It is the IEP dance. First-timers might be surprised by the performance, thinking it either too slow, too fast, or generally lacking in finesse, but those of us in the know see it for what it is. It is the strip-tease without the T&A, the sometimes painfull disrobing of your childs abilities and how they do or don't fit in with the mainstreamed students. The student you mentally (or in my case, physically as well), brought into the meeting is transformed from the person you know into a series of percentages and deadlines.
But most leave feeling the same way: disappointed.
But not me. No way, uh-uh. Because after years of IEP meetings with Isaac, I have learned a simple survival trick.
Are you ready to hear it? Shhh, move closer. I will tell you if you promise not to pass judgement. Oh, hell. I will tell you anyway...
Lowered Expectiations. YES! I said it! Not about my child though - I lower my expectations about the MEETING. Because you know what? It is not really regarding my childs' academic future. Her academic future is a fluid thing, and I can gurantee we are not going to fully understand that in Kindergarten. We are creating the loose framework of her next year, to see what works and what doesn't. And if it doesn't work, we will change it. And I know we can change it in a heartbeat if I want to.
But I have learned two very important things from past IEP's.
First: Manage the Behavior and the Academics Will Follow. This should be obvious, but in many an IEP meeting, it is not fully addressed. I have learned this from my son who was labled as being at "high risk" for academic failure (I have read and re-read that particular IEP from Roseway and all I can see is the hidden word 'retarded' all over it, rat-bastards). Finally, at Pioneer, he learned to get his behavior in check and then suddenly there he was, not only catching up to his grade level but passing it in two subjects, in the space of 6 months. So I made sure that on her IEP the focus on Kindie was her behavior, because how can we expect her to learn in circle time if she is too anxious to even sit down with her classmates?
Second: This is Not A Sprint - It is a Marathon. And the route is not well marked, so it is ok to go off the beaten path. I really don't care about standardized ANYTHING at this point - and if my son or daughter solves a problem in a unique way, they are not going to be penalized for it. I am raising human beings, not robots, and Autistic ones at that. Their hardware is different, and I will do my best to make sure that they are proud of that, not ashamed. The finish line is there, and we will cross it (and for us, that finish line is to get the most out of the life they are given).
(My husband just pointed out that I sound a little 'rant-y'. Sorry).
Walking in with those two ideas in my head helped me to have what I would describe as a successful IEP meeting. She is going into a CB classroom (next door to Isaac's), and will slowly be mainstreamed through the year. The focus will be her behavior, and we are slowing down so we catch things as needed, instead of letting them all and scatter on the ground (oh, poor Isaac. Kindie as rough for him). Yes, should might be fine in a mainstream class. But there is a big difference between swimming and just dog-paddling.