Friday, April 5, 2013

Alex's IEP Meeting

I must say that this was the best IEP meeting I have ever participated in, with participated being the key word. Every single person on the Team, with the exception of the ABA consultant and Musical Therapist (because I don't have their e-mail addresses to harass them), worked with me to make sure we were on the same page. They went above and beyond to include me and to do everything they could do to make it easier for me to be an active part of the Team.

The Teacher

A few days before the IEP meeting, Alex's teacher e-mailed me to personally invite me to a parent/teacher conference the night before the IEP meeting. Now, we've been talking about the IEP meeting for months because one of us is a neurotic control freak who has to know everything about every single thing way before it happens so plans can be made. with plans for those plans and lists of plans, and lists of those lists etc. because she turns into a psychotic harpy and flies off the handle, flipping the f*ck out over the unexpected. Not naming names but if you've followed my blog for any length of time... you know.

So, parent/teacher conference. Some interesting things came up at this conference such as Daddy's sudden desire to take his son out of my house on a regular basis... which is totally going to happen when he pries the kid out of my cold, dead hands and is an entirely separate blog post... and that Alex's behaviors seem to be following a pattern. The beginning of the year, the boy is something else but by the time he comes back from Christmas break he calms down quite a bit. Even his biting has decreased. Yes, BITING! My boy bites!? Since when!? Who is he biting!? I demand evidence! Show me proof! By "biting", could you mean "kissing"? Because kissing is fairly new and open mouthed. She says it could be "kissing" because he's "biting" the people he really likes. Such as his two aides. *name* and *name*. who are not in any way New Aide. Remember the one from the beginning of the year? The one I lost my mind about because the summer school aide was supposed to be the whole year aide and I didn't find out he wasn't until I met the New Aide at Open House? Yeah, she's not there anymore. The teacher can't believe no one told me and she is so sorry that I had to find out this way. But... I still want to know who in the hell he's kissing! WTF's up with that!? I have to beg and plead and pin his ass down to get mine!

But as much as it annoys me that no one told me she wasn't there anymore, I'm actually ok with it because the teacher is there. Alex knows the teacher, the teacher knows Alex. Alex seems to like the teacher, the teacher likes Alex. That's all I really need is one person there who knows him and he is comfortable with. Someone I can be comfortable sending my son to spend the day with. The teacher is really pretty amazing which makes me feel bad for the hell I put her through this year. Not that I don't have a right to worry. or that I shouldn't feel the need to vet the people who spend time with my most precious treasure. but I could have been a little nicer about it. Maybe next time. (doubtful, but almost possible) This meeting, the ability to sit for a few minutes and just talk, put a lot of my fears and worries to rest. This meeting, sitting and chatting with no pressure to do anything else or to be anywhere else, finally made me completely comfortable that Alex is in competent and caring hands.

The Social Worker

Through the support group at school, I met a woman, Alex's social worker. With meeting her there and feeling comfortable in a confidential environment, I opened up about my worries and my ADHD as related to the meeting. I told them about it being hard for me to keep up, understanding what is said, missing chunks of the discussion, and not remembering afterward what is said. Here in an anonymous blog, it's easy to talk about my issues and the trouble it causes in my ability to function as any normal adult should but in real life, it's embarrassing. I feel like I am lacking and that I fail my kids when they need me most. At *cough* years old, I should be able to follow a conversation, I should be able to answer questions without zigzagging from A-10 and back again, I shouldn't have to rely on lists, charts, and written words just to understand what is going on. Instead, I'm the one who's more like, "um....what? what do you mean? can you repeat that? wait. what did I miss? Uh, what were we talking about? I didn't hear what you just said." Yeah, that's not stuff I advertise in real life because weakness is usually exploited or at the least looked down on.

But she did. She met with the team and told them about my trouble. She worked with me to find out what I want, she worked with them to make a plan to help me. I read. a lot. because I can understand and remember what I read in a way that I can't remember what was said 5 minutes ago. I can remember a blog post I read several months ago and when you have a question that the blog post or article answers, I can tell you exactly where to find it- that is one of the reasons I'm good at what I do. The social worker and the teacher know I'm a blogger and I relate to the written word so they came up with the idea to project the IEP onto the white board so that I could read along as we talked.

The social worker went to the meeting with me, she made sure I knew I had someone on my side. She made sure I kept up, that I understood, that everything was explained, and that we were all on the same page. She made sure I had support, that I wasn't alone, and most important, she made sure that Alex had an adequate advocate. I am more thankful for that than I can even express.

The Perfect Meeting

At 10am March 29th, I walked with the Assistant Principal down the front hall to the IEP room. It's the same room we have our support group meetings in so it's comfortable, familiar. I go to take my seat as far from everyone and as hidden as possible... and am redirected to the other side where we can all see the white board. I'm looking at the seat right in the center of the other side of the table, surrounded by team mates and I am filled with dread. My mind flashes to the woman in support group who is frequently glancing at my hands, distracted by the fiddling, to Goofy's teacher demonstrating for my husband exactly how she knew I was a nervous wreck at our first meeting and his embarrassed downcast look in response, the psychologist's office when I was too upset and focused on explaining to him exactly why he was wrong to pay attention to what my hands were doing and my husband's teasing afterward... but there's nothing I can do about it. I take my seat between the counselor and the assistant principal.

We do introductions and start going line by line reading the IEP projected on the wall. The assistant principal wants to know what my concerns are. my concerns? ...blank. They're looking to me for an answer and... "Um..." I DON'T KNOW! I focused on strengths! I made a list! (...and then gave it to the teacher last night so the social worker would have a copy.) what were my concerns? I know I had to have some. What were they? Shit. I should have kept a copy of that list. concerns. concerns. think, woman! concerns. GOALS! Concerns are goals! I made a list. what was on the list? 5 things. 6? 5. picture bold type... oh, God, woman! Just think! "Transitions. Self Care. Bilateral Skills. Staff Change." How many's that? what were my ideas!? "...I don't know. I gave the list to the teacher last night." They stopped the meeting right there and went to get the list. Thank God. That was dumb. I should have known better than to leave my only copy.

Once we had the list, the meeting went smoothly. Every single thing on my list was included in the IEP in one place or another in combination with their own things. We went person by person, line by line, goal by goal. They did not move on until we had discussed every question, every concern, every idea. We weighed my points vs their points and came to an agreement on every letter of the document. The IEP meeting ended up taking 2 hours but since I could read along and they made sure we stayed on topic as much as possible, I know everything that happened. I know what is in his IEP and why. I am confident that this IEP is perfectly tailored to Alex. I did miss a few chunks but it only amounted to a few sentences and for a 2 hour meeting, that is amazing.

Leaving this meeting, and even a week later after getting my copy of the IEP and reading through it on my own, I am certain that this the perfect IEP, that this is the school for Alex, these are the people I want working with him. This may or may not be the year that everything just clicks for him but I know this school will be the difference. This school will be exactly what he needs to finally just ... get it. I just know that this is the team that will help him get to the moment where everything falls right into place for him. They will help him be everything he wants to be, no matter what that is.


  1. Awesome!! I am also an "super planner". It drives my family crazy but it is really the only way to make sure everything gets done. James's IEP is next week and, like you, I am ready. I have already sent my thoughts and goals to the team and I am ready! I hope! PEACE