Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The IEP(and how it feels for me personally)

Every year I rant on Facebook about how much I dread Kendall's IEP.  Often, in response, some people will tell me to be thankful for them or thankful for the team of people that Kendall has behind her and her IEP.  So, before I start this I want to assure everyone that I am thankful.  It took months and months for the school to hire a teacher this year but in the end they hired a great one.  One that understands IEP's from a teachers perspective and from a parents perspective because she has a child with an IEP.  I am grateful for her OT, Speech teacher, adaptive PE teacher(he's so great), the school psychologist(she was the only one who got up to get me kleenex when the tears started to fall) and everyone else that helps Kendall on a daily basis.  I am grateful for IEP's.  I just wish they could be administered differently so that they really get a COMPLETE picture of the child.  Ok, now that's out of the way.

Picture sitting at a table with all of the following people: Regular Ed teacher, resource specialist teacher, special ed teacher, principal, OT, speech, deaf and hard of hearing teacher, adaptive PE teacher and the kicker..... the school psychologist(pysc just come once every 3 years and this year she was there).  All sitting with their laptops and 25-30+ page long IEP's.  Each individual take turns going over the tests they have done with Kendall.  Each test she takes then tells us where she is equivalent to a "typical" child and what level she is functioning at.  The ENTIRE YEARS work that they have done with her is summed up based off different tests they do with her just to complete the IEP.  So, for example, she could say throw a ball 7ft into a target 10 times in a row but if on testing day(for the IEP) she only makes it 1/10 times that is what goes in the IEP and then the report comes back "very low functioning" age level equivalent of say a 3.5 year old or whatever.  Same with site word tests, math tests, things related to speech, phonetics, comprehension, language, fine motor skills, can she cut a circle? A square? Can she write a K?  Can she recognize upper case and lower case letters?  Does she recognize basic signs in life like stop signs, danger signs?  All of that plus more, so much more.  Then the school psychologist chimes in about observing her and her findings and it goes on and on and on.  All of this is happening while I(and Dan) sit there listening and staring at the papers that just constantly say over and over how far behind she is but they just keep going over test after test.  It's like a hard punch to the gut every single time they give the results.  Look, I've been told a time or two I'm pretty darn strong both mentally and physically and I could likely take some punches but this is NON STOP for almost 2 hours.  And the entire time I am thinking, these tests do NOT define Kendall.  Why is this all based on stupid tests?  Then some of the teachers start to admit this as well but I feel like they are saying it mainly because they see me start to cry(which normally I don't do in IEP's but today it just happened).  Without my tears, I think only a few of them would have remembered that they are talking about my child and this IEP process is PERSONAL not robotic.  Tests do NOT define someone. 

Then once they tell us the results of all these tests they move into setting goals for her for next year and give their reasoning behind the goals.  We either agree or not to these goals.  This is the easy part and goes by rather quickly.  It's much less painful than the first part.  Then it's pretty much over.   

For a short while some do start to talk about and recognize Kendall's big heart, how she's always happy and happy to see them and always willing to "do the work".  Some say she's even starting to get more competitive in things they do(I'll thank her competitive brothers for that).  Now these, these are the parts that truly matter to me.  Her heart, her smile, how kind she is, how friendly she is....why can't they measure that?  For Kendall, those are her strengths and they aren't tied into all these tests that the entire IEP is based upon.  Academics are never going to be where she excels but there are so many other areas that are more important for her to excel at and I just wish they could focus more on them.  I could care less if I ever hear another one of her academic tests results again in my life.  I do understand the importance of academics but not for Kendall.  For her, it's all about practical life skills from here on out.  Let's focus on realistic and achievable goals for her so that she can be as independent and confident as possible as she continues to grow up.  Let's also recognize her strengths because in my mind she's got what way too many "typical" kids are missing these days...that big ol' happy loving heart.  THE END.

About Me

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Married mom of 3 not so little ones anymore but they still keep me grinning and giggling(most of the time). Kendall, age 12, Brady age 8 almost 9 and "baby" Chase who is 7. I have been married for 14.5 years to Dan Graff, who I think is the best dad ever to our kids. He certainly makes me grin and giggle to this very day. I have spent my non mom career working in recruiting on and off over the years recruiting Software Engineers. Other than my kids my most favorite thing to do in the entire word is ride horses followed by Kung Fu, where I earned my purple belt last year. I have been riding since I was 8 years old, with some time off here and there but I always go back to it. As Winston Churchill said, "There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man"(or woman in this case)!