~"You better stop
Here it comes, here it comes, here it comes, here it comes
Here comes your nine-teenth nervous breakdown. ~" Jagger/Richards
I hate IEP meetings. Sitting in a small room thick with the anxiety and sweat of all the IEP meetings that preceded yours.. listening to a slew of information you mostly already know..only in greater detail. Told to you by a bunch of people who have been stuck in that tiny room all day-and who probably want to get this over with more than you do. First, you hear all the pleasant adjectives describing your child.."He is, nice, friendly,wonderful,charming,funny...etc(I have had so many IEP's over the years that I think that Sam has gone through the adjective list at least twice-and Oscar isn't far behind) Just once I would love to hear "He is a kick ass kid!" or "He freaking rocks!"....anything to just shake it up a bit. After the adjectives comes the list of deficits-kind of like Festivus for the educational set. Although this year-I was pleasantly surprised as they listed their accomplishments instead. After that you get to hear what they think should be done, how they are going to do it and in what amount of time it will be done in.That's when the real party really gets started. This is where you get to say what you think..and sometimes it works out..sadly, lots of the time you have to...exchange strong words..sometimes loudly...If you've done it-you know the drill. For any of you about to go through one-I wish you the all the best. We were lucky (so far) this year, Both of my boys meetings went well. We'll see in the coming year how closely their plans will be followed-but THAT is a whole other story.
So, I have two meetings down and one to go. Unfortunately, the one that is left, is the one I have dreaded the most. This year (as is done every three years here) Zoe is being re-evaluated. Fine-if that is what they have to do-so be it. The thing of it is-my little girl always seems to have to prove that she has issues. From her very first IEP meeting on. Her autism is not obvious.Social situations confound her at times. She is very quiet(at school)-she hates drawing attention to herself. In fact, she will do OR SAY anything that she can to take attention off of her. Even if it means she has to lie or fake it in order to do so. For instance, if she tells me she is having an issue (and it takes a lot for her to vocalize this) I will do what any parent would-I'll call the school and let them know. We praise her for telling us and promise that we will fix it. Only to be told(by the person we spoke to) later "No she really doesn't have an issue with that-I spoke to her and told her that it was probably really just this and she agreed with me. So we aren't going to change anything..because I was the same way as a child and it worked out for me. She's just going through what's "normal" for a girl her age." What they don't seem to get is what this does to her-how she internalizes this. Instead of just accepting what she tried to say-they put their own reasoning in- which pressures her (who is so very unsure of herself) into agreeing with them. Something also tells me that when they were a child dealing with their issues-their "normal" didn't encompass hours long screaming/crying jags, and hitting themselves, banging their heads on the wall..or curling up in a ball and sleeping for fifteen hours straight. But, they don't see that part-so therefore it doesn't exist.
We had another school issue last week. We tried diligently to figure out just why she was doing what she was doing.. I said-"How can we help you if you don't let us know what is going on?" When she finally did tell us, she begged us not to try and fix it "No! you always make it worse." ..*sigh* so much for advocacy or parenting..I feel as though I failed my girl this year.
So, her IEP is next Friday-and I don't believe that I will be able to relax until it is over. I do have to say-that she has had some wonderful people around her this year as well. People who have really tried to make things as easy as possible for her. My biggest fear is that there will be an attempt to take away this support. All because she seems "so normal." Who knows-maybe I will be delightfully surprised. Either way-I refuse to fail her this time. Oh, if only I had a damn owners manual...