Dear IEP Team,
We’re here to discuss my daughter today. We are grateful for the wisdom and expertise that you bring to the table. We realize that you know your jobs and you are well versed in them. You possess years of experience and advanced college degrees. Your names have distinguished titles following them. However, please remember…as you sit on the complete opposite side of this table from us, her Daddy and I are the unequivocal experts on HER.
You know our child on paper; you appreciate the numerical data reported from her evaluations. Some of you know her as a person, as you spend hours teaching her, interacting with her, and providing therapy services to her. You have extensive knowledge in the field of Special Education. We, her parents, have twelve years of comprehensive experience with this individual human being. While we respect each of your roles, there’s something we really wish you knew.
If you sat on our side of the table, you’d see this IEP meeting through a completely different set of eyes.
You recognize that she is twelve years old and you’ve reminded us, time and again, that she is many years behind her same-aged peers. But, did you know that her birth was a miracle and that she has overcome tremendous, countless obstacles in her life? Can you fathom the strength that she has shown against adversity?
You understand that because of her cognitive delays and orthopedic impairments, legally, you must make many accommodations for her. You surely feel that we ask you for A LOT, and we know that we can seem pushy and hard to please. Do you personally know what it’s like to have a child who depends on you to fight desperately for her? For ALL her needs to be met?
We are advocating for needs that parents of typically developing children couldn’t begin to comprehend.
Do you realize how wonderful she is, and how she spreads joy to all who meet her? Can you see that she is worth every single service and support that we ask for? We hope that you do. She’s truly worth them all, and so much more.
Do you ever wonder how the words you deliver to us in this IEP meeting can sting?Or consider how crushing it is for us to listen to all the ways our child falls short? We know that it’s your duty to relay the cold statistics to us. You share with the group that she cognitively functions on the level of a toddler.
Can you see the tears we’re fighting back? We hope you view us with some compassion. She is our world, and we love her more than you can imagine. We are well aware of all these facts that are neatly typed up in detail, but it still hurts to have to digest them all over again.
Thank you to the team members who are very familiar with her for making us smile.
You help us swallow the lumps in our throats by sharing all the AMAZING things she CAN do. You make sure to tell the whole team about her abilities. You love telling the group how much she loves Taylor Swift and how well she responds to music. Your eyes light up when you contribute that she is very sociable and happy. We know all these incredible things too, and we truly appreciate you noticing.
IEP Team, after this meeting ends, we’re going to continue pushing, requesting, and fighting for all the things our child needs to be successful; everything she needs to THRIVE. We will be diplomatic. We will never back down. Please don’t think that we’re trying to do your job; we’re merely doing OUR job. Our job is to be the very best parents for her and to give her a voice. Please know that we will strive to work WITH you to make school a safe, happy and wonderful place for her.
We know in our hearts that you would gain a whole new perspective, and that you’d do the very same, if you sat on our side of the table.