A word on IEPs

September 9, 2008 at 5:50 am 7 comments

     It is that dastardly time of year that so many of us dread. No, not Halloween, but IEP time. The “Individualized Education Plan,” code for “special education action plan,” is enough to bring trembling to any parent’s steady hands. It has all kinds of categories, goals, percentages, test scores, etc. It’s a picture on paper of what your child supposedly is. And people spend hours and hours writing them. I know our special education teacher did; she is enthusiastic and capable, and really wants to do a good job. I love that about her.

     But it’s not important. It doesn’t matter what is written in the IEP. Well, it does when there is a problem. When something is not happening, you need to have the IEP so you can say, “Look, here is what’s supposed to be happening and it is NOT.” It is important when you find yourself in a disaster situation with a school that does not get or does not know how to deal with your child. But even then I do not find an IEP all that helpful. We have been in that disaster situation (I keep calling it the “Great Montessori Experiment,” although “great” means “NOT great, but really, really terrible”), and the IEP did nothing for us. It does not matter what is written in that document if the people on the team are not capable of carrying out those goals. Ultimately we questioned if, IEP or no IEP, we really wanted those people being responsible for our child. The answer was no, which is how we ended up here, at our new school home.

     So here we are, in our second year in this new school, and we had our yearly IEP meeting this morning. A group of people, including the principal, sitting around talking about C for an hour. It is a great thing, really; ideas flying around, suggestions made, handwriting studied. And somehow, I walked out of there and found myself the newest Cub Scout Den Leader, but I’m still not sure exactly how that happened. These are highly skilled people.

     What I have found, over the years, is that it is about the people around the table, not the document on the table. It is about a group of people who are not only excited about my child, but take ownership of what he does in school. It is about caring how he does, wanting to do right by him, and cutting or adding services based on what he needs, not on what the budget needs. Perhaps I am seeing things through rose-colored glasses, but I always walk into the room at this new school feeling like these people are on C’s side. Not my side, not their side, but C’s side. And that’s where we all should be.

Entry filed under: autism. Tags: , , , , , , , .

Thoughts on Uncle T & Aunt J leaving… Days bygone

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jesch  |  September 9, 2008 at 6:50 am

    love that school.
    um, cub scout den leader?!

    I know…I’m nuts. I didn’t even see it coming, it was so skillfully done! LOL! I’ll fill ya’ in on the phone.

  • 2. looksgoodinpolkadots  |  September 9, 2008 at 10:44 am

    We have a similar meeting for teengirl coming up… Our program is different as she is schooling at home.

    I’m so glad to hear the meeting was positive… I’m a bit apprehensive!!!

    Oh, I don’t think I updated you on the evals with little critter. She scored low in social & interpersonal skills and goes back fir a full ecal in a couple weeks.

    Good luck with your meeting for teen girl, and let me know what happens with little critter! If nothing else, you’ll have a good baseline eval for her and know what to do next, if anything.

  • 3. mama mara  |  September 9, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    I didn’t realize the truth of this until earlier this year, when a friend asked me to accompany her to her daughter’s IEP for support and “expertise” (having done some 15 IEPs over the last 10 years).

    Her team was horrible. Very negative about the daughter, inflexible about trying new approaches, clearly untrained in how to make autism-friendly modifications and accommodations.

    Since then, I always gush with gratitude at my sons’ IEPs and bring snacks to every meeting to let them know how much I appreciate their passion and effort.

    Oooh, snacks. That’s a great idea! I wish I had done donuts or something…next time, I guess! I too, was very innocent about IEPs, thinking they were always lovely and pleasant, until they weren’t. I never thought we’d be in that boat, but there we were. So it makes it doubly nice to be at a different place with a different attitude.

  • 4. robinaltman  |  September 9, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    I’m really glad the IEP meeting was a positive experience. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anything like that around here. Are you sure you didn’t fall asleep and just dream a positive IEP? Do you have any physical evidence that you were actually there? Hmmm?

    I’m pretty sure in my dream I wouldn’t have made myself the Cub Scout leader, so I’m pretty sure it happened. 😉

  • 5. embracingspirit  |  September 9, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    uhhhh the IEP… I hear ya, they are grueling. I am glad it was positive. Ours is coming next month and we will be looking at preparations for high school—gosh it goes fast!

    EEEK! High school! Not ready, not ready, not ready!!!!

  • 6. hopeauthority  |  September 9, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    You are so right about the people around the table making all the difference. We’ve been lucky (so far) with our CSE meetings and have always felt that the team was on our son’s side. He has even gotten more services than we expected on some occasions.

    That said, I will add that bringing snacks to the meeting probably helps–as I always have done that and it goes over well.

    Also, consider becoming a parent member for the school district. That’s the parent who volunteers to sit in on other kids’ IEP meetings during the year. Politics being what they are, these administrators get to know you better and, whether it’s subconscious or not, they come through for you when it’s your kid’s meeting.

    Wow – that’s interesting. We aren’t allowed to do that here, and I’ve never heard of that! I am on a special needs parent group that offers to sit with parents in the IEP meetings, but only if the parent asks one of us specifically. We can’t just go, and the school can’t invite us. Too many HIPPA laws. But I do volunteer a lot and am around the school frequently, so everyone knows me. Of course, their knowing me has more to do with their knowing and loving C than anything else! But I am definitely of the kill them with kindness ilk – yet I’m glad to be in a place that makes that a no-brainer because the teachers/staff are so nice themselves.

    But I’m DEFINITELY bringing snacks the next time!

  • 7. Dizzy « What We Need  |  June 16, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    […] was the beginning of the end of “The Terrible Montessori Experiment,” (see here and here) which came to its final, and extremely painful, end a scant few months […]


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