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

So the other day this week I had to work with a program to save some articles I had written. It was one where you can save them and then others can share your folder and edit them etc.

Now I KNOW how to do this as I had done it many time before.

But that was just it.

BEFORE!

So even though I KNEW how to do it, I had to ask my 15 year old son, Michael the steps to doing it again.

And as I suffered through the requisite comments about how cute it is that I am trying something new and how proud he is that I am not afraid to use the internet, he went over it all.

So after the teasing was done, Michael helped me learn the steps and I did it a couple of times while he stayed there just to be sure that I processed the steps to do it as well as making sure that the notes I took on how to do it worked. And yes, I got teased for writing it down as well.

This got me thinking about our special needs kids and their skills. I know that we have a list of things we are always working on with Elizabeth, either they are skills she knows or skills we are growing. But the list is always there.

When Elizabeth was young and REALLY struggling with her disorders and even attempting any skill, I know I wanted her to learn something and move to the next things because the list was so long. I also know that that thinking was both good and bad. Good because it gave us push to keep going and bad because the skills aren’t simply mastered for her, like a check list. They need attentions often to be current skills, we are never really done with them.

Kind of like me and my story above, the skills they have for anything, in my opinion, can grow rusty and even if they KNOW it, the rust kicked off of the skill for them to be successful again.

In other words, they need to go over the skill, practice it again and become fluid in it again.

I have noticed this for pretty much all things with Elizabeth in her life. Her dyspraxia and SPD ( Sensory Processing Disorder) have made learning new skills such hard work and have given her a great deal of anxiety in learning them and using the skills. She has been typing a lot, as that is, if we all remember, one of her self made goals but where does that leave her cursive signature and printing? Well?, not in a pretty place that much I will tell you.

So I chose to see these rusty skills as ones that need attention and rehearsal, ones that need to stay on the list of things to work on. And the big take away for me and hopefully for you, is that…

Really, it is okay.

It is okay to have to rehearse reading again or writing again or how to wipe the floor or, or , or.

Because the skills are there, learned but a bit tucked away and rusty.

Other typical kids may have different goals at the ages out children are, but I look at the hard work our kids put in to almost everything they do so if I need to de rust Elizabeth’s cursive signature, I will.

This is just something to encourage us all as we see the new school year in front of us and as we see the work our kids need to do.

I just kicked the rust off of my skills and that was okay.

Why not for them as well?

I wish everyone a peaceful week.

Michele Gianetti author of I Believe In You

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