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A Letter to My Children’s IEP

Hi there! It’s me again. Once again it’s January, and in a few days, we will be meeting along with several others. They call us a team. Your drafts have already been sent home for my review. My notes and questions have been made.

In a few days, a copy of your more-than-25 pages will be passed out to each member of the team. We will start by introducing ourselves, and then the real fun begins. Over the course of two hours (sometimes longer), we will discuss my parent concerns and then your present levels of functioning. We will discuss your goal data and determine whether the goals written on your precious pages have been met. If your goals haven’t been met, we will discuss the possible causes, brainstorm solutions and reword the goal until the verbiage is intricately precise, all in hope of giving my son and daughter the best chance possible to achieve academic success. We will then discuss and determine each of their classroom accommodations:

“Will a 4×6 or a 3×5 index card be allowed to be brought to class to remember math and science formulas?” Yes, your words are that specific.

You state that you do not allow double-sided worksheets/articles to be given to my son or daughter because flipping back and forth is too distracting.

You make it clear that study guides are to be given no less than four days in advance.

You state that tests are to be read to my children, there are to be no true/false questions and they are to get the double allotment of time to take assessments, because their processing disorders make all of the above challenging.

I won’t bore you with the many other speech, occupational therapy and social work accommodations you hold. You know exactly what it says.

We both know an enormous amount of time is dedicated to combing through your words, because, as nit-picky as it may seem, these important details help ensure that my children achieve academic success. A few more loose ends are tied up. And if everything goes well and everyone is in agreement, signatures are obtained and your new pages are ready to be followed. That’s in a perfect world.

Now don’t get me wrong: Most of the team takes you back and painstakingly begins to implement your every word immediately. But there always seems to be that one team member — the one who thinks it isn’t their job, but someone else’s, to read you or even acknowledge you. The one who thinks they don’t have time for you. The one who takes your precious pages and tosses you aside or throws you in a drawer. It’s funny how that one team member is always the first to roll their eyes at my children and get frustrated when they aren’t understanding or performing. And they are always the first to call and tell me. It has to be an awful feeling to be abandoned like that after the entire team worked so hard to create your pages. If only your words were read. If only you were heard.

Honestly, as much as I truly love and appreciate you, I wish you were not such an enormous part of my life. Oh, how I wish I could send my children to school and go about my day without you being on my mind, every hour, heck, every minute for that matter. How I wish I did not have to use up precious vacation time to meet with the team or field phone calls and emails. I mean, a beach and an umbrella drink sounds so much better than a board room; if given the choice, I think you would much rather still be a tree.

And then there’s my reputation that you have indirectly helped me to achieve. I know I am “That Mom.” I know I have been called a b*tch. I also have heard through the grapevine that I am a “piece of work.” That’s been my favorite phrase to date. But no worries — as the old “sticks and stones” adage goes, names will not hurt me. You and I both know my children are entitled by law to receive a free and appropriate education, so therefore, you are the law. You are to be followed. I guess together we will have to continue to be that reminder. If only we were all a part of the team.

So, in a few days, the team will be gathering to pour over your precious pages. We will review you, discuss you, dissect you and sign you. I just sincerely hope that this year everyone spends time with you and really gets to know you. Because after being a part of an IEP team for 13 years, I know you truly do have a lot to say. You really do know how to make the lives of all those involved a whole lot easier. You just need to be heard.

The Mighty is asking its readers the following: If you could write a letter to the disability or disease you (or a loved one) face, what would you say to it? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.