Tuesday, August 26, 2014

IEP meeting #FAIL

Today was the sister's IEP meeting. It did not go as expected. I am lucky enough to have polite staff in our schools. They always say hi as they are passing through. If they recognize you, they might ask how your child is doing or give you a small piece of information. I love our waiting area. I also like that if you get there early enough (10-15 minutes), they are nice enough to not leave you sitting there and seat you in the conference room as soon as it is empty, which means you are the first people in there. These are my favorite parts. You can ask questions and get a feel for how things are going for your child with them in an informal setting, before the IEP mood hits the table. It helps me relax with the team as well as sharing final bits of information. I asked Alex's mommy if we could get there early for this exact reason. She was happy to. Thought it would be a great idea. and then we sat in the office until 11:00 on the dot when the principal came to escort us to the room, walking far ahead, not checking to see if we were with him and barely saying a word. We walked into the tiny room to see the entire team (minus the teacher) sitting there all set up, severely professional looking and ready to get down to business. You can guess where it went from there.

I thought I was pretty careful in how I put the list of requests together. I started with the ones that were definitely going to be agreed to and put the big-ticket items at the end. That way, mommy would hear all kinds of yeses and/or alternative ideas before getting into the tense parts. I thought by the end, we could have enough in place that the tense parts wouldn't be as devastating, maybe she could see how it might work and how they are trying to work with her instead of completely ignoring everything she had to say. Maybe she could feel comfortable enough with the team listening to her and acknowledging her concerns to be able to see their points when they did disagree, or maybe by then they would see that she had enough valid concerns to warrant looking into at least one of them. We went out of order. In the end, it was just barely looking almost promising before the shit hit the fan.

There are some things that professionals just can't say to parents. There are trigger words or phrases that will just shut the whole conversation down or turn it into a bar room brawl (this one was more #2). Not everything is a parenting issue. period. Our children are not "normal" or "typical" and we just don't care what a stranger walking into our child's classroom would think any more than we care what they think at Wal-Mart or the pizza place. Not all disabilities are visible. Don't trivialize our children's disabilities to reassure us that they aren't "that bad." We need straight truth. At least acknowledge that our child does have difficulties in certain areas relating to their disabilities (I would like to take a second to thank my Goofy One's area coordinator for stopping the conversation just to reassure us that just because people were saying he's doing better in certain areas, it doesn't mean that he's not still struggling. Thank you.) and compare their progress to their own. I don't care what a typically developing kid in your class is doing. Would you compare your typically developing student to a delayed student in your class while talking to their parent? "My autistic kid screams just like James. We don't think a thing of it. The kids are used to it." Would you tell the parent of a typically developing student that when he is seated in a class of special needs children that a stranger walking into the class wouldn't be able to tell which one is typical? Why would you think it's ok to say it to us? My kid is not broken, I couldn't give a shit less if he can pass for normal.

#Perfect. Both of them.
Parents, for the love of Pete, don't piss off the whole team. You need at least one friend. You need to be informed. Know your child. Know their disability. Know your concerns. Know your rights. Know your options. If you don't know, find out. Ask questions. If you don't trust the team to tell you, ask someone else. You can check with Wrightslaw MPACT, The Regional Center, Touchpoint, Missouri's DESE, The SSD... they ALL have great information. If you're not in Missouri, I'm sure your state has similar sites and programs. You have to know what you are asking for and how to get it before you even walk into that room, that involves being in control of your emotions, even when you disagree. Read Wrightslaw: from emotions to advocacy.

So, that meeting didn't go well. The sister is no longer enrolled in school. We'll do what we can do and try again next year.

1 comment:

  1. Hey! For a minute there I thought you were reporting on one of MY kids' IEP meetings. UGH. Are you tired of me posting these links yet? 'Cause you and I have a lot in common and blog about the same things!! http://quirks-and-chaos.blogspot.com/2014/08/an-iep-tutorial-13-tips.html