Ahh, the flowers are blooming.

The grass is turning green.  ( if you live in a Southern climate, I am a bit jealous of  you!)

All of this signals the signs of Spring.

And for those who have a child with special needs, Spring signals the arrival of IEP (Individualized Education Program)  time.

I have been through this process so many times, but I will not lie here, I still find myself having a myriad of feelings knowing that we will be having that meeting.

I just wanted to offer out some thoughts that help me as I face this rite of Spring.

1. SEE THE GOOD THINGS

By this I mean, truly list the good things you have seen your child do or say this year.  For us, we would look at all the language Elizabeth was using, or if she could complete a new skill.

Just listing these things helps so much when you are made to hear all the things that they cannot do or need help doing as compared to typical peers.

I think for me, thinking of these good things helps me know that we ARE succeeding.

2. GET THE IEP AHEAD OF TIME

I can remember during my first or second IEP meeting, I was handed the IEP right before we began the meeting.  Not such a good thing.

I have learned to request the IEP a few weeks ahead of the meeting time, so that I can read it, send it to our private therapists and tutors and get their input.

I then write down their thoughts in color coded ink, so I know who said what.

I think this helps bring everyone’s opinions and thoughts on the same page….no pun intended.

Sometimes, this request is not welcomed but it really is important to keep everyone informed.

3. SIGN ONLY WHEN READY

I know this is advice that has been stated before, but it is worth stating again.

If you are not comfortable with the information given on the IEP or at the meeting, please know you do not need to sign it at the time.

I know that, for me, I usually want to read the final copy prior to signing because usually I have added some requests that I want to make sure appear on the final IEP.

Remember anything you ask for and is agreed upon, should be in writing on the IEP.

4. BRING SUPPORT TO IEP MEETINGS

Going to IEP meetings alone, is, in my opinion, not a great thing to do.

It helps to have someone there to support you and your child, and to listen for and with you.

I say it like that because there are times that even if you are hearing the teacher/therapist you are not really able to listen and process what is being said.  So having another set of ears is so helpful.

4. FEEL IT ALL AND TALK

For me, when I leave the meetings I can tell myself that I am okay.  I can tell myself that I am not sad or upset.

And then I am.

And I have learned that allowing yourself to feel all that you feel is so much healthier than pretending you are fine or denying that you have these feelings.

The talking part comes in after the feeling part.  At least for me.  So talk and talk with your significant other or trusted friend.  Just getting it out helps.

5. GIVE YOURSELF A PAT ON THE BACK! 

And finally, know that all the therapies, work, time, love and support that you and your family do really do make a difference in your child’s life.

My meeting is scheduled for May 29th.

I will be following my own advice and I wish everyone good luck and strength.

I hope everyone has a peaceful week.

Michele Gianetti

author of “I Believe In You: A Mother and Daughter’s Special Journey” and “Emily’s Sister”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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