I hate/heart meetings
Aidan had his transition IEP meeting last week which means his present team got to talk to the team that will be working with him in his new school this fall. IEP meetings generally make me feel like this:
No matter how many good meetings I have, which I’ve had many in the past few years, they always feel like a surprise. It’s a bit ridiculous, but I feel like the culture of special education is set up as “us” vs “them.”
Here are five specific reasons it was a good meeting:
1. There was very clear communication. The special education director specifically made sure the new IEP reflected exactly what Aidan needs. For example, because he has seizures Aidan needs an aide on the bus and he currently has one. It was verbalized, agreed on, and written down to make sure that service will continue. We also catalogued every piece of equipment that will follow him to the new school. This kid doesn’t travel light.
2. They take his motivation seriously and even put their money where their mouth is. Aidan sits on a scooter board and works his trunk muscles and arms muscles really well. He also signs “more.” It’s the one sign he has and he only uses it in this scenario. This is a highly motivating task for a kid who doesn’t care much about anything other than moving. Since he’s gotten too big for the regular scooter boards, the PT requested a new bigger one. Aidan’s getting it because it’s so important. Several IEP goals will be met and Aidan will have a blast.
3. I didn’t have to blab on and on about how I feel about inclusion because his current team mentioned it several times. Research says it benefits everyone and Aidan learns well with his peers. It was a difficult road in the beginning to get everyone on board with this concept but not anymore. His general education teacher gave several specific examples of how the entire classroom benefits with Aidan there. We got to talk about what general education teachers and classes would be a good fit for Aidan next year. It’s especially wonderful that this message came from the “professionals” because it takes away the weirdness that this is just something emotional that I want.
3. Aidan’s strengths were celebrated. Let’s face it; the entire meeting is based on disability and what Aidan needs to succeed because he has so many deficits. It can be a total downer. It is NEVER ok to go through an IEP meeting without talking about a student’s strengths, not ever. And here was a shining moment – the OT that will be working with him in the fall has worked with him during summer school. She said she has been waiting years for Aidan to be hers…. she’s joyfully anticipating working with him full time! How awesome is that?
4. Ok, so this point is sort of about marriage. All things Aidan-care related can be emotional. This meeting held a lot of anxiety for me because Aidan has a great team now and change is hard. Logistically speaking, I attend the meetings because I have a flexible work schedule. Let’s just say Garreth and I didn’t bring our best selves to the planning of this meeting. One of us may have shot off a hurt/angry/snarky email to the other. (I’m not telling who but it wasn’t the one who watched his kid drive into a door). Garreth showed up to the meeting because he knew I needed to be reminded that we’re on the same team.
And because it’s Teacher Appreciation Week I send out a HUGE thank-you to his team and this great message from Jen Hatmaker.