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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Perfectly made


Dear IEP team members,

As the mama to the little girl that we just spent over an hour talking about, I want to say more than our 60-minute time slot allowed.

IEP meetings are hard.
{That may be the understatement of the year.}
They suck.  

For a parent, sometimes it feels like IEP meetings are a laundry list of how your child isn't meeting standards.  They can be an in-your-face reminder of all the ways your child can't fulfill expectations in comparison to her peers.  They are a meeting, (with the same people in your child's life that form and mold her future,) that tell you all the ways she is falling short and can't progress with out their help.  For a mama, they can feel like fear and failure and stress in the guise of help and assistance and support.  For parents, these meetings might involve trying to wing it and not knowing quite what you need to say in the midst of a panel of experts with rehearsed scripts and far more practice than you.  They are bi-annual reminders of how far we we've come with a much larger emphasis on how far we still must progress.  They involve a plan to work twice as hard for things that come easily to the rest.  They rehash the hurdles and surface the tears.  They are a whole team of folks that again articulate the struggles and how things don't quite fit.  The are too frequently a car ride home with mama tears and worry and wondering how all the dreams fit into such a plan.  Sometimes IEP meetings are like a search for more options when we know there are few.

To those of you who nodded in agreement with a too much vigor about her lack of progress... for those who might have made a slightly exasperated sigh that we were suppose to hear but weren't suppose to not notice... please know that our daughter is perfectly made.  Perfectly made.  If you possibly looked at us like we don't quite get it, know that not only do we get it, but we get so much more than you could ever understand.  We get what's truly important... that she is perfect just the way she is.  Know that there is not only immense pride in raising a "special" daughter, but we wouldn't change a single step in her journey.  It has created the amazing, wonderful, incredible child before you.  Her journey has proven her strength and her tenacity like no other.  And it has shown the full force of God's amazing love, grace, and huge power to transform the most broken and the least of these.

Her father and I want you to know that our girl is so much more than a diagnosis and a list of symptoms.  She is more than the words we describe her with.  She IS special.  She is literally divine.  She is a child of the King.  She is perfectly made in His image.  And heaven aside, she is perfectly made in our hearts too.

We thank you immensely for the care and guidance you give our daughter.  We know that you have not only imparted so much knowledge and many skills to her, but have generously given your time and most importantly your care and love to our treasure.  And for that we are so very thankful.  You are another blessing to both her and us.  But there is so much more to her than what you see and what you think you know.  We will take your words and IEP suggestions in to consideration.  But we we also take our love and the proof that transformation is possible.  We will take the amazing support of our family and those that love her, and the inner core of who she is and where she has come from, and all that she has already over come in to consideration as well.  And we will consider our goals and hopes and dreams for our daughter to decide what path to follow... goals that extend far beyond an IEP.

Sincerely,
her mother.

25 comments:

  1. awe, awe, awe. It must be hard! You have such a sweet way with words. I can feel the joy you have for your little one. And that picture...oh so sweet!!

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  2. Love. Pure and simple (and at times not so simple). Wow Nancy. I'm not sure what to say, how to find the words, but I feel the need to say something.

    I agree IEPs are hard, no matter which "side of the table" you sit on. I have participated in IEPs on both sides (well, not as the parent, but as the Aunt who lived with the child, and you know I teach). I wish there was a way I could make the whole process better. I try so hard to help my parents as they begin to learn the system, I try to help them learn to advocate for their child, because let's face it, I know that I only have the privilege of teaching your child for a few short years.. You are the most important part of her team, you are with her for life. May I share this blog entry with the other members of my team? It is beautifully written.

    One of the things I have found that helps is to bring a large picture of the child, and to give them a place around our table. Especially since many of my IEPs are transition IEPs, where the receiving school really doesn't know the child. I want them to KNOW it's a child, and not a diagnosis that we are talking about. Is that enough? no. but it's a step.

    Hugs

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    1. Lisa-Marie-LOVE the suggestion of the photo! IEP meetings are jsut tough. I had been on the other side of the table too, but now being a parent, it's just very different. Very "personal" for lack of a better word. Thank you for your input as a teacher.

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    2. Of course you can share it! I'm humbled.

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  3. Well said. It's so hard to hear the things your child isn't doing. We try to focus on what she IS doing & how much she has progressed in a year.
    We just had our IEP meeting yesterday.

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  4. Oh Nancy, this post touch me in so many ways! We were on that OTHER SIDE of the IEP table and your words touched every element of my being. I had to realize thru it all, as I questioned myself about parenting, that this was NOT ABOUT ME AT ALL. It was HARD! A very HARD ROAD. With me putting SELF OUT OF THE WAY, our girl has proven most of the staff wrong and has flourished greatly!! We are so very proud of her, especially when I see her pick up a book and EXCITED TO READ!! She READS EVERYTHING she can get her hands on!! No more tears!! It just took time, patience and encouragement. When you said "SHE IS FAR MORE THAN WHAT YOU SEE AND WHAT YOU THINK YOU KNOW"...girl I wanted to jump up from my desk and shout...NANCY YOU NAILED IT!! I couldn't have said it BETTER myself!! Thank you for an excellent post!! Gonna print and save this one!!!

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    1. Having been a teacher that was in many IEP meetings, teachers just don't have the whole picture, because they can't. Nor should they. They don't have a LIFE LONG investment in that child. And often, that short-term view is exactly what needs to be said and heard by all, parents included. On the other hand, parents don't have the view point that educators have. The meeting is a coming together and that part is good. That doesn't make it any easier, but it is what it is.

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  5. This is a road I do not look forward to traveling next year. Thanks for the reminder to remember who my child is and Who gave him to us.

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  6. Both of my kids have had ieps in the past (and both were removed since we moved to Seattle, neither of which I agree with). An iep meeting brings on so much anxiety. You know your girl, you know what she needs. She's beautiful no matter what her iep says.

    And she is after all Fire Dog :)

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    1. Remind me to never move out of state! Yikes!

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  7. Beautiful, beautiful post! She is fearfully and wonderfully made a daughter of the King!

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  8. Our son is on the autism spectrum and over the years I've had the opportunity to encourage many parents in much the same way as you have here. One thing I always remind them is that the experts are experts in a field...we are the expert on our child. No one will every know them the way we do. So gather information...accept and evaluate advice...here them. But listen to what you know about your child and filter it all through that grid.
    Lovely image :-)

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    1. Amen!
      Still learning to use my filter,
      nancy

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  9. I am preparing for my second one tomorrow. I am mortified because my husband is out of town so I have to go it alone. I get too emotional. Then they all give me "that look." It is so hard to remain objective when you love the kid so much.

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    1. I asks hubs to take a couple hours off to join me this time. It was SO much better. And "the look!" Oh my! Me too. Like you're suppose to se it but not notice it.
      I mostly don't like the new folks sitting at the table that have to be filled in with the years of back story.
      I hope it goes well for you, tomorrow! maybe print this and pass out for all at the table to start with!
      nancy

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  10. What a fantastic post. I am mom to my Perfectly Made daughter from China. Your words expressed exactly how I feel about these meetings (and ours is in a few weeks). I hate the looks I get when I suggest my daughter has potential. I would also like to share your post with our team - and we will be transitioning to another district next year - good to let the new team know where I stand. Since I have been introduced to this IEP world the one thing I have not been able to understand is why these meetings are structured as they are and that there must be a way to make them both productive and more positive. I plan to read your post many times over the next few weeks so that I can play it back in my head as I sit at that dreaded table.
    That photo of Tess is amazing!

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    1. Quite happy to have you use this. Feel free to change it around in any way that works for you. So glad to have other mama's out there with me in this journey!

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  11. So obvious as to why God chose you as this precious one's Mommy!!!!! Wonderful post friend!

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  12. I can't totally relate, because I don't have an adopted child. I know your journey as a mother is much more difficult than mine, but because of that, every small step ahead is in fact a huge, sweet victory for you. Unfortunately, everyone is emphasizing the things our children don't do. I can realate just a tiny bit, because I know it is so hard to hear that your child is not "keeping up" with their peers.

    God bless your beautiful daughter! That photo of her is amazing!! <3

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  13. Brilliant Nancy - beautifully said! We've attended many over the years. And yeah - simply said - they suck.

    Might I suggest humor? It works for me - and the staff in our district (we're a "smaller" LSD). When I hear the sigh or see the look I put a card on the table - the first one says "that's 1", and of course the 2nd one says "that's 2". The 3rd one says "That Bulls*&^" - which generally gets a laugh and everyone steps down the "stress" level a little - and if gives us - the parents - the chance to remind them that we are talking about MORE than their student!

    Fortunately for us the IEP's are now more about health concerns than anything else and that helps a lot too!

    And one glance at the picture tells the world - there is absolutely nothing wrong with this child - she is - in fact - perfectly made!

    Prayers and hugs -

    aus and co.

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  14. Thank you my Dear Friend for this honest post. From my perspective, a SpEd teacher for 18 years, I agree...IEP meeting SUCK. I have no idea how to make them better. About 80% of the meetings I hold also have to have the meeting translated into Spanish. My translator is amazing. He went to NAU about 5 years after us and spent a year in Spain. His translation is great, but I am sure the parents still don't understand what we are telling them and why. I know about the 15 minute mark, for English and / or Spanish, I start sounding like the teacher from Charlie Brown..Waaa waaa, waawaaa waaa.
    Thank you, again for your amazing insight and wisdom.
    Love much
    Melissa

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  15. As a therapist who has sat in countless IEP meetings as the "professional," I will say that no amount of education or degree has educated me more than being the parent of a child with special needs. I will never ever approach an IEP meeting the same again. Put your post on facebook and let it go viral!

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  16. Nancy, I know you wrote this a few weeks back but we are in the midst of the testing now, so it's just now truly resonating with me. This square peg, round hole business is hard, hard, hard.

    There is a quote that I keep coming back to throughout this process. Maybe it will be of some help to you too.

    "The principle goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done - men who are creative, inventive and discoverers." Jean Piaget

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