Monday, April 20, 2009

Are You Aware? XVIII

Ah, IEP season. If you've never been through an IEP meeting, you have no clue what it is like. You can get an idea of it here and here, as well as here. Most of us would rather go to the dentist and have our wisdom teeth out without novacaine than go to an(other) IEP meeting, but you know without you in that room, your child doesn't have an advocate. And it is the attitude that would otherwise leave your child to the wolves that makes attending the meeting so painful.

Some of the challenges and responses and run-arounds to try to deny our kids their needed supports, services, and rights are so common, they become well-known jokes, t-shirt slogans, and bumper-stickers. In fact, we have a "Pop-up IEP" webpage with the common obstacles and suggested responses! How sad is that?

Folks, kids with disabilities were being so abused by our society, we had to enact laws to protect the rights they should have had simply as fellow human beings and citizens. The fact that schools and government personnel still seem to want to circumvent those laws and deny their fellow humans and citizens their rights is frustrating, aggravating, horrifying, depressing, and traumatizing. This is what special needs parents go through at least once a year; often more, because that IEP you set up in May probably needs to be revisited in September, and with us, December and March are also good times to take another good look. And every time you walk into that meeting, you are in the Danger Zone. We've been lucky these last couple of years, and our case manager has been supportive of Joey and his needs. The couple of years before that, we weren't so spoiled, but we weren't faced with the extreme horror stories we hear from other parents across the country, and when faced with what we still believe was an attempt at active sabotage, we held our dignity and got through. (The one time I didn't hold my dignity, it turned out all right- we ended up with our wonderful case manager and para).

IF you need some of those bumper stickers and t-shirts, allow me to recommend The Parent Side and my own Joeymom's Autism Awareness Bazaar. Just reading them can at least put a grin on your face after a hard IEP meeting. And after all- 'tis the season.

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