Sunday, March 14, 2010

IEPs and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

On Friday "The Skink," who attends a pre-K special ed class through our public school system, brought home a thick manila envelope. Oh yay! It's IEP time already.

Yes, the dreaded IEP. For those  of you who don't happen to have a child who requires one, an IEP is a gazillion-page book that outlines every last weakness and delay your child has, may have, or might someday develop. For every positive mile stone we special-needs moms celebrate with our children, the IEP can point out ten milestones our child has somehow side-stepped.

Of course these packets are a necessary evil. They line out to every last minute detail what the teachers need to drill our children on. One can almost imagine a WWII style German officer barking out commands to our little ones, all in the name of learning to scoop food onto a spoon. "Scoop! Now LIFT! Don't spill! Now eat! Repeat!"

Of course I'm rather certain my daughter's school does not employ retired WWII German officers, but I'm just saying...

Here are some of our current objectives:

"The Skink (nickname) will play purposefully with 3 new toys that are introduced on 3 out of 5 opportunities by 3/15/2011."
"The Skink will use a pincer grasp (thumb and index finger) to pick up 5 small objects/items off the table or floor with 3-4 verbal, visual, and/or tactile cues on 4 out of 5 opportunities by 9/26/2010.


And best yet, we get to go over all 2094 of these line items in a meeting with teachers, therapists and school officials next week! Can I just say, "whoopee?"

When you have a special needs child, you quickly come to discover that the Good Lord made that child just as perfect as can be in his or her own special, non-typical way. Instead of sitting around wishing that your beautiful child could somehow be different, we parents suddenly find our eyes are open to every small milestone... each tiny joy that we might have taken for granted with a "typical" child. Suddenly the sun shines just a little brighter, the breeze is just a little warmer, and each and every smile we get from our "special" kid seems to send angels off on a new choral adventure.

We learn to enjoy exactly what we have in our child... right up until we get that giant manila folder filled with seemingly thousands of line items specifying just how "disabled" our child is, with a note specifying we must read the ENTIRE thing very CAREFULLY.

As I read through the line items discussing my daughter's hypotonia, over-pronation and wide-set walking gate, I paused for a moment. Wasn't it just a few months ago we were rejoicing that she had taken a few steps on her own? Well - at any rate, I'll be interested to see how the teachers proposed to teach her to walk "better."

When all is said and done, I'll be just as happy with my daughter and love her just as much no matter how many line items appear on her IEP. In the greater scheme of things, it doesn't matter. If the school system wants to sit down and discuss ever last nit-picky detail of my daughter's development, and label speech at one year behind and gross motor skills as a delay of 18 months, so be it. What ever works for them. All I know is that my 3-year-old loves school, and she loves me. Good nuff!


  1. Couldn't agree with you more about the IEPs! As a special ed teacher myself, AND having two special needs kids in my brood, I hate those documents with a passion. The only thing they accomplish is to say that my child doesn't fit in with what the state and county feel is an appropriate method of educating children. The IEP tells me that my child is unique and doesn't fit into the box that the state feels they should be put into. Frankly, I am glad my kids don't fit into that box!

  2. Amen, Whitney!! Of course it's through all this documentation that our schools receive the funding necessary to provide special services for special needs. I understand this, but it sure is hard reading about every possible way my child is behind her peers - especially when she is so perfect in my eyes! And the descriptions! Where do they come up with this stuff? LOL!!

  3. Leigh - I just discovered your blog via posting of your current entry on a Facebook group (Tetrasomy 18p). I just wanted to say that I love your perspective and I have only read two entries! I am a special needs child (20 months) and two typical kids (8 & 10). Many feel like there is alot pressure to worry about the milestones (I believe they are going to get where they need to be - we just don't know when that will be) and I haven't even had to face an IEP yet! Thanks again for your spot on assessment of what it sure feels like!


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