Tuesday, August 24, 2010

IEP spells anxiety


Next week school starts and I am in a total rush to get everything done.  so the following is a rerun of a very early post of mine. I hope to be back in regular posting mode next week. Until then, I hope that you are all enjoying your summer. 


"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education". ~ Mark Twain



  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. I would carry a notebook AND pencil! I would write things down, take notes, ask questions-make things happen. I was a parent to be reckoned with.

  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.sigh... It all went steadily 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 else notice? He went on.."I I I I jjjjjustwwwwwwawa wawawawanted totellyouhowhahahahppyIamtobeworkingwithyour sosososon" Didn't anyone else see this? This COULD NOT be real!  THIS was the person who was going to model speech to my non verbal son??? Am I the only one who notices? This was my expert? I was stupefied, incredulous...I started to panic ...I remember thinking "This HAS to be a joke..Am I being punked? Is this Candid Camera?" ( It was that ridiculous) 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! Desperate! 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 one of my children's best experts. 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.

10 comments:

Socrates said...

Ya, I have issues with the professionals that do The Voice.

For me it's just humiliating - for kids, I wonder if it actually causes more problems than it solves.

Surely you need to provide them with a model of good speech, with the normal range of intonation and rhythms?

We'll have to see if we can find an expert to advise...

Jen said...

Is it bad that I sprayed tea all over my lovely baby fingermark free screen at this? The irony of the situation is just too much and I know you aren't exaggerating, I do. How did you keep it together? My Dad had such a bad stammer that he actually couldn't speak until I was past 10 years old so I am very used to this, but the irony got me here!!

kathleen said...

Hi Socrates-It was not a good experience for my boy..He actually wound up imitating the therapists stutter..Very bizarre as his language was so very limited-but his stimmy noises were in "stutter" The therapist was moved out of the nursery program to work with older kids-I don't know how that went. As for THE VOICE ? sigh..me too..still do..

Hi Jen-yes..if anything I played it down a bit. This meeting went well over an hour and a half-I was a frazzled piece of nothing afterwards. Thankfully, Omar is so much better in these situations-he too was blown away by the irony..but he is more the professional adult of us, so he could contain it. I just could not believe this was A. happening and B. no one seemed the least bit concerned..freaked out..at a loss for words? Sadly, I have a terrible habit of laughing at the worst possible moments...(but they are funny moments!)

Sirenity said...

extra hugs for you Kathleen!

Clay said...

I would have no idea what to say to a Speech Therapist who stuttered that much.

kathleen said...

Thanks sirenity..:)
Hi Clay-Me too! This was just really really awful..from that day on-no matter what, when I saw him I found myself talking really fast and finishing his sentences for him..Then I would be embarrassed..and I worried that he was..especially after I laughed through our initial first meeting...

Big Daddy said...

Although I've never had an experience like this at an IEP, it still makes me nervous. Being in an elementary school for me is harrowing. Surrounded by a group of teachers, administrators, therapists, etc. in a small room makes it even worse. I love the Mark Twain quote you used and, if it makes you feel any better, I bet that you weren't the first parent to react that way when you encountered his stutter in such a stressful situation.

kathleen said...

Hi Big Daddy-Thanks..:)yeah..I understand your anxiety..any sort of school makes me feel that way..(I was not a very "good girl" in primary or secondary school)...sigh.-Plus in the elementary school meetings..we always sit in tiny kid size chairs..I think, from a psychological standpoint that is weird. I went to that meeting with such HOPE..finally I would have answers-work with experts..people who I thought knew what they were doing. Looking back-I can laugh at this story-but at the time..I felt miserable..the last thing I wanted to do was make someone with a stutter feel so self conscious..and there I was shaking with..well...hysteria.

Casdok said...

I am so glad our IEPs and schools are over!

jazzygal said...

Oh dear... I do hate when people can't see the pink elephant in the room! Gosh...what a situation to be in. I, like you agree with equal employment opportunities... but... seriously... a speech therapist that stammers?? Unbelievable!

I hope this year's IEP's go better... now that you're such a pro ;-)!!

xx Jazzy