To My Child's IEP Case Manager
To My Son’s IEP Case Manager:
I want you to know I have always been extremely grateful to be raising a child with special needs in a society where Early Intervention, IEPs and Child Study Teams exist.
I want you to know that while I obviously am a nervous wreck about sending my child off to school, I was actually looking forward to the IEP process and coming up with a plan that would meet my son’s needs and help him to succeed.
I want you to know this process is an emotional one for us. It’s hard for any parent to send your child off to strangers, but my child can’t talk, so I worry he won’t be able to tell me if something bad happens at school, and my child can’t walk, so I worry about how much he will rely on others to make it through his day. So that worry that all parents feel, it’s multiplied.
I want you to know this little boy’s life has not been typical…
On the second day of his life, he was taken from his mommy in an ambulance to CHOP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) where he would spend the night without her. (See, I’d just had a c-section, so I would not be allowed to leave my own hospital until the following day.)
He would spend almost two weeks there at CHOP, working his little butt off, trying to learn something most babies do as naturally as crying or breathing: learning to eat.
This little boy would begin receiving Early Intervention at three months old and would work hard to do every single thing that many of us do and take for granted.
I want you to know this is why I believe he “deserves” the best education possible. And while you sigh and roll your eyes when I say that, I want you to think about your own children and how you might feel if they had to travel the road my son has.
And when you tell me you do not “have to” give my son “the best” education, that you only “have to” give him an “appropriate education,” I want you to think of your own child and how you would feel if you walked into their classroom at Back to School Night and their teacher stood up to tell you that, just so you know, she doesn’t have to give your child the best that year, merely what’s appropriate.
And when I tell you the reasons why my son needs more than you are offering him, I would appreciate it if you could tweak or defend what you have set up instead of stating that you “don’t need to.”
I want you to know that you have almost made me lose complete faith in Special Education in public schools, something that I thought was such a beautiful thing. I say “almost” because I know a great deal of amazing people who work in Special Education and they are nothing like you, so I will not lose faith in them. I say “almost” because I work in a school and I have worked with the CST (Child Study Team) in my school, and they would never behave the way you have or word things the way that you chose to; they care about our students.
You have made me realize how naive I was to think that you had my child’s best interests at heart. Part of our job as people in the education system is to care. Somehow too many of us are losing sight of that. I think you are one of those people.
I want you to know I am not as upset about how you have made us feel as I am that this is possibly how you go about every meeting you run. Maybe this was a bad month for you. I pray it was possibly because I myself am an educator, so maybe you felt you had something to prove. I don’t care about how you have treated us because we can handle you. We have the resources and the support system to do whatever we need to do for our son, but not every family does, and that is my biggest worry.
I hope you are able to change and take a bit more care when dealing with the families you deal with. Keep in mind that their road as parents has been a bit rockier than your own might have been.
Keep in mind that the worry they feel for their children may seem a bit excessive because their children are a bit more dependent on others than your typical child.
Keep in mind that all of these families matter. From the families who worry about if their child is reading or writing on grade level, to the families like mine, who worry if their children will ever be able to run into their arms, and if they will ever hear the words “I love you” come from their lips.
I hope you can learn to handle all of these families you work with with more care. I pray for that. I believe that is the most important part of your job. Not your job as an employee of the school district, but your job as a human being.
Thank you for your time.
A Parent Who Loves Her Child
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