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To the Kids Who Had an IEP This School Year

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As the school year comes to an end, I’d like to give a big shout out to all the kids who had an IEP and made it through the year!

Here’s the thing. There probably will not be an award ceremony for some of the things you have accomplished. Your milestones perhaps aren’t recognized as “achievements” in the mainstream classroom.

But I am here to tell you:

Meeting IEP goals can be more remarkable than any certificate or plaque could convey.

Whether it was learning to advocate for yourself or exiting your comfort zone — I salute you. Not everyone understands how challenging your school day can be. I applaud you for making it through bravely, doing the best you can.

I acknowledge you for showing up — even when it was hard. And maybe you aren’t eligible for the “perfect attendance” award because there was the time you had surgery, had to visit specialists or other reasons out of your control. But, attendance is much more than simply being behind a school desk every day. What matters most is what you do with the time you are present.

Sometimes you have to work harder than a “typical” classmate, but you don’t use it as an excuse. You keep trying, without complaining, never feeling sorry for yourself.

You figure out how to manage and adapt. You remain determined.

The goals woven into your day can be exhausting and tedious. But you don’t give up. Because every day you work toward meeting them — both big and small — you are becoming better and stronger. There aren’t many school awards for things like resilience and tenacity.

So when an IEP goal is marked as “achieved,” you should feel proud you have exemplified those qualities that will take you far in school, and more importantly, in life.

I hope you know your advocates and champions are thrilled for you. We know the things often invisible that require hard work and effort cannot always be measured, yet they are still worthy of a standing ovation.

A version of this story originally appeared on My Battle Call by Valli Gideons

Originally published: May 31, 2019
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