Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Today is Maggie's IEP or Individual Education Plan meeting. It's an annual review of where a special education student stands and what the goals and objectives are for the next year. The meeting culminates in the written IEP, basically a contract on how a student's education plan will go for the next year. If done correctly, it is a helpful document for student, parents and educators alike.
For some parents these meetings are a battle to get the items they want in the written plan. There is strategic maneuvering and planning beforehand and precision execution on the day of the meeting. This is necessitated when parents want more than the school district is willing to provide - sometimes because school districts are not doing what they are supposed to do and sometimes because parents are overreaching. Either way, it can be upsetting and difficult for all parties.
Maggie's IEP' have never been like that. Perhaps because her needs are so extreme, everyone is on the same page regarding Maggie's needs and abilities. It is a long meeting, usually about two hours, where all the different people who work with Maggie give their reports of her strengths and weaknesses. I am grateful and happy that all these professionals spend time with her and work together to help her achieve all she does. There are no surprises at the meeting because I keep myself in the loop all year long. I don't have any new issues to bring up and do not expect any major changes to her program. I expect this will be the all the other IEP meetings she has had, congenial and helpful.
Despite the love fest that Maggie's IEPs tend to be, they are difficult on me. Another year has gone by and though she improves educationally every year, she is in a different world and it is never more apparent than at these meetings. We are measuring her but we are not using any measurement that is applicable in the normal world.
She is who she is and that's fine with me, but this is one of the few times I actually sit and think about other kids her age. I sit there for two hours and listen to how wonderful my daughter is and I'm proud and happy; but while we focus on her accomplishments, I can't help but think about what she cannot accomplish. Most 18 year old students are not praised for their ability to make appropriate 4 word sentences on their communication device.
Is it impressive? Hell yeah!
Does it hurt just a little? Definitely.