It’s today. Thomas’ very last IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting. I’ve been attending these meetings since Thomas has been receiving special education services beginning at the age of 3 years.
I remember when Thomas was 3 and touring special needs preschools with my mom and Alyssa in tow. I didn’t want to be there and was holding back tears. Things weren’t supposed to be this way. My child wasn’t supposed to need special education, I was angry at that time.
I think I remember just about every IEP meeting we’ve had. On one occasion a dear friend Diane came all the way from Long Island to attend one with me. I was fortunate in that I never really had to fight for services for Thomas. He was obviously speech impaired so there was the speech therapy and he always needed physical therapy and occupational therapy to work on deficits in other areas. It was an occupational therapist who taught Thomas how to tie his shoes. I was so happy when he mastered that.
I’ve attended most of Thomas’ IEP meetings by myself. On a few occasions I did have an advocate accompany me. That was the best because an advocate wants to get things done and knows what to ask for. Plus an advocate isn’t emotionally invested in your child; you are emotionally invested and it’s easy to lose one’s temper as I have on more than one occasion. It didn’t matter to anyone that I lost my temper on they always kept calm. It was very frustrating to get people to see your child the way you see them, as not just a number but a real person. My advocate at the time told me to request independent neuropsychological testing. How was I supposed to know that you could ask for that? It’s a shame that most things you can request the district pay for are well kept secrets. I encourage anyone who has a child with an IEP to try and get an adovacate to accompany them to the meetings.
So the meeting happened and now it’s over. It was certainly anticlimactic in my opinion. I don’t know what I expected, there isn’t anymore drama or arguing. He’s graduating on the 22nd and is eligible for the summer session. After that it’s over. The board of education will no longer be responsible for educating my son.
In the meantime we’re still waiting for the State to move on getting Thomas into his group home. Thomas had been very patient in his wait. He’s ready to move into the group home and move on to the next thing in his life. He surprises me sometimes; my Thomas.