the iep ramble – countdown to middle school edition

What follows is a very slightly edited version of a post that I originally published here in May of 2013. When I read it his morning, I knew that immediately it was exactly what I needed to hear and exactly what I needed to say. xo, J

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{Image is a drawing of a woman on the phone. Text reads: “Oh and I’m so excited for our IEP meeting tomorrow!” Said no one. Ever.}

Prepping for today’s IEP meeting

The big one

The one where we plan for next year

*Cue Jaws Music*

… middle school

Placement

Support

Goals

No

Wait

Goals

Support

Placement

Better, yes?

Reading reports this morning

My stomach in knots

Words like

Deficits

Challenges

Criterion

Borderline

Severe

Anxious

Shut down

Unable

Below

Weak

Struggles

It’s easy to miss the other words

The ones she started with

Delightful

Curious

Personable

Endearing

Charming

Funny

Progress

Capable

Yup, they’re right there too

Before the pages and pages and pages of what’s hard

They’re there

In black and white

On record

In the report

Written by the speech therapist who not only knows her — truly, really knows her — but clearly adores her

And better — better? — respects her

Those words are there

Delightful

Curious

Personable

Endearing

Charming

Funny

Progress

Capable

And they are every bit as true and real and salient as the others

It is my job to remember

To remind

That for every deficit there’s a delight

For every challenge there’s progress

Forward

Forward

Forward

We’ll decide on goals

Then support

Then placement

Because that

That is the order

It’s my job to remember

To remind

That the overarching goal

The one from which all others derive

Is not uniformity

No

Is not indistinguishability from others

No

Is not keeping up with a timeline that’s not hers

No

It’s being Brooke

Brooke – in all her …

Delightful

Curious

Personable

Endearing

Charming

Funny

Capable

… glory

With the tools to be

Happy

Comfortable

Fulfilled

Successful by her own measure

Which IS success by any other

Yes

It’s my job to remember

To remind

That for every deficit there’s a delight

For every challenge there’s progress

For every weakness there’s strength

We’ll start there, shall we?

With the strengths

With all that my girl CAN do

I hope they’ve got time

It’s a long list

Then we can talk about support for the areas in which she struggles

And then Brooke

Brooke will talk

She will say whatever she wants us to hear

My money is on a team cheer

Any takers?

And cheer we will

Because we are HER team

Team Brooke

It is my job to remember

To remind

There is no Team Brooke without Brooke

To ensure that she’s there

In the room

Sowing the seeds of self-advocacy

Working toward the goals

That ultimately she will set

For now we’ll go with

Happy

Comfortable

Fulfilled

Successful by her own measure

Forward

Forward

Forward

For our …

Delightful

Curious

Personable

Endearing

Charming

Funny

Capable

… girl.

*

Showtime.

18 thoughts on “the iep ramble – countdown to middle school edition

  1. I have every faith that you and team Brooke will do the absolute right things for Brooke. Thinking of you today (as always).

    Love you,
    Mom

  2. Sending you lots of good luck and positive vibes across the water. You say so many great things here.
    Be strong. Your daughter is fortunate to have you and you her…

  3. Thinking about you today and wishing you good luck….no matter how often you go to these meetings they are always stressful, keep focusing on the positive!

  4. We are moving to middle school next year, too. We will be doing our IEP for next year a little later. I will keep this tucked away for when it’s our turn.

    I was going to say keep us posted on how it goes, but that probably doesn’t need to be said. 😉

    Sending you strength and good wishes.

  5. Great words. Your honesty has made me a better mom to my child. Thank you.

    We made the move to Middle School this past August. The IEP prep in Feb of 5th grade, the one I was so confident would set my amazing son up for success during the transition, did not function well in the hands of the new team at the new school.

    It takes an amazing amount of self-confidence to not stand back and let the teachers do what they know. Get to know the new school. Inform the team what your child’s needs are. Prepare with confidence that she will adjust because of your positive, willing spirit.

    Had I known: that the MS team would take my words and advice and place them on ‘hold’ until they got to know my child – I would’ve pushed more. That there were other classes that he could take that accommodate him better than where he started – he would have been placed there first, not after two weeks of falling apart. That the ‘wait and see’ attitude of the team would lead my child to collapse and crumble – no. Don’t wait. Let them hear you again & again.

    I didn’t know then what I know now. Keep the positive talk going, and not just to yourself. Offer the new school team scenarios that are likely to happen and listen as to how they respond. Take cues from the tone that is set. Then, continue your positive talk.

    I am excited to read the follow-up posts today to see how your meeting went!

  6. Love the reorder of goals, support, placement. Rock on mama. You’ve got this. Thinking of you today and look forward to reading about it.

    xo

  7. Wish I’d read this yesterday before our preliminary transition to Middle School IEP meeting. It’s perfect! Butanyway, the Middle School transition person from the Middle School didn’t show up? Very promising. Ack. Thanks and love,

  8. I’m in the middle of trying to write my own accommodations letter/report with my magical NT expert helper–she wants me to post it online for other people to see when I’m done, so stay tuned for…me trying to fit my brain in a page? Yeesh. And I’ve been looking back over your posts about IEP meetings and such. Because I’ll consider my letter-writing efforts an unqualified success if I can manage to be half as respectful and supportive of myself as you guys are of Brooke. I’m completely serious.

    You are giving her such a gift when you show her it’s never okay for “self-advocacy” to mean she must advocate for herself alone.

    • this

      it’s never okay for “self-advocacy” to mean she must advocate for herself alone.

      oh my god. yes.

      and i’m here if i can help in any way.

      xo

  9. Omg, I love the way you write! It’s so freaking immersive, like, a story from free-verse! Our worlds are solar systems away, and it doesn’t even matter! I can still feel you, over here on the other side!

  10. Don’t assume that anything will be done the same way as the old school did them! That’s the big thing I learned this year when my son transitioned to middle school. I had met the previous year and started talking about the transition and the need to identify the aide working with him and having the transition of his elem aide for the first few weeks and nothing was carried out the right way. It was a disaster! The new school didn’t utilize the willing teachers and aide that had worked wit him since he was 3 and instead did things their own way and proceeded to break any trust that could have formed. My guy went from a full productive 4th grade experience to a year filled with trips to their “new quiet room”, physical restraint and ongoing struggles to get an outside placement. My heart breaks that all the planning and information fell on deaf ears and my son is suffering because of their stupidity and selfish pride. I now am only able to get him to school 2 or 3 times per week and the days he goes still results in trips to the quiet room due to aggression. This is child that loves to please people and give hugs, kisses, etc!
    My next meeting is a week away and I am doing everything I can to remove him from this situation. So my best advice is to never assume that things and people will be done the same and be the best over protective lioness that you can be to help your child!

    Good luck!
    Kim

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