten but he still has a few years to go before I need to having crushing mum anxiety about it!