Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Individual Educational Meeting

Today is that once a year meeting that all parents who have children disabilities in America look forward to with a bit of optimism or complete dread. It's an Individual Education Meeting or I.E. P. for short. This is the meeting we have each year to discuss any progress or shortcomings of sorts our child/children are facing.

Our first I.E.P. meeting happened in February 2006 and it was terrible. Our house isn't in the best neighborhood, so before they got to the meat of the meeting I had to stop them and ask them to stop talking to us like we were morons because we were pretty well educated. It doesn't hurt that my mom has a Master's Degree in Chapter One Reading and had spent a while working on her Master's in Special Education and that Aunt Nina was the gifted teacher for South High. I had a lot of information and resources at my disposal. Once we established some respect and courtesy ground rules, it just went downhill from there. Each person had tested Elizabeth and she fell short by leaps at the time. After leaving there, I felt like all the air had been sucked out of my lungs and I wanted to cry. We knew something wasn't right, and we didn't have our official diagnosis yet from Dr. Kerschon, but after that meeting there was no going back to living in denial that something was wrong with our little girl.

Today we face a new I.E.P. and the challenges she faced back when we first started have changed significantly. We've gone from learning how to socially interact appropriately with others (we still have social goals in her I.E.P.'s just not like when we first started) to working on understanding concepts, like beginning, middle, and end and before and after concepts. These are major changes. The little girl who barely spoke except in jargon or to echo what you'd said (it's called echolalia) can talk your ear off. The child who used to require that Mrs. Silveous peal her off of my leg, now walks herself into school and has friends. While we have come so far, it still smarts a bit when faced with the areas that still need some focus and work. As she gets older the gaps between her peers and Elizabeth is closing in so she's closer to being like her friends in school. Regardless of our progress, the children at Spaght all know her and say "Hi" to her often in the halls and out in public. I know that without the children and the special needs team at Spaght, we might not have made as much progress with Elizabeth.

I hope you all have a good week.

Love in Christ,
Maureen

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