Archives for the month of: March, 2017

In all the stores I go to, I see bunnies, chickens and lots of pastel pink, green and blue, in other words, it is Easter time.  In the traditional calendar that we all follow, Easter comes in Springtime.

There is also something that traditionally comes in the Spring…and unlike Easter, a select few know what I am talking about…and it is IEP season.

The time of the year that those who have special needs children know as a pretty stressful time of year.

IEPs or Individualized Education Plans are part of the world for many of our children.  

They are plans that speak for our child.

They tell the world what special needs our children have.

They contain the education goals that the school is working on with our child.

They contain the goals that speech and OT are working on with our child.

They contain the plans for our child’s future.

They are also the reason for much tension, disagreement and deliberations.

They are one of the causes that can make us feel it is us versus the schools.

I am looking an IEP meeting in the face for this Friday…and even after having them for some 14 odd years, I too, have so many feelings as I enter into the meeting.

So I thought I would share the things I do and think about that help me face the meeting and do the best for Elizabeth.

1. REMEMBER WHO IT IS REALLY ABOUT

Sometimes personalities come into play.  Sometimes attitudes are quite strong.  So it is very important to  remember why you are there.  To remember that it is about what is best for your child at this time.  I use to tell myself, I am speaking for Elizabeth, because she cannot.  I now, tell myself that it does not matter what others think of my feelings about Elizabeth.  It matters that we believe in her.  

What matters is that what goes down on that paper reflects who your child is right now and that the goals reflect what they need right now.

You know you would move the world for your child, so remember that no matter what you encounter, it is all for your special child.

2. LOOK AT CURRENT IEP BEFORE YOU GO

Even though you may have worked so hard on your current IEP, there are many details in the IEP that you might want to reread.  

It helps to be proficient with the current one, so that when new goals are proposed and new ideas are shared, you can judge if they are too similar to the current ones or if they show positive growth.

Also by knowing the current IEP, you can discuss ideas and thoughts better.

3. BRING THE RIGHT ITEMS

Speaking of the current IEP, bring it with you as a reference as well as paper and something to right with.  I know it sounds like common knowledge, but I know I actually thought they would provide these things during our first IEP. They did not.

So in addition to the above, bring support.  Be it your spouse or significant other, friend, or even an advocate.  Just, in my opinion, do not go alone.  IEP meetings can be more intimidating than you think.  Sometimes this is because of the fact that so many people are telling you so many things and sometimes it is because those very people may have strong personalities.  Whatever the reason, having someone there who is there for you is so important.  

4.  YOU DO NOT HAVE TO SIGN IMMEDIATELY

Of course, a signature is what is important when it comes to finalizing the IEP.  But in my opinion, I don’t want to sign it until I have a chance to read it again at home.  Maybe share it with our private therapists and tutors and get their take on it.  

If you take away the pressure of having to sign it, you can get through the meeting in a bit more of a relaxed state of mind.

5. IT IS NOT EASY TO HEAR ALL THEY SAY

It is never, repeat never easy to hear the words of the educators and therapists as they describe your child and their deficits as they compare to typical developing peers. No it is not, but something I offer here is ….before you go in.  Take a moment to think of a recent success for your child.  Maybe they spoke a new word or sentence.  Maybe they tried a new skill or mastered a new task.  Whatever it is…take a mental picture of it and think back to where you started.  And see the gains that your child has made.  Know that you are making a difference in your child’s life.  So hold onto these accomplishments as you enter.  It will strengthen you.

I am going to do all the above…I promise you. I will be thinking about how great Elizabeth is doing volunteering at the preschool.  The child who was afraid of it all is having a ball with 16 three and four year olds!  Yep, I will hold onto that as I enter the meeting.

I wish you a peaceful week and for those who are entering their own IEP meetings know I am sending you good thoughts.

Michele

 

 

We’re happy to introduce a new gust blogger to the Special Needs Essentials community,  Jenn from Positive Parenting Specialized. We are glad to have her unique perspective on our blog!

Hi there, I’m Jenn, a single mom to a seventeen year old with Global Depression, a fifteen year old with Asperger’s Syndrome (and a hand full of co-morbid diagnosis), a 10 year old with autism, Type 1 Diabetes, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and a 7 year old fireball with Disruptive Behavior Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder, Learning Challenges, and Anxiety Disorder. I am in my forties and have started blogging to try to support the kids and myself. I love being a work from home mom, praying often that it stays this way.

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Life with four children who all have unique challenges might be surprising. Maybe some of these points are “No Brainers.” See for yourself!

 

Here are Five Things You Might Not Know about Having Multiple Children with Special Needs:

1. We have fun!

Jumping on the trampoline, having pillow fights, going sledding, playing in the

now, etc. All these activities have brought us tons of enjoyment. So when I say I have multiple kids with special needs, please don’t think of us crying in a corner (although, that has happened). I love my kids. I try to support them, cheering them on at every corner.

Other activities that I love to watch the kids do is play in their body socks. They often pack237 one body sock full of pillows, then all three younger children pile in together. Inevitably, one of them gets upset. It is so fun, while it lasts.

Another fun go to activity we do, is we take a “Sensory Tunnel,” and pull the kids around on a hard surface while they lay on it. They love this! I love hearing the squeals of delight.

2. Diets Can Be Hard

I am a short order cook at every single meal! Even with pizza nights, there just can’t be one pizza. Nooooooo. One kid can’t stand too much spaghetti sauce (it makes him dry heave), another kid can’t have gluten, etc. So, I always end up making a few dishes, much to our Behavior Consultant’s Chagrin.

The adage, the child will eat when they are hungry does not match with autism. At some point my kids have gotten down to just GoGurts as a diet. So, if I find foods they will tolerate, I am happy to have them eat. Sure, life might be more complicated, but I sleep better knowing they are getting more nutrition than GoGurts provide.

3. The Kids Feed Off of Each Other.

This is both bad and good. The bad is that when one melts down or is in a funk, they all tend to go down that path (like babies in the newborn nursery atthe hospital, when one cries, they all cry).

The good side is that when one needs help, they all tend to try to problem solve. Sometimes, the problem solving makes no sense or is completely out of our means, but they try. So I say this to convey, “Kids with special needs do have empathy. It just might look different than what we envision.”

My kids feed into each other, however, they do not copy each other. I wish they did. Then, they might be more compliant. They feed off of each other’s moods, but not their actions.

4. They All Are Different

Three of my kids have been on the Autism Spectrum. Even though they have shared a diagnosis, they couldn’t be more different. My fifteen year old is very rule bound (thank God for him!).However, my younger two can be defiant, liking to color outside of the lines, if you know what I mean. One loves to be naked. All three are frustrated very easily. None of them developed according to the normal milestones.

Even though all three have been on the Autism Spectrum and communicating is difficult, you couldn’t believe how diversely they grate each other’s nerves. They know how to push each other’s buttons.

This is part of a vast puzzle: their repetitive behaviors irritate each other. One paces, another can’t stand it and keeps ordering them to sit down. Another makes constant strange noises, the others beg him to stop. And yet the third, will constantly snap, butt bounce, and body rock. The others will beg me to make it stop.

This sounds like it would be oh so funny, but I assure it is NOT. Be in my house for more than an hour, I bet you would want out quickly, especially right around bed time. Riding in our van can be quite the arduous journey.

5. I Love My Kids Always and Forever No Matter What.

Just like typical kids, I am proud of my Fantastic Four. I know there is nothing they can’t do. It is just inspiring them to do their best, pulling out their unique gifts and talents. The talents come to the surface eventually. It takes a great deal of time. We celebrate everything, especially progress, no matter how small or how long it takes to happen.

I feel special needs kids aren’t THAT different from typical ones. They all love to play, love to have fun. For special needs kids, being able to have fun may be more difficult.

But regardless of any circumstance, I am proud to be their mom no matter what. In the moment, as I am smacked by one of them, I may not feel that way. None the less, in my heart of hearts, I am forever theirs, and they are forever mine.

I am always proud of every step forward and we manage through the steps back. All in all, we are family. We stick together, helping each other through it all.
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