IEP: Who Wrote That?

 

My daughter is…

brilliant

independent

sweet

loving

strong

 

She loves…

animals

sliding

watermelon

cuddles

nature

 

She has…

innocence

curiosity

compassion

love

autism

 

 

Autism. It’s ONE word out of 15 that I chose to describe my angel.  JUST ONE.

D’s diagnosis of autism doesn’t tell you who she is, what she likes, or what she doesn’t. It doesn’t tell you that her smile will brighten the darkest of days or that her laughter is the music that my soul dances to.

Why this, now? Well, I received a copy of D’s IEP and while reading it today I was brought tearfully to my knees with it’s language.

“D isn’t… D can’t…. D doesn’t…”

My mother’s heart bleeds.

I know that my sweet girl has challenges. I know that she struggles to communicate with her peers. I know that she sometimes can be overwhelmed.  None of this is new to me.   What is new to me is the callous, cruel focus; the word “can’t” in relation to my daughter. See, in this house, there is no “can’t.” There is not yet. There is hope. There is the will to never give up, never give in.

There is love. Unconditional, unyielding, unshakable love for the person that D is now and will become. I don’t care what the textbooks say she should be. I’m not raising a textbook. I’m raising a precious little girl to, I hope, be unafraid to be herself, to pursue her highest potential and be strong enough to stand against the winds that life inevitably blows.

Life with autism isn’t always easy. There are days, like today, when it can bring me to knees. There are far more days when I am in awe of D’s uncrushable spirit, her determination, her desire to learn.

No matter what the day brings, one thing remains the same: I am proud of D. I am proud to be her mom. No one can take that from me, or from her.

So, to whomever D’s IEP, I realize that it’s your “job” to point out D’s challenges so that goals can be made to work on them in the coming year. I don’t fault you for that. What I DO find fault with is that the entire focal point of this document was on what needs improvement. The next time you write an IEP, for D- or any other child- remember something, please. That document is more to a parent than just a clinical piece of paper. What and how you write can help or it can hurt. Do your job, but remember that there is so much MORE to the child you are writing about than a diagnosis.

So much more.

 

 

 

 

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One thought on “IEP: Who Wrote That?

  1. This is such a heartfelt post, thank you for sharing this with us. I wanted to add that an IEP is in no way a replacement for a curriculum and in our case we realized the school did not have any cohesive plan in place for teaching our child. They had no workbooks, and were printing random (color the bunny) misc. sheets off of the internet. We did not know that our child had been taken out of social studies and science activities and given extra PE time. We were shocked to find there was no direction to her learning in the public school system even though the school was getting thousands of dollars in funding just for having her enrolled.

    We began at our local book outlet and bought all kinds of learning material at her level. There is an unlimited amount of teaching resources out there and no child should ever be left behind because of lack of vision or imagination on the part of the teacher.

    The IEP is written so the instructor has some way of proving they were able to get the child to respond in certain instances. It is not a curriculum but it is being used as an excuse not to provide a curriculum. In a whole year our child came home with maybe three pieces of scribbled on paper. At the end of her first grade year she still did not know what 1 plus 1 was! That is just not acceptable. I especially don’t care for the way IEPs stipulate a flat-rate assessment of everything, so that it reads almost the same for each skill/goal: “Will identify with 75% accuracy on documented opportunities.” My concern with this:

    • The goals are all set with the exact same percentage expectation, even though her skill level for each of those items is in different progressive stages, (so she shouldn’t even be expected to grasp certain skills 75% of the time but rather 50%).
    • This wording lets the teacher off the hook; if they can just get her to do it 2 or 3 times over the course of the quarter with any kind of accuracy (I coined this The Monkey Effect), then the child fulfills the documented 75% benchmark and therefore knows the material.
    • In the case of a child with intellectual disability or autism information that is learned is sometimes not apparent because the child will not be able to verbalize what they really understand, so the child is incorrectly labeled as failing a topic just because they didn’t speak up, which is more a communication problem then a concept problem. “Too late, I asked you three times and you didn’t speak up.”
    • A benchmark goal written this way puts the teacher in the position of meeting a target, rather than teaching the child. When you move on/up to the next topic and certain material isn’t really mastered, you are setting the child up for failure. The door needs to be open to revisit material any time the teacher deems appropriate. Our child couldn’t do most of the things her IEP benchmarks suggested at the end of her last public school year, indicating failure – and the report card made it look like it was our childs problem. (we are now home schooling).
    Additionally, an ^alternate proficiency assessment^ for a disabled child on an IEP should give the school enough flexibility to accommodate a variety of actual material in every topic, at her learning level, and to test her based on what she was exposed to rather than checking “no couldn’t do that” on every item that all the other kids learned.

    The system SUCKS. Parents, don’t stand for that.

    Thanks again, we are happy to be following you!

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