This morning we had Bryan’s IEP meeting. Individualized Education Plan. This doc is updated annually and helps to keep all of the folks that touch your kids life in the education system on the same page. Also the IEP can serve as your prima facie evidence to prove that your kid deserves something he or she is not getting. But, what cannot be easily seen by the untrained eye is that this document can provide great sorrow or great joy to the parents. Today I am happy to report great joy. Essentially what takes place is all of the school folks get together in one room, the ESE coordinator(exceptional student education), autism coach, teacher(s), OT, Speech, plus parents.The teacher and OT and Speech professionals review the past year’s goals set for your child as well as set new goals or continue goals not mastered within the year. Also there is a narrative portion on academic progress, emotional/social progress and needs for the following year. The narratives can push you over the edge.
In the early days, or as I like to say, “when we were amateurs” there was so much angst at these meetings. First of all, who and what prepares you as a parent for such a meeting? No one, yes, that’s the right answer. So you must educate yourself on your rights, what the school can offer, etc. But, and here is the key, you must know your kid. You really need to know how your child learns, what he or she responds to, what motivates him or stresses him out. Earl and I do talk about this often, but it really is more of a feel than an over intellectualized discussion. In those meetings from a few years ago, I would always cry, not necessarily in the meeting, but a good hard sob in the car afterward. Who wants to hear that your child doesn’t respond to questions, or can’t do simple tasks or is at a grade level so low you can’t process it? But this is a marathon, not a sprint, and just like Bryan, we have gained experience, we have matured, and we have made progress. We see his gains, slow at times, but we are invested in him 1000% and we handle it. The great thing is that his gains are objectively meaningful. He can read faces, he can ask questions, he can speak in full sentences now. He understands more of what is expected of him. As he is on the cusp of middle school it is nice to know that he can make significant emotional strides as well as educational.
When he first started school I was so hung up on whether or not he was in a cluster class, how much time in Gen Ed class, FCATS, etc. Now, we just make sure he is getting what he needs. It doesn’t matter which class he is in, or what other kids are doing, the focus has to be on what will be the best for him. Who ever decided the best way to learn was in a class of 20 with one teacher? Don’t people essentially pay thousands of dollars for private school to get a small group setting, like a cluster? You can easily get caught up in the insanity. We have learned over the years that no one truly knows better than we do, including all of the doctors, experts, etc. Trust the mommy gut (and daddy gut too)!!!