Saturday, May 23, 2009

Packing, Planning and Parades--One Writer's Life

You'd think the process of planning for next school year would be routine by now. After all, our two younger girls have had IEPs for years. How hard can it be?

Well, this year is different. Both girls are in different places educationally. S is entering her 8th grade year. E is finishing up as a sophomore and looking forward to post secondary life. And P & I are in a different place, too. This year, for the first time in what feels like forever, E has been healthy enough (knock on wood) that I've been able to drop out of emergency mode long enough to really study the IEPs.

What I found saddened me. All these years, I'd assumed we'd been effective advocates for our girls. Yet, after studying the small print, I realized we have A LOT more to learn.

I cried after I discovered this. I cried for E and S and the fact that they need IEPs in the first place. I cried for S whose voice went unheard for years because we didn't know we could ask for an assistive technology evaluation and the school didn't offer one. I cried for E and all she's been through with her aneurysm rupture, surgeries, and frequent illnesses, and the fact that she deserves more. I cried for what we didn't know and the fact that we could-have should-have known more. I cried for that and more, and then I found a way to turn my emotions into advocacy.

Both girls deserve results-driven, transparent, accountable educational plans. P and I are working hard to achieve this. Getting there will be a process, but we're talking about our children's further education, independence and employment. The stakes are too high for us not to be committed to this process for the long haul.

On tap for the next few days:

Today--IEP review and goal re-visioning in preparation for Tuesday's meeting, planning for next week's trip out East for doctors' visits, and, then, if time allows, head out to the local Pet Expo.
Tomorrow--Sunday school, church, more trip planning, and more IEP preparation.
Monday--Parade and picnic with long-time friends, and packing.
Tuesday--IEP meeting and packing.
Wednesday--E and I leave for Delaware where E will spend the rest of the week meeting with specialists in primordial dwarfism.

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