How to Make Your IEP Easier to Swallow
by Lori Miller Fox
A Little IEP Humor....
There is definitely a season for IEPs. A time of year when stress is in the air, and feelings of panic
and antagonism abound. Parents scurry busily about, preparing for the big day circled
on their calendars. And let's not forget, that list of school people who are naughty and nice.
And like so many other longstanding, if you can remain standing, traditions; year after year you reunite
with many of the same familiar faces, catching up on the events of the year. Some will even tell you how adorable your child is, and how much he or she has grown.
There are a lot of people sitting around a large table who would rather not be there,
initially forcing themselves to exchange “pleasantries” until someone says something
totally ignorant or offensive and the shouting begins. Just like any other typical
American holiday dinner; only here we're not all related by blood or marriage.
So I’d like to propose a new Hallmark holiday for the IEP season. The biggest problem,
as I see it though, is that unfortunately, there is no cook book for this time of year.
If only Julia Child were here. Lucky for us though, her lesser-known fictional sister,
Julia Specialneedschild offers a long list of IEP “party” recipes. Here are just a few of my favorites.
A gracious host always starts out by giving guests something to chew on before an IEP meeting.
Here’s a tasty snack to get the meeting going. Parents just love these before-IEP snacks because it
keeps school people's mouths busy so parents can get a word in edgewise.
Take copies of IDEIA
A copy of No Child Left Behind - but be sure to cut around the rotten parts
Add current regulations
Serve as cold facts. Spoon feed if necessary.
Here’s another snack that is tasty, but is sometimes hard for school people to swallow.
Take ‘em Down a Nachos
Take years of parental experience
Add pages of private therapists’ reports
Throw expert opinions on top
Don’t forget to fold in the negative-thinking school people’s words, so when your
child succeeds, they can eat them.
Heat things up with a hearty soup. This one’s perfect for the narrow-minded
case manager or Special Education Director. Serves the relevant number of school people who need it.
Take a handful of children with special needs
Throw them in a self-contained classroom
Be sure not to include proper programming
Wait until the end of the term, try to mix them
Discard untouched portion.
Next, a light appetizer does wonders for a heavy heart.
Full of Crepes
Take your child’s entire curriculum and leave it flat
Fill it with music, coloring, clapping, and other growth-stiffling activities
with no academic content that take up the school day.
Combine some school personnel’s ideas for your child’s future- leave them half-baked.
For your main course, make something easy that doesn’t require much effort;
like the courses your child is taking at school. For example, a tray of
Wag Your Finger
Sandwiches would do nicely. Here are some popular choices.
Examine the team’s so-called “qualifications” and see if
Pile on the bologna
Spread related services very thin.
Take the school team’s compliments with a grain of salt
And put it all between two slices of your child’s life.
Panini Meenie Minie Moe
Put down a prewritten goal from one child
Layer another prewritten goal from a different child
Pile on another prewritten goal from yet another child.
Be sure to leave out any modifications or adaptations t
hat would make it individualized or appropriate
Serve it as your child’s IEP.
Hitting Below the BLT
Discuss and agree on all ingredients before preparation
Pretend to start with appropriate placement
Add necessary adaptations, required modifications,
needed service minutes, and equipment.
Freely make substitutions.
Stuff with manufactured data and artificial test results
Leave out honesty and trust
Make it into a totally different sandwich, until it becomes a meal
to which your child is academically, socially and emotionally allergic.
Kick Their Butt Steak
Pull apart the meat of the school’s arguments.
Present raw data
Be tough with rare exception
Cut yourself some slack.
And always, always bite off more than you originally thought you could chew.
Your Child’s Hero
Take big hunks of belief in your child.
Add his or her dreams.
Spread encouragement and support.
Marinate in love.
And most importantly, share it with your child.
After the meal, it's appropriate to offer your guests something to drink.
And coffee drinks are an excellent choice. This one's ideal for the teacher
who says "I wasn't trained for this."
Cafe au Lazy
Take a general education teacher
Add a child with special needs
Put them together in the same classroom
Stir up trouble
And wait until you see steam
Don’t forget the foam, from angry parents’ mouths.
Dessert is always a must. This one's a favorite of any parent who advocates for their child.
One Tough Cookie
Shred a huge stack of unmet IEP goals
Crush a large pile of parents’ dreams
Sprinkle in what's left of your child’s confidence--but make sure you really shake it up first
Finally, add the most important ingredient -- a well-prepared special education attorney.
Put it all together
And turn up the heat
Wait for expectations to rise.