The Ominous IEP Meeting

The Ominous IEP Meeting

Since my son was diagnosed with ADHD years ago, I’ve attended a handful of IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meetings. They usually involve the school principal, the special education teacher, the general education teacher, sometimes the school psychologist and always me. You walk into a room full of people you may or may not know that well to discuss why your child needs special help at school and what classroom accommodations should follow.

In the past, my son’s general education teachers have always been the ones who’ve made me cry. They see my son in a different light and they don’t understand him the way I do.

While we start the meeting discussing his strengths, the bulk of the hour consists of addressing a rap sheet of offenses committed by my son which ultimately inconvenienced the teacher. Your son does X, Y and Z so he needs this, this and this. It can feel like a parenting lecture, even thought it isn’t meant to be that way.

Admittedly, I can be a sensitive person and I’ve learned over the years this is not a weakness. God made us all unique according to his plan. So you can call yourself an introvert or an extrovert to help make it easier for others to understand you, but is it really necessary?

The days leading up to an IEP meeting tend to conjure the ominous dark cloud above me. There’s a tangible FEAR of the conversation to be had and the FEAR of a misunderstanding.

Today I put on a brave face and consorted with the team of educators at my son’s new school. I only teared up once, when the subject of past meetings were on the table. But they offered helpful suggestions and had me laughing afterwards. I loved that the principal lightened the mood when he asked in a serious voice, “I sometimes wonder what psychological testing would say about me if I had it done?”

In a nutshell, they get us. They get my son. I am starting to change my mindset about the whole IEP thing.

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2 thoughts on “The Ominous IEP Meeting

  1. You should feel great about all the effort you are putting into your son’s improvement and quality of life. You are doing everything you can with the tools you are given and are striving to improve which will take everyday of your life. However with hard work comes great reward. I was diagnosed with add at age 38. As a child my parents did nothing to help other than getting whipped by a leather belt and thrown into a church pew. I battled all addictions and forms of mental health issues such as anxiety anger and depression. On my medications I can now focus and better educate myself toward life long improvement. I am a married father of 3 boys aged 1 to 5. As I am aware add has genetic predisposition I realize it is possible one of my own may have add. I am always looking for ways to detect red flags and symptoms in my children while I need to work on my own issues. Anyway. I admire your courage in coming forward and helping other like me fully understand this condition from every angle.
    Thanks and keep up the positive work.

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    1. Thank you for sharing Neil, and for the encouraging words. I’m sorry you’ve had to experience the things you have in your life. It makes my heart hurt when I hear of physical abuse, especially when innocent children who have no control over the genetics that cause them to act a certain way are the victims. For so long, people have labeled kids with the disorder as “bad” or “misbehaved” kids or they’ve pointed fingers at the parents and said it’s a result of bad parenting. Now they’re publishing studies (just last month) that show ADHD is the result of a structurally-diverse brain. ADHD is a very misunderstood disorder as you know and I wish so badly that everyone would be more Christlike and loving towards the people who struggle in life. I’ve seen first-hand what it can do to a person’s self-esteem and that’s what scares me the most about it. I fear that my son will struggle with depression later in life as an adult. I want to be there for him always, and I will try to do my best. That is so great that you are taking steps to manage your ADHD. There are so many resources available now to help those with ADHD succeed. The fact that you are aware of the diagnosis and doing things to improve your family’s quality of life is evidence that you’re a caring and wonderful father!

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