It’s IEP time of year. For the uninitiated that is “Individual Education Plan” where the teacher and support staff along with input from parents come up with goals and accommodations so that the student can meet those goals. We are having a meeting on Monday with the Autism team, classroom teacher and Principal to discuss the IEP implementation, progress and plans to move Johnny forward.
We learned a lot from the process last year and have done more research in order to try and advocate better for Johnny and make sure he is getting all the services he needs and in a timely manner. We have gone to a seminars to learn about how the system works and we have asked friends who are involved n early child education for any advice and tips. I think as a parent when its your first year you find yourself a bit intimidated by the process and in all honesty grateful that your child made it into a regular classroom with support.
One of my friends gave me some amazing advice that really clarified things for me.
Better Communication leads to….
Better Peer Interaction which leads to…
Better Self Esteem which leads to….
Better Risk Taker.
If we want Johnny to keep moving towards being an independent individual we need to help him become a risk taker.
Its not easy to speak up amongst 23 other children and have your voice heard when you know that the words might not sound right. It’s not easy to raise your hand and share your thoughts when putting all those words together in sentence in front of everyone is a new experience for you. It’s not easy to appear to be attending all the time when you see and hear every single thing in the classroom and outside the classroom. Its not easy learning to read when you are still learning how to speak. It’s not easy when you want to play with your friends but are not sure how to initiate play.
Johnny is taking a risk every single day he’s at school when he’s integrated with typical children. What do they say to him when they are all playing together? Do they have patience with him?
Are we suppose to be more concerned about having Johnny be more independent in the classroom (less EA support) or are we concerned that he understands how to use his Communication PECs book and can use it to advocate for himself when the words fails him? Are we concerned about Johnny’s ability to self-regulate or are we more concerned that he appears to be okay, happy and listening?
I want to thank my friend for sharing this advice because whenever I think about services for Johnny I remember this advice and it makes sense for me. The once shy little girl who hid behind her father’s legs and peaked out is now a risk taker. We know what Johnny is capable of and on Monday morning its our job as his parents to make sure that everyone else does too.