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.