Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Parent Role at an IEP meeting

As I send off my latest request for an IEP meeting, I just had a very sad thought.

Being a parent at an IEP meeting is kind of like being a passesnger on a plane. You are part of the team inteded to result in a pleasant flight, by making sure everything is groovy, and stays groovy, from teh time you get on to the time you get off. Included in this team are the pilots, the attendants, the mechanical crews, the air trafic crontrol folks... you get the idea.

Normal, reasonable people know that when come onto the plane, you make sure your luggage fits in the overhead bins or under teh seat in front of you. If you need a seatbelt extender, you request one. You stay seated when the stay seated light is on. You ake sure smoking is not done in the bathrooms, your food and beverage choices are made reasonably, and thus the flight goes smoothly. You need to have a general idea of how the emergency exits work in case there is a problem.

However, on an IEP Flight, you as the passenger are also expected to understand how to fly the plane, serve the other passengers, and have full knowledge of how to maintain and even fix mechanical and other problems mid-flight. If an engine falls off, you're expected to know how to safely land the plane, re-attach the engine, and get the whole mess back in the air. The pilot won't set course or work the instruments unless you spefically request that s/he do so, and then often says they don't have the resources for working the controls anyway, and besides, do you really NEED to work all those buttons, levers, and gauges? Can't you see fron the windshield where you are going? When you go to find resources to help, you find a flight simulator; but you soon find it is either for an outdated cockpit, a simplified cockpit, or when you go to actually request the controls be worked properly, you are told that you just had simulator training, the pilot has had real flight time! So you try to sign up for flying lessons. Now you're told that you're still just an amateur. But they still won't work the controls unless you specifically ask them to do so, and say exactly what to do nd exactly when.

Oh, and your flight is already departing from the gate. And if you dont do all of this correctly, of course you will crash. Oh well, sucks to be you.


Club 166 said...

I laughed at this. But then I realized that your analogy wasn't quite right.

The rest of the crew on a plane are personally invested in a successful result. If the plane crashes, they're not in a very good spot, either.

Perhaps a more apt analogy is a construction crew building you a house. You only get one chance to build it.

You are given stucco to build with, but you are forced to work with a crew who usually builds wood houses (all the wood houses look the same, but they are good, sturdy houses). You pay the crew, but can't fire them. And they know that they are smarter at building houses than you are.

The crew knows all about building these wood houses, and insist that if you use big enough nails, you can nail the stucco together and build with it.

You protest that stucco needs different techniques to build a house, but that you can still get a perfectly acceptable house by building with stucco. In some ways, it's even better than wood.

So the building crew meets with you again, and brings in their expert who has read books about stucco, but not actually built anything with it. Although the contract that the construction crew is working under says that they have to build all the houses in your neighborhood, they are upset with you for building with stucco. Why can't you just supply wood, like the rest of the community? You're wasting their time and the community's money, they say.

Like the construction crew, you have never built anything with stucco before. But you have talked to people who have successfully built and lived in stucco houses. You don't know all of the terminology that the building crew expert does, but besides talking to people who already have built and lived in stucco houses, you've done a little experimenting building a stucco shed in the back yard.

You suggest building stucco bricks, and experimenting with different baking times to see what works best. The rest of the construction crew wants to pour stucco into molds that look like 1x8 boards, so that you can build a house that looks like a wooden house. They don't want your stucco house to look any different than their wooden ones.

If you mess this building up, you have to live in it. But the building crew gets to move on, and blame any failures on the fact that you didn't have the right materials to build a house to begin with. Then they go down the street and try to get the person who has cement to work with build a house that looks like a wooden house.

And so it goes.

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