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Monday, September 23, 2013

Not our first rodeo...the dreaded IEP meeting




We walked into the school like every other day of every other scheduled IEP meeting. This was not our first rodeo, so the nerves were not as heightened.  We have been dealing with these deflating meetings for 7 years now, so we were more than ready to take on whatever was thrown at us.

Thousands of thoughts run through my mind every year before these meetings take place. I have flashbacks of when Hunter was 5 and was diagnosed with Aspergers and ADHD. The feelings of disbelief and fear still seem very fresh.  However, experience has also brought a feeling of confidence. Now, I walk into these meetings ready to fight for my kid. I show respect to these wonderful people who have chosen this honorable profession. I truly listen to what they have to say and believe that they want the best for him. I also know that no one knows him better than me. I am his advocate. He is my heart. I am his mom, and I owe him the best I can give him.

I have learned through the years that every stage of his growth will bring new challenges and these meetings usually bring them to the forefront. They have historically been the constant, never ending conversations of everything that is wrong with our son. His handwriting is bad; his attitude is bad; he lies constantly; he talks in class; he doesn't respect authority...you name it, we've heard it.

When I walked into the meeting this time, something seemed different. The teachers were all smiling. The meeting began with his resource teacher talking about what a wonderful child Hunter is and how pleasant he is every day. What? Who?

Next, the English teacher told us how sweet he has been to her, and that his handwriting had been a concern, but now he was using the computer and it was working out great!

By now, I felt like I must have been dreaming. His history teacher began by saying that Hunter is so intelligent and is actually asking questions at a collegiate level. He gave us ideas of books Hunter should read, and told us to feed this knowledge. I felt pride in my heart.

His Science teacher began by saying what a pleasure Hunter is and said he is doing great. I smiled and must have had a look of relief on my face because then she said, "Maturity is a wonderful thing," and she smiled at me in a very knowing way.

His speech teacher said he is doing great. His psychologist said he is way ahead of his goals. All of the teachers said he speaks at appropriate times during class. He participates in class. Suddenly, the meeting was over. That was it!

As we walked out my husband looked at me and said, "What the hell just happened?" I smiled and said, " I was just thinking the same thing!"

Don't get me wrong, I know this is not the end of the battle. This weekend alone had enough challenges for 10 families, but there is progress. Seven years ago, we couldn't see any hope. There was just that stifling, unknown feeling. There was no knowledge or experience. Now, things are different! There is still fear. There is still frustration.  There is still so much unknown, but there are bright moments that give us hope that next year might be even better yet!

This wasn't our first rodeo, it won't be our last, but it was our best by far!