IEP’s and an Anthem.

IEP’s and our Anthem.

It’s the end of the school year (can I get an AMEN?!) and with that comes the infamous IEP meetings. I always feel for the teachers and staff that have to call in substitutes and miss class for what must seem like endless meetings day in and day out. I do not envy them, and I deeply appreciate those who show up to every meeting and advocate for their student that  is represented by the IEP.

As the parent with a child of an IEP, nothing can really prepare you for reviewing your child’s IEP. (By the way, did you know that you have a legal right to review your child’s IEP *BEFORE* the meeting so you fully understand it and are well prepared with questions? All you have to do is ask for it!) The review is emotional and difficult as you pour over page after page of cold assessment of what feels like laser-like attention to the deficits of your child. For this reason alone, it is worthwhile to go through the IEP before the meeting. There is so much to process, and we never want to go into the meeting emotional or gobsmacked at the lists of goals. It’s hard to stay centered in the present after reviewing the assessments as your mind floats to the future and stays there while processing in fear and uncertainty. We are well aware of the area’s in which our child struggles; no one needs to tell us that he has difficulty sitting in his seat, or responding appropriately in certain situations, or that “Liam is a really great kid…”. After pages and pages of what feels like deficits, the “really great kid” part feels patronizing and insincere.

However, this is part of the process. We have to acknowledge Liam’s challenge so we can put in place accommodations for his success. I have to remember that the IEP allows Liam to learn to the best of his ability. Matt and I study the end of year assessments of Liam’s progress to figure out what accommodations he will need for next year. And while the individuals that sit around the table work with him for 8 hours a day, WE are his parents. WE have HIS best interest in mind, before rules,laws, and available resources come into play. So when we read pages and pages of challenges that Liam faces in cold report form, and the fear and tears overtake us, we HAVE to remember that this is only the beginning part of the process, and that Liam carries the end part. Liam never disappoints us with his part of the IEP process; he always overcomes and succeeds.

When I heard the song “Rise Up” by Andra Day, I both stood taller and sobbed in comfort. The only thoughts that come to mind when I hear this song is our journey with autism and advocating for Liam. And today after reviewing the IEP for our meeting this Friday, I deemed it our anthem.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwgr_IMeEgA

The chorus is the very best part and makes us stand up tall, prepared to take on the world for Liam:

And I’ll rise up

I’ll rise like the day

I’ll rise up

I’ll rise unafraid

I’ll rise up

And I’ll do it a thousand times again

And I’ll rise up

High like the waves

I’ll rise up

In spite of the ache

I’ll rise up

And I’ll do it a thousand times again

For you

-Andra Day “Rise Up”

Liam Mathew Joseph,

Your greatness can not be contained in an IEP.  We advocate for you every time we walk into that room, and you better believe the first thing we do is talk about your strengths. We control the conversation with understanding of your challenges in the light of your strengths. We help those that care for you and teach you understand how you work best and how you come to the world, and we will do this for you as long as we have breath in our lungs. You teach us daily how to “rise up, high like the waves”; you are our greatest teacher of things that truly matter in this life, and we are so wildly proud of you.

Love you to the moon,

Daddy & Mommy

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One thought on “IEP’s and an Anthem.

  1. I think my son Theo is on a similar journey… Two years behind Liam. I saw your fatherhood video last year and immediately recognized what might be in my son’s future. So many similarities. One year later and Theo is learning to communicate on an iPad. I’m so excited that we will have this tool at our home soon! From skimming through your blog it appears that Liam is speaking now? How encouraging! I hope that is what happens for my Theo.

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