Pretend I’ve invited you to your child’s school for a meeting. And I tell you that the meeting will be you and 5-10 people who you do not really know, but in many ways they hold the keys to your child’s destiny and future. And, during that meeting, we are going to discuss all of your child’s negative behaviors, all of the ways they are not measuring up to their age-peers, all of their regression, all their faults and all of their shortcomings. When you go to this meeting, if you ask for things to try to fix this, we are going to continually say “no” and moreover, tell you that your opinions are wrong. Would you go to this meeting?
Well, it’s not pretend, that is what a portion of the IEP meeting is, right?
So it’s no wonder that we cry!
Mind you, of course I cry too. Crying is normal. But I don’t cry at IEP meetings anymore. I treat my IEP meeting as a business meeting. I am there on business–to get my child’s needs met. It doesn’t mean I love my child any less, I just approach it differently. I was in the professional work force for 20 years and I don’t think I ever cried at a business meeting, have you?
This post has been on my mind for MONTHS. I hear from so many moms….when you send me emails or Facebook messages with your questions and concerns. And I’ve been thinking of a way to reach more moms, help more moms….help us grasp this whole IEP thing, begin to make sense of it. Most of all, I want to help stop the tears. Because I get that concern a lot: “I don’t want to cry, but I can’t help it!”
I recently heard an advocate say something to the effect of “crying (at meetings) is ok, it shows your fierce love for your child.” I disagree. Mind you, this is not an attempt to finger wag or shame moms who have cried at IEP meetings. Sometimes our emotions get the best of us and WE HAVE ALL been there. However, I don’t think that any mom feels fierce or empowered in the moments that she is crying at IEP meetings. You might feel embarrassed, vulnerable, mad at yourself for losing control, frustrated and sad. But I don’t think that fierce comes to mind.
Think about the reasons you cry at an IEP meeting:
- you’re sad because of your child’s losses
- you’re sad because of your child’s lack of progress
- you don’t feel his IEP is adequate
- you don’t feel you’re being listened to, and have tears of frustration
If I had to narrow it down, those are probably the main reasons that Moms cry at IEP meetings, right? And you know what, there is a time and a place to mourn all of this, but the IEP meeting is not the time or the place.
So let’s work on fixing the first one, so that we can deal with it at another time, and the last three….let’s eliminate them. By law, the child is to be making “meaningful progress,” the IEP should be appropriate and individualized and the parent is an equal member of the IEP team. We have discussed each of these issues at length in the Facebook group and on the blog, and will continue to do so. Please continue to email me with your specific questions, I am happy to answer them.
Use the IEP process, a few starter tips to get you going on those last 3 bullet points–
- Most important part of IEP
- IEP toolkit with free printables and IEP meeting advice
- Those two posts have enough reading inside of them to get you started.
(Blog Owner’s Note: This post was originally published on 1/1/15, but I am updating it. We have already done a tremendous amount of collaboration as a group and there is a ton of new stuff on the site, but please, join us!)
So join us on this journey….all year long I’m going to have more apps, advice, organizers and printables. I’ll also have blog posts and webinars on how to best use them. Staying organized and having proper documentation is half the battle. It’s not just all year, actually it is the main focus of the blog! Empowering Moms!
I’ve also recently created a Facebook group where parents can gather for IEP advice and support. Go submit a request to join and you can begin to chat with other parents on this journey.
There’s nothing else to do really….just come along with us as we share tips and strategies and tools to make this our BEST YEAR EVER.
Come along for the ride!