Preparing for your child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) can be emotionally draining for parents. I know this firsthand because my youngest daughter has Down Syndrome, Diabetes, and Celiac Disease. Not only were we advocating for educational goals, she also required having a health plan.
Tessa graduated in 2013 and had at least 2 IEP’s every year. So basically, I attended a minimum of 20 IEP’s over the course of her education. Sometimes things went smoothly. Other times it was a challenge. I wrote this poem right after I attended one of her IEP’s. This one was challenging, and I left exhausted. Sometimes it can be very isolating. If you are a parent of a child with special needs, you will relate to this poem. If you are an educator, you will get a glimpse into our lives as a family member. My hope is that by sharing this glimpse into our lives, others will understand that families and educators need to work together as a team for the benefit of the child.
As an educator, I watched many parents become frustrated with a process that made them feel helpless, and I witnessed many educators who were not properly supported. It takes a lot of courage and strength to sit through an IEP as a family member. I had years where we had the “DREAM TEAM.” In fact, my daughter and family were blessed to have a “DREAM TEAM” for many years. I still thank them to this day for making me feel like a valued part of that team. If you are a parent feeling helpless, turn to a friend or an advocate to help you navigate the system. Sometimes you need someone to be your voice. Children win when their families continue to attend and participate as equal members in the IEP process. Never feel so defeated that you no longer attend. You are your child’s best advocate.
To the wonderful, caring educators out there. We appreciate you! We value you! We realize your job can be exhausting, frustrating, and challenging. We know you need more support. We love you to the moon and back for caring so much about our children. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
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