We had the meeting for Little N's second Individualized Education Program (IEP) this week. We met with his teachers, an aide, and the school's Occupational Therapist and Speech Therapist. I was nervous, anticipating judgment, like they would tell us that we weren't doing good enough with North. L was excited and looking forward to it, like they would tell us how great Little N is doing. (We certainly think that he's great!)
These can be delicate meetings. Parents see and know a child differently than teachers and therapists do. For example, parents might want a child mainstreamed in a classroom with typically developing children and the school may plan to place the child in a special education class. There's a lot of opportunity for strong emotions, conflict, and difficult conversations. The bottom line for most parents working with an IEP is to not sign anything that they don't wholeheartedly agree with.
We've been very fortunate with both of our IEPs. When we look at Little N's school skills we're all seeing the same strengths and challenges. The IEP and discussing it with the team, gave us some new things to work on at home. Some things are easier to practice than others. Counting, coloring, and coloring with scissors are concrete activities that we can include in our play. Social skills and teaching Little N how to manage his anxiety around groups of active, unpredictable children may be more a matter of time and gentle exposure or opportunities. Similarly when we think about softening his fixation on particular routines to cultivate greater flexibility and a more adaptive person.
Overall, I am pleased, impressed, and so grateful for Little N's team at the school. They see, care about, respect, and enjoy him. I trust their advice and I'm glad to have clear recommendations for what we're all working on with him in preparation for his next steps in learning and playing.
Turns out, I didn't have anything to be nervous about.