(Individualized Family Service Plan)
An IFSP is a plan that guides and supports your efforts to boost your child’s development up to age 3. After the age of 3, this turns into an IEP. (More on IEPs later.)
My husband and I met first with our region’s Birth to 3 coordinator. In the very beginning of the meeting, we were to create our “support circle”. This was accomplished by letting our coordinator know who we have that we can talk to or open up to about Augustus. At first, I felt awkward and like our circle would be pretty small; but once we got going, I was able to come up with so many individuals who have helped us in so many ways. I felt so much gratitude after completing that very first task.
We then went over every detail of a day in the life of Augustus to see where and what he would benefit most from occupational and speech therapies. After that, we ranked the things he needs support for most from greatest to least. This list will become the priorities set for his therapies.
Our Birth to 3 coordinator is our advocate and in our corner. We were told we can start or stop anything at any time. We are in control. Our Birth to 3 coordinator will also help us to find other programs and opportunities that may be available to our family and/or Augustus.
We then met with our region’s Birth to 3 program coordinator, a representative for our school district, and the speech therapist that works with our school district. We discussed everything we went over with the coordinator and then the school rep and speech therapist told us their thoughts and we set up a time and place to get therapy started.
For now, we will be traveling to the school for therapy once a week. The speech and occupational therapists will work together for now.
Gus doesn’t have a very long attention span at all, which is something we are working on and have seen improvement in. Therefore, we are meeting just once a week for now and only for half hour periods. He’s a busy dude, a lot goes on in those half hours.
On the IFSP, suggested by the Birth to 3 coordinator, for Dane and I is to have a date night once amonth. We haven’t penciled that in just yet, though.
As I explained in previous posts, we are waiting to be seen for Augustus’ official autism evaluation. This evaluation gives a clearer picture of where Augustus falls on the ASD (autism spectrum disorder) spectrum. This will help us to see what things may work better for him with regard to communication, learning, etc. This evaluation will also give us an “official diagnosis”, which will help with health insurance and support programs available to us.
These evaluations are four hours long and involve a psychiatrist, a speech therapist, an occupational therapist, and a physical therapist. Therefore, they are extremely hard to get scheduled, and it generally takes months (sometimes even a year or more) to be seen.
This evaluation will take place at LifeScape. There is a LifeScape in Rapid City, SD, and Sioux Falls, SD. The Rapid City campus is much closer to us, but if we were to schedule there, we would have been looking at well into 2019 before we could have the evaluation done. Keep in mind, it was June/July 2018 when we were working on getting on the schedule for this evaluation. Sioux Falls was able to get us in late November 2018, so we decided that was the better choice.
The good news is that I received a phone call and was told as long as I got my paperwork sent in within the next few days that Augustus could be seen in mid-October rather than late November. Needless to say, I got my butt in gear and got that paperwork done and sent! These appointments are rarely cancelled and rarely rescheduled as they are so hard to get in the first place. We are one of the lucky few. Woo-hoo!!
Augustus also had to have an official hearing evaluation three weeks minimum before his autism evaluation so they would have time to receive the results and go over them. They do this just to rule out any hearing problems that could be causing or exacerbating any of Augustus’ issues and problems. Thankfully, his primary care physician is amazing and when I called him to let him know we needed to be referred for one he got it done the very next day and had us scheduled for one in Rapid City within the next couple of weeks.
We got his hearing evaluation done, and his hearing is completely fine. I was almost 100% sure this would be the outcome. Once we received the results, I had mixed emotions. The fact that his hearing is completely normal is a good thing, but it also means that all of his listening issues are cognitive. On the flip side, at least there are no hearing problems to add to the things we are already trying to sort out.
I look forward to and dread his autism evaluation. It will be nice to see where he falls on the spectrum, but it will also show me a little bit into what the future might be like for him, and that scares me. I keep in mind that no matter what we find out, nothing changes. He’s still the same Gus I know and love, and literally nothing, to include any diagnosis, will change that.