As my IEP meeting approaches I felt compelled to share how it has impacted our lives for the better. How as a parent it has encouraged me in many ways. Initially I was very skeptical to report Isaac’s diagnosis to his school. I was afraid he would be treated differently and labeled by his teachers and peers.
When Isaac was in Kindergarten, I didn’t think he needed help. I assumed he would catch on, and follow the example of some of the other kids. I thought he would sit if he saw everyone sitting. With his high levels of energy and compulsive behavior his teacher expressed her concerns. We both agreed and moved forward in the IEP process.
In the first meeting I didn’t know what to expect, I had researched IEP meetings regarding talking points. But I didn’t think I would feel sad. I was concerned for Isaac’s academic success and his future. I felt broken. It made his ASD diagnosis real, especially in the eyes of the School. We discussed some of Isaac’s strengths and weaknesses. One of my goals in the meeting was to keep it positive throughout. After the meeting I felt so thankful to have a caring IEP team. People who took time after school to help me and my son. I was grateful for his wonderful teacher without her love and support we wouldn’t be where we are now. We were truly blessed to have such an amazing teacher throughout this process.
Once the goals were in place and realistic I felt instant relief. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but his teacher and I were in constant communication about Isaac’s progress. I was very comfortable talking with her and I knew she understood what we were going through and that she truly cared.
This is one of the most important aspects of the IEP, in my opinion. It’s more than just setting goals and creating a different curriculum for your kiddo, it’s about the relationships with teachers and administrators. Having a child with special needs is already hard enough and to have a team of people advocating for your child is amazing. It’s a team effort and I believe the more people on your side the better.
A few months passed and I noticed the improvements. He received an award for most improved at the end of the year along with awards for excellence in reading. I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I praised all of his progress and felt so proud of his accomplishments. Isaac has to work harder than his peers. So these awards meant so much to me, and he was so proud on that stage. It was a reflection of our hard work.
Today he’s in first grade and had to switch schools in the middle of the school year. Although that came with a whole different set of challenges, we’re still working on some behaviors but, he’s making progress in writing and reading. His teachers are helpful and we work together to ensure he has all the tools he needs for classroom success. He is beginning to love school, it’s amazing when he comes home to tell me all the things he learned.
One thing I try to remind myself of when I look at Isaac is that he is not alone. ASD has brought Isaac and I even closer and we are growing together. We talk about different things and he teaches me so much. Through the IEP I feel that Isaac is protected and that he will receive whatever he needs for his future.
So, if you are like I was, don’t be afraid to tell the school about your child’s needs. We have rights, and resources available to us it’s our job to advocate for our children and be the voice they need to succeed.