When E was diagnosed on the spectrum last year, I submitted a request to school for an IEP evaluation. We were starting on medication and private therapy, but I knew we needed to get accommodations in place, as well as put in writing the accommodations he was already getting in the classroom. The meeting was a disaster. I walked out nearly in tears, frustrated and angry. We did have some “wins” in that he would get a social skills group, and we were supposed to be referred to the 504 group for follow-up. I realize we were not prepared then. We were still adjusting to our new world. Acceptance of his diagnosis would take time.
E has made so much progress in a year with the private therapy, and lots of work on his and our parts. He has started off the school year with a bang. He does have the same teacher as last year (love this woman to pieces), in the same classroom, with nine of the same classmates. He knows his teacher well, knows her expectations, knows her routine, is familiar and comfortable in this classroom. Those are the things that help keep E in a good, calm place. This won’t happen again, and he is already showing some anxiety about which teacher he will have next year. With all these things in mind, knowing he still needs help, knowing we still need to get his current accommodations in writing, and knowing the chasm between him and his peers emotionally and socially is only going to grow and become more apparent, I resubmitted a request for IEP evaluation. And then I felt like I was going to throw up.
I feel a battle ahead. Maybe it won’t come to that, but I just feel it in my bones. We have always had amazing teachers and they always put their students’ best interests first. That’s not the fight. I know his teacher has gone above and beyond to help Ethan be successful. He needs more. I know that. He has needs we haven’t even identified yet. I will not let the “team” change my mind this time. I am so nervous. And I’m terrified I’m going to break down in this meeting.
The school psych called last week – two days after I turned in the request – to let me know she had received it and when we could likely expect the initial meeting. The social worker intern called today to get some background. He met with E today to start assessing his social skills and emotional management needs. I feel like things are moving much more quickly than last year. We didn’t get any phone calls last year. We just received the notification of the meeting last year and then had the meeting. I’m praying this is a good sign. I’m praying the new principal has brought a new perspective to this whole process. (good grief – this is coming out as scattered as I feel)
My emotions have been all over the place. My brain is spinning. I have all these things I want to say to the team about Ethan. I’m preparing arguments, making notes. I will go in prepared. I will be ready to do battle if it comes to that. I owe that much to E. He deserves all the help we can get him. He deserves the chance to be successful, academically AND socially and emotionally.
Speaking of success….the issue brought up last year is that he is academically successful. Why yes, he is. He’s incredibly smart. That is completely in line with his diagnosis. I’m thrilled he’s smart, but I hate the words “academically successful” when thinking about IEP’s. There is more to a child than the grades he receives. He’s not really a disruption in the classroom, but that’s not all there is to whether a student needs help either. Sigh……see, preparing mental arguments.
I know this process is going to be long. I know I’m going to be emotional. I know it has the potential to be very draining. I wish with all my heart we didn’t even have to think about this. How I wish there were no diagnosis for him….that we weren’t in the world of autism spectrum disorders. But here we are. I am so thankful for the support system we have. I am so thankful for friends who have helped so much and provided resources, friends who are always there to listen and offer a shoulder. We’ll get there, whatever it takes. We have to.