Welcome to IEP Land
I always knew my eldest son, Jack was a little bit different than other kids, but today was an eye-opener.
Today, Angi and I graduated from toddler land to “holy shit, our son is about to start kindergarten” land. Like many special needs parents, this land is full of specialists, teachers, therapists, principals, psychologists, and god knows who else. This transition requires meetings, lots of them… also known as, IEP’s (individualized education plans).
You see, I was fortunate (or maybe less fortunate?) to grow up not really knowing what the hell an IEP really was or who was involved or why they are important; until now.
As a parent, it’s not easy to read page after page of how far behind your kid is or hear each person around the table describe the pitfalls of your child’s progression. You go down the list….
Can hold a writing utensil? nope.
Able to sit in class? Wow, even I can’t do that!
Verbal Communication skills? ummm hardly.
…and the list goes on and on as these people dissect your child’s every move.
That’s the negative; and it hurts.
You also watch these same people light up when they talk about how loving and enjoyable Jack is. You hear them get fired up on the things he has improved on over the last year. More importantly, you see and hear the empathy, compassion, and willingness to create a positive environment for your child to be successful.
That’s the positive and I feel blessed to live in a community that continues to embrace special needs; more importantly- individuals who just want a chance to contribute.
Why do I post this you might ask…..?
Well- not every parent has this experience at an IEP meeting. There are many districts, communities, and states that don’t feel or respond the same way when it comes to people with special needs. Hell yes my son is different…I like to say that sometimes:)! But he’s also a pain in the ass like every other 5 year old.
We have a long journey ahead of us… but today, I am grateful and hopeful. Jack will be fully included in one of Sonoma Mountain’s kindergarten classes. I will continue to advocate for people with Down syndrome as they deserve a chance at life just like any of you reading or not reading this.