The schedule for my boys I.E.P (individual education plan) meetings came in the mail a month ago, and I still haven't signed and sent them back. It's not intentional, this procrastination-really, I don't do it on purpose. It's just that schools make me anxious. I don't fully understand it myself. It is as if the minute I walk into a school building-poof! I'm an awkward sixteen year old. I think that part of this anxiety stems back to adolescence. As a kid, I wasn't what you ever would have called an "ideal student". I spent an awful lot of time in offices....the principals, the dean of students, the dean of studies, the headmasters..(and it wasn't to discuss literature.) It's not that I was a bad kid...I was just a little "high spirited"...perhaps... a bit more. (but hey, who here is going to argue? It's my story and I'm sticking to it.) I don't have trouble behaving as an adult in day to day life. I am responsible, a good parent-I pay my bills. It is just that I never think of myself as one, and it astounds me, when other people do. When we first started to deal with school and my sons needs, I had a positive attitude. I wanted the best for my boy, and I was eager to get together with a team of "experts" to start planning his education.I put all worry aside. Anxious? Not me! I would be an adult, both in words and in actions.
Our very first I.E.P. meeting was seven years ago. My son at the time was three years old, and in the process of being diagnosed. We were having a meeting with our case worker, the special ed nursery school teacher, the occupational therapist and the speech therapist. I was excited to get help for our boy. I looked forward to finally getting some answers and advice. This was my first real foray into the world as a mother, and I so very much wanted to make a good impression. Before the meeting started, our case worker took us aside and said "I have to warn you...the speech therapist stutters." I thought "Why is she telling me this... does she think I'll say something?" We sat down and began making introductions. Everything was fine-until the speech therapist spoke. It all went downhill from there.
Saying that he simply had a stutter was an understatement.. Every single word was broken down letter by letter, or they were clumped up and spit out all at once. "He he he he he he ll ll ll ll ll o o o o o o o"...he said, "I wwwwwwiiilllllbeteachingyoursonspeech... I quickly looked around the table- No one was reacting.- Didn't anyone notice? He went on.."I I I I jjjjjustwwwwwwawa wawawawantedtotellyouhowhahahahppyIamtobeworkingwithyoursosososon" Did anyone else see this? This can't be real. THIS was the person who was going to model speech to my non verbal son??? Am I the only one who sees this? This was my expert? I was stupefied, incredulous...I started to panic ... and then(sigh), the inevitable happened.... I started to laugh, I had to...it was if I were possessed. I didn't want to -really, I didn't. I tried stopping it...I must NOT lose control! But, the more he spoke, the more I sweat. My upper lip was moist, my armpits drenched..I was shaking. At this point- everyone is looking at me-as if something were wrong...WITH ME! Every time he would start to speak, I would giggle..in tandem. He would say "K K K a a aaa-and I would be breathing/giggling H H H a a aaa- simultaneously.. I was rigid yet quivering at the same time.. "Whats the matter, are you o.k.? someone asked. "No, I'm just not feeling very wehehehehell." It was horrible. I was so flustered...I was losing control . I started finishing his sentences for him...I COULDN"T let him speak. I was desperate to make it stop! Finally! After what felt like an eternity-the meeting ended. I was a wrung out wreck....exhausted and so ashamed. I would NEVER make fun of someones disability. It was the situation that got to me. I had gone into that meeting with such hope. We did not know what was going on with our boy. I had expected answers-help. I definitely had not been expecting what they offered.
It has been seven years and many I.E.P. meetings since that awful day. I have learned so much in that time. Both about myself and my kids. I am my children's best expert. I am no longer afraid to ask,and sometimes even to demand, the services that they need. I am however, still anxious when it comes to school offices. But I am working on it. I will mail the I.E.P. forms out today....if I remember to. Sometimes it's tough being a "high spirited"..... adult.