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I just finished Addison's IEP.
When I started doing IEPs as a parent, I would leave feeling kind of depressed. I was sitting in this tiny chair that truly fit only one bum cheek (real life, people. real life.), talking for an hour and a half about everything that she wasn't doing or couldn't achieve and the NOTs.
Today...honestly...I left feeling super encouraged. And a little bit guilty. Okay lot guilty. To hear them explain everything that she's working on and achieving at school makes me feel like I'm not doing enough with her at home.
Also, I told the story to her speech therapist about how Addison said, "You are the worst mommy. That is unkind." I was trying to say THANK YOU for helping Addison learn to express how she feels. It is HUGE! But then the speech therapist was apologizing and trying not to take the blame for a child telling her mother that "she is the worst". It got awkward there for a minute. Did not think that through. I guess "thank you" cards come in all shapes and sizes.
"THANK YOU FOR TEACHING MY CHILD TO SAY THAT I AM THE WORST" lacks a certain kind of ring, but I give it points for creativity. (Get on that, Hallmark)
Today the biggest change for Addison is that she's doing so well that they want to give her some small independent slots of the day where SHE DOESN'T HAVE AN AIDE.
I'll admit, at first I was torn on this. Were they just getting cheap? Or was she really doing so well that this is the legit next step?
After thinking it through and listening to Addison's SPED's well articulated thoughts on this, I really do think that Addison is ready for this. She is participating so well in each class that for certain classes an aide shadowing her is just not necessary. (Such as music class). She has become so fiercely independent even at lunchtime she doesn't need help anymore.
My only concern was that if something happened during these times (for example a few weeks back Addison came home with marker drawn on her pants in a private area and I wanted to hear the story to make sure that she did that to herself)...how would I know what happened? So we compromised with her being in a small group para situation for lunch and recess...no aide for a specific 20 minutes a day plus music class....and then full time aide for the rest of the day.
My baby is growing up.
As I reflect on our IEP, I am just so grateful. Addison has an incredible team that fights for her. I really don't need to do any fighting in our current IEP situation. They present their thoughts...listen respectfully as I add mine...and they graciously consider all points of view as the final decision rests on what is best for Addison.
This is my long way of saying that I no longer leave discouraged. I don't see this as a meeting to discuss the "can't"s and the negatives. This is an opportunity to get an insight into Addison's days. This is a chance to focus on specific ways I can support her school time at home. This is a meeting of the minds to help Addison achieve her best in every possible way. This is a time to watch her teachers' faces light up as they talk about her. (And to laugh to hear them say that she can be a brilliant manipulator when she wants something. They're on to her!!!)
IEPs are a chance to be heard. To listen. To know that Addison is being pushed and yet accommodated (this is a tricky tricky balancing act and they do this brilliantly). To say thank you.
Speaking of which, I took my thank you gifts today. I appreciate everyone on my facebook page who had thoughts on this. I took each idea...divided it by the amount of time I had....multiplied it by how much I wanted to say thank you...and subtracted energy I had available to spend.
After tallying these numbers, today I took...(drum roll please) Dunkin Donuts gift cards. (I stayed up all night crafting these.)
But seriously, I am in such awe of Addison's team. She has her classroom teacher, her SPED, her speech therapist, a physical therapist, and OT...not to mention her music teacher and art teacher and PE teacher...and they all focus on their area of expertise in equipping Addison. I can't say enough good about every single person on her team.
I am extremely grateful for our district and for Addison's school.
So today I left her IEP encouraged. I never would have dreamed that Addison would be accomplishing all of this by the time she was 7. I never would have thought she would have a whole table of professionals smiling that they thought her dream job was to be a teacher and that she could already command control of her classroom.
I no longer wince whey they use words like "modified comprehension questions" and hear how some of her assignments are simplified to help her find success. She is in a mainstream, second grade classroom, has so many kind friends, and she comes home excited about learning and making progress in reading and math and science and ALL THE THINGS every single day. She is finding success! Modify away. The smile on her face as she grasps new concepts is worth it.
Using the IEP, they have created the perfect learning environment for Addison. As a result, she is thriving. IEP-- greenhouse specs. Addison-- blooming flowers.
I am overwhelmed with the amount of things that I am reminded of that I should be working with her as well. I am also aware that this might not always be such a rosy experience as she grows past second grade. BUT I am encouraged. Because what I used to see as the cup half empty (focusing on the "nots") I now see as the cup half full....she is getting there. With 100% accuracy. (-;