Sunday, November 9, 2008

What a Good IEP Meeting Looks Like

I have a new oxymoron for you: Good IEP meeting.

Wow. At least it was for me this time. In the past Nick’s meetings were always more … condescending, in a way. Meaning that the teachers and specialists just didn’t see what I/we had seen in Nick, and if they didn’t see it, then they didn’t believe it. So, it would always be so damn frustrating and I would always leave a meeting with fear and angst. Nick is not as disabled as you might think due to his debilitating shyness, but unless school had seen what we had seen and knew of our son, then they wouldn’t offer him more opportunities at school, both socially and academically.

At last years’ IEP meeting I actually brought in my laptop and showed them a video that I had taped of Nick talking to me about various things during different times while he was home. They were blown away. They just didn’t see him open up, speak and ask questions at school; so, why would they believe me that he does it at home? Right?

You know what they always say: a teacher (school) will never believe a parent and, therefore, not listen. I think that our neurologist (at the time) even admitted that fact.

Sure, all parent toot their kids’ horn more than they should, but I’m not the one suffering from denial about my kids; but I am suffering from an acute opposition to ignorance, complacency and labeling.

This year’s IEP meeting introduced a bountiful of good ideas and opened up more choices and opportunities for him. Not only because he has met all of his goals, but, also because they are finally seeing what I see at home, although on a much smaller scale, but they finally know that he is capable of more.

So push, push, push for more and let this boy start to shine …

I pushed for even more typical peer interaction, a buddy group with his typical peers in speech therapy. Check!
Pushed for a stronger movement in his academics—and we will work with him at home, too. Check!
A push to introduce him to more information, studies and learning styles so that we can learn what he likes/dislikes, etc. Check!

On occasion the members of this roundtable were all talking at once because there was so much more excitement and enthusiasm in the air, the air of humility and some good old-fashioned thinking outside the box for the hopes of one boy.

Now this is why a teacher becomes a teacher? No? I mean I’ve heard the tale before: The myth of a teacher sparked by ambition and believing in the dreams and hopes of their students and to help them become all that they can be; no matter the extra work or sacrifice the teacher must bear. I finally saw it for myself and, frankly, I wasn’t sure it actually existed. The rebel, the history maker, the crusader; is this not the embodiment of a good teacher?

I am also learning that there are great opportunities for him in high school next year. Even though he has to stay in a specialized special needs program because he’s not academically level with his typical peer group, he can move out and mainstream where we see fit … and since there are a lot more programs offered in our high school …

But I will still need to continue to push and advocate for him the whole way through; but then, that’s not my problem now is it?

I feel like Obama right now: I’m running on hope and YES WE CAN!!

Special Note: the preceding positive feelings are subject to change--next year.
But the hope and advocacy never will.


Christina Shaver said...

Yay you! And go Nick! What wonderful news.

Tanya @ Teenautism said...

That's so great! You're right - it's an oxymoron, but it does happen occasionally. I'm also hopeful for high school next year. There are more options available, so we should be able to figure out a good fit.