Here’s a picture of my Lil’Harry Potter in his classroom 5 years ago. It’s one of my favorites! That engaging smile, always eating , and cute buzz cut gets me every time! Brian has had quite the colorful educational career with its twists and turns, great teachers and not so good teachers, like most special needs students. The initially dreaded IEP meeting has now become more of a collaborative experience in order to make sure Brian gets the resources that he needs to be the most successful. This was not always the case, especially in the early years when we were still grieving and processing Brian’s additional diagnosis of autism at 2 plus years old and all that comes with it. Those initial meetings felt intimidating and were not always in Brian’s best interests. Advocacy was born through a baptism of fire. Time and experience have helped us to more effectively communicate our son’s needs and to set the tone that we truly know Brian better than anyone else and always did!
Now the actual IEP document itself…well, that emotes a different response entirely, especially in the privacy of our home office, as I carefully read and ponder its meaning. The most recent one just came in the mail yesterday and I am still reading it, thinking it through. There’s a lot of effort that goes into the IEP, so many goals, so little time, and from my vantage point, not a lot of mastery of them. Brian’s skill sets are mostly “emerging”, “progressing”, but few are mastered overall. I think the goals are
appropriate, after all, I am part of the IEP Team that decided they should be included in the first place. And Brian’s current school staff are doing a great job and the best that they can to help Brian learn. So what’s happening then? One theory I have is that Brian is too cool for school. I really think that he chooses not to always show what he knows, just because, you know, he’s cool! I believe this theory because Brian does have very strong receptive language skills, will absolutely attend to something when he is motivated, and will communicate on his I-pad directly whenever he feels it’s a benefit to him. We see this all the time at home! This is not to minimize Brian’s multiple challenges and how they have a major impact on his learning, which they most certainly do. Work avoidance and a lack of motivation are areas that Brian struggles with, further compounded by puberty. We have learned over this past year not to underestimate the power of testosterone and all that comes with it, including an attitude and unwillingness to cooperate and do what is necessary.
Thank goodness for behavior plans, motivators, and the wonderful people who implement them, such as the school staff and Brian’s home therapists. I call them God’s Chosen People, and they really are, as it takes very special folks to do this type of work. They have also saved my sanity on certain days, especially when Chardonnay was not an option, lol! I But seriously, they are the most essential members of Team Brian and we would be at such a loss without them.
There always is and always will be the annual sadness that comes with reading the IEP document. It is part of the special needs journey that is inescapable , but it by no means defines who our child is or who we are as loving parents. It just reminds us that we are human, love our kids, and only want the best for them. We appreciate progress, one step at a time, and continue to learn to cut ourselves and our kids a lot of slack, by having very flexible expectations. It’s one of the most valuable lessons I have learned from my Precious Marvel. And you can never be too cool for school, just ask Brian! 🙂
Have a great weekend, Everyone, until next time…..