It’s conference week at school and that has meant a varied schedule and half-days. Conference week also means an IEP review for Juliana. For those who are new to a special needs life, an IEP is an Individualized Education Program that guides the support and services for students with disabilities.
I hear a lot of bad things about IEP’s and I listen but also filter out information that is more negative than useful. Someday, if we run into a bad IEP team or a teacher who is horrible at managing the process, you can be certain that I’ll write about it and speak my mind. But, I’ve got nothing but praise and high-fives for Juliana’s IEP team. The meeting went well and I was very impressed with the way Juliana’s teacher directed it.
If I polled a group of special needs parents and said “What was your favorite part of your child’s IEP meeting this year?” I wonder if I would get some odd stares. But, if you asked me the question, I wouldn’t give a blank stare or have to think twice. My favorite part was hearing all the wonderful things that Juliana has accomplished over the last year, and the way her teacher brought it to the forefront of the meeting.
With introductions, greetings and legal logistics out of the way, she said, “Let’s start by reviewing Juliana’s progress report.” I was glad she started the meeting that way. It set the tone for a positive, productive exchange. Mind you, Lamar and I had already read the document from start to finish. When I sat down to read it a few days ago, a bit of sadness washed over me. You see the IEP is a complete record of everything. With that, there are a list of things that Juliana has not mastered. I dwelled on those things for about five seconds. When I could feel myself going where I didn’t need to, I said a quick prayer of re-direction and thanks and moved on. We know that Juliana has significant developmental delays. But sometimes, it catches me off guard when I see it in writing. While we are realistic about her needs, we are also optimistic of the things she will eventually be able to do. This post
from the summer is a testament to that.
Jessa and I have a little game that we play and I guess you could call it “Your Favorite Part.” At the end of the day or the end of an activity I’ll say “What was your favorite part?” Sometimes, we’ll do it at dinner and everyone has to weigh in. You never know what responses you’ll get. Today, Jessa’s favorite part of the day was her broccoli at dinner. No, I am not making this up! Isn’t this great though? In my mind, it’s an early lesson in gratitude and appreciating the little things.
If I polled a group of special needs parents and said “What was your favorite part of your child’s IEP meeting this year?” I wonder if I would get some odd stares. But, if you asked me the question, I wouldn’t give a blank stare or have to think twice. My favorite part was hearing all the wonderful things that Juliana has accomplished over the last year, and the way her teacher brought it to the forefront of the meeting. We spent a lot of time discussing the good things and celebrating her progress. It’s what you need in an IEP meeting to get some balance.
Maybe there are a lot of things that we are still working toward Juliana mastering. That’s okay. She’ll get there. And that’s the beauty of the favorite part game–even from an IEP review. Because with the favorite part game, you get to focus on the positive and choose the thing that lifted your spirit the most.