Tuesday, October 13, 2015

IEP meetings

Dear Jules,
So I just ran 11 miles with a nasty cold, and I should be proud of myself, right?  My friends have been great and supportive, and so has your Daddy.
Now what if they turned around and said "That's great, but you haven't met your goals yet.  It says in [whatever official document] that you are supposed to, by this point, be running 13 miles.  And in order to get to your ultimate goal, the marathon, you need to run another 15.2?"
That's how I feel about IEP, Individualized Educational Progress, meetings, set to discuss the goals and progress of students with disabilities.  It's like, all year, your therapists and we celebrate your 11-milers (learning new words, learning to jump, initiating play), and then we have these meetings that make me realize that you are still far from whatever goals have been set.
So I like to call them Insidious Ego Pummeling meetings, because I always start out very positive and end up feeling like--I'll say it--a bad mom.  Inevitably, we find out that you're behind on your goals, that you need more "individualized education" (meaning not in a traditional classroom with traditional classmates), and then they come up with a plan.
The latest plan was to send you to a public elementary school to be in what people here call a PIC class, a class for kids with disabilities, and then in the afternoon to the integrated school you've been attending.  This has worked okay except that it's been hard for you to feel included in said integrated school (attending on a half day basis), and it feels like they assume you're getting all the "therapy" you need in the public school.  And the transition between the two has been incredibly difficult for you.

So now we are having yet another IEP meeting, with teachers from both schools, to discuss this transition and just discuss the school situtation in general.  I don't know what will come of it, but I do think it's important or I wouldn't do it (masochism is not my thing, usually).  I wish to God that you had more words and could tell me what you want, how you feel, how things are working for you. In lieu of that, I need to go with my gut...and my gut and my ego are not the same thing.

As parents of kids with special needs, it's easy to let our egos get in the way.  When my friends complain about the Talented and Gifted programs that their kids are in, it's easy to stop listening and think screw you!  That's your biggest problem?  When people commiserate about their kids being sick all the time, I sometimes think umm...see my post about medical issues and Down Syndrome, dumb-ass.  Lazy leukocytes.  I get defensive when people do assume that they understand "what I'm going through," but then I also get defensive when you are not treated like everyone else, when people at these meetings say that you need 720 hours of "specialized education" a week, that you need someone to shadow you throughout the day, that you present "safety concerns."
So maybe my ego needs to be pummeled a bit, because our egos should not be in charge.  What always needs to come first is you, and worrying about being a "bad mom" or finding out that you haven't met your goals or feeling inadequate at an IEP meeting is taking away from really thinking about what you need to have the best education possible...so that you can run your best race.
You in your school uniform--PIC class

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