I think we are all conditioned to respond to certain things in certain ways. Such as when I smell the air in mid August and, even though it is still summer here in Ohio, I can smell Fall coming. I am not alone in this as others here say things like ” You can just FEEL fall is coming.”

Or when the calendar gets to October and I feel two automatic feelings,

The first is that it is officially time to but my first bag of Halloween candy and the second is that it is time to look at the IEP ( Individualized Educational Plan) goals and see how they are holding up with what is being worked on in school.

In other words the IEP goals that your child had when the school years may need changed, updated or removed from the IEP. The work they are doing can make some goals obsolete or can make some goals not quite attainable in the current form or some are ones that maybe looked good prior but now others can be put into the IEP instead.

The IEP is a working document which means that it can be changed/adjusted at any point or time. I wish I had known this at the beginning of Elizabeth’s journey in school. I mean I guess I was told that but I think I didn’t want to create an issue by asking for something big or asking for too many changes, so I didn’t.

As time passed and I grew stronger in my ability to advocate for Elizabeth, I learned that asking for time to talk about IEP changes was OK and that if I told the teachers I would be doing it in late fall, they were prepared for the preliminary conversations.

And after all, what we all want for our children is for them to work for and achieve the goals we have set for them.

My daughter Elizabeth, has global dyspraxia and sensory processing disorder (SPD) both disorders affect her days…all day. So each day really is work for her. Her goals that once seemed good may have been too much for her if her anxiety was creating issues or perhaps they were ones she mastered faster than we thought.

Each child has is unique in their needs and they way they work, process and master skills. So it is really important that the goals that guide their education be ones that are as current as possible. And with everything that is going on with the schools this year, the stress or changes can make learning just that much more difficult for our children who already have to work harder than most.

It may take some time to read and reread the IEP and judge how you think things are going for your child but it really is a good time. Because there is still time to work on these new goals before the end of the calendar year before the holidays take hold of the schedules at school.

Just so everyone knows, those conditioned habits do not go away even as Elizabeth is 24 years old. I still just told her that we needed to go to the store and buy some Halloween candy and she and I sat down to talk about what she thinks of her work on her goals so far.

It was like a little IEP meeting, just her and I. I asked her if what we were doing toward her goals seemed like good things or did she want to change anything.

So these habits do stick around.

I wish everyone a peaceful week and please wear a mask and get a vaccine!

Michele Gianetti author of Elizabeth Believes in Herself