All posts tagged IEP

Like Sands Through The Hourglass…

Published May 16, 2018 by sarcasmica

So are the days with our kids.

That’s what everyone likes to say. Hell, I say it to new moms. It’s unavoidable and it’s all true. It’s true that when you are on the other side, time has flown. It’s also painfully true when you are in the thick of it, time stands still some days. It’s all correct.

My son is on his 6th grade camping trip. This is day #1. He is also turning 12 in less than a month. These milestones echo the countdown of adulthood. Moms of boys graduating high school this month are sure to “tsk” me and tell me how fast it all goes by and to cherish it.  Right now I can’t imagine it going any faster.

I don’t know if it’s because he’s my first, my most challenging, my most colorful, but his infancy, toddlerdom and elementary ages were painfully slow. Painfully.     S   l   o   w    . I’ve blogged/complained/bitched/moaned enough about the trials and tribulations. Very little was exaggerated. I knew nothing about how to raise this child until I was raising this child. We learned and figured most of it out together. What I didn’t know, I faked pretty terribly. I feel like his whole life aside from, you know, keeping him alive, I’ve been waiting for him to grow into himself. He was not a baby who enjoyed being a baby like his sister. He was not a toddler who managed his world. He did not tackle boyhood with fervor and tenacity. It was more triggers and anxiety. Colic and helmets. Physical therapy and occupational therapy. Medication and testing. IEPs and sensory challenges.

Finally, at long long last, my kid has become who he is. This sounds completely insane, but I’m curious if other moms out there understand this at all. My son was always somehow both emotionally far beyond his brain and miles behind his emotions. His reasoning was miles kilometers ahead of his age at the same time he also managed to be underdeveloped with his feelings.

Now he has arrived at himself. Things make sense for him. He is the closest to emotionally mature a 12 year old male human can be. He’s not a breath away from drowning anymore, he’s actually paddling the raft…. sometimes in circles. Sometimes the oar isn’t in the water, but he is controlling his own trajectory. It’s incredibly satisfying to watch. It’s still scary and new and unsure at times, but it is so cool to see him as the whole picture and get glimpses of how the future might be for him.

For the new moms out there, don’t be too hard on us when we tell you how fast it goes. We say it with the understanding of how slow it is for you right now. We wont take it personally when you scoff at our cliche sentiments, I promise 🙂


Good Enough

Published November 21, 2016 by sarcasmica

It’s that magical time of year again for the new IEP. (Individualized Education Program)

We’ve had multiple meetings every year for five years now – not including all the nightmare meetings during preschool and kindergarten- and I still dread them. I still loathe them. I’ve gotten better at managing my eye rolls and sighs, but it’s about as fun as a cavity.

I’m comfortable in my status quo, introverted, head-in-the-sand demeanor so sitting in front of a panel of experts regarding education and how to apply it to my ADHD/Dyspraxia kid is uncomfortable to say the least. Discussing his goals and expectations for his upcoming year is just not my idea of constructive conversation. Just do what teachers are supposed to do. Educate him. Is your classroom environment not working? Change scenery. Use your degrees and certifications to find a way to assimilate him into a regular 5th grade classroom. Done.

It’s gotten better, admittedly. Since putting him on Concerta his scores and ability in the classroom has exploded much to all of our amazement. Reading through his assessments right now still stings a bit. I’m not in tears like I used to be, so that’s something.

Sitting here waiting to go to this meeting is a bit like waiting to see the principal. To top it off, there are three new people working with him so we get to all sit and behave like professional adults…. not my forte.

So deep breath, swig of caffeine, and a bite of chocolate; me and my big girl pants are headed out to defend the educational rights of my child one more time.

Squeaky Wheels

Published October 26, 2016 by sarcasmica

Today I get to brag a little. Today I got an awesome email from one of my son’s teachers saying he is now working at grade level math.

Grade level.

For anyone new to my drama asylum  blog, my son has never been at grade level. He has challenges associated with Dyspraxia including ADD and sensory issues. Last year we were shocked to find out he is above grade level at reading, but everything else – writing, comprehension, math – was below. At least one grade level. He has had an IEP (individual education plan) team since first grade and we’ve been at this school since 3rd grade. 3rd grade was not a good year. It was a crappy teacher, it was a new campus, new principal on campus, it was a hard transition. The team confronted me with testing results similar to a kid with ADHD before we had gone down the road of diagnosis. The teacher was pushing for outside homework help, and the principal flat out asked in front of the entire team after revealing the similarities between my kid and an ADHD kid if I was going to medicate him. Not a good start with me.

Fourth grade had a great teacher who was very encouraging, if overworked, slightly uninspired, but very compassionate and supportive.  My husband and I decided to tiptoe down the terrifying road of medication. After a year of one-on-one assistance for our son, he was still unable to focus and follow through. Since school help gets no better than one-on-one attention, we had to do something for him.

The medication road is a very bumpy, dark, judgy road riddled with potholes and caution signs. It became overwhelming and we felt defeated more than once. I found people who understood the path and asked questions, confided, and shared stories. It made it easier. It made it so that I could continue until we found the right formula. No one really explains how difficult it is to come to the decision only to find more road blocks and let downs with failed prescriptions and wrong dosage and suspicious side effects. You work so hard to be okay with allowing your child to become dependent on a synthetic drug that you can’t help but have immediate assumptions. When the first doesn’t work, you doubt. When the second doesn’t work, you worry and doubt.

We lucked out and did the work and stuck with the program until we found the right combination. Today was the payoff. Last week I asked the new teacher for an idea of how the year was going. Did he still need the aid in the morning to help him stay on track for the classroom routine? Was he still relying solely on the teacher to reinforce the task schedule? Was he still sitting idle if not directly prodded into doing something?

No. I was told he was a pleasure to have in class, he works alongside his peers, he was an independent fifth grader who was giving no indication of drowning.

This took a minute to sink in.

Today another teacher wrote a followup regarding his math work and how he now just works on the assignments the rest of the class gets at the same time. Along with writing tasks, what he rarely does not complete in class, he will take down to the support center but all classwork is at grade level.

This could not have come together at a more perfect time. He transitions to middle school next year and the thought of my kid keeping track of six different classrooms, six different subjects and work and teachers was/is terrifying. It’s less so now.

On the way out of school today we ran into his fourth grade teacher. I stopped and with my son beside me we told her, “He’s at grade level math now!” She appropriately praised him for his work but then turned to me after thanking her for her help last year and said, “You know who really helped him, right?” I responded, “Well, he’s done all the hard work.”  she smiled and just looked at me and said, “True. But you know who really made it happen for him? You did. The squeaky wheel gets the job done. You did a great job for him.”

I held back my initial answer of “medication” but that isn’t true either. She’s right. If you can get over the resentment and anger and frustration of having to fight for your kid in an arena where you really shouldn’t have to, good things can happen. If you can get through the humiliating, frustrating, heart-breaking meetings where all you are told is deficits and fight for everyone to see the positive and ability, you just might get through and effect change for your kid.

This is not to say he will never again struggle. He surely will. That’s what growing is all about. Now I have faith we can overcome the next struggle because he is a whole, confident, capable boy who has a team of people who have no choice but to believe in him.



The New (School) Year

Published October 13, 2016 by sarcasmica

My kid is going to be in middle school next year. When he was born, getting through the colic and the shaping helmet and physical therapy were all-consuming. I never thought we’d make it to 1 without a healthy dose of green skin and a penchant for brains.

But we did it.

When he was 2 and getting in trouble at daycare for biting, and the daily scene of trying to drop him off and experiencing the screaming abandonment horrifying sobs and screams I never thought we’d make it to preschool.

But we did

And in preschool when the teachers began the long road of meetings and conferences and concerned behavior charts and feedback, I thought I would never get him to kindergarten – against the preschool’s recommendation

But we did

And in Kindergarten, when the teacher had to break down his days to five and ten minute increments to find the positive reinforcement opportunities, I just began to think it was always going to be a struggle. We continued on through specialists – Speech, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy – learning centers, IEP teams, doctors, prescriptions, diagnosis, guilt, worry, anxiety.

School is one more road navigated by squeaky wheels and parent advocates when it comes to kids outside the box. Every year we start over. Every year the cheerleading begins again and all you want is for each teacher to see that yes, this kid means extra work. Yes, you are already overworked, yes you are not paid anywhere near your actual value. Every parent in that school believes that. But my kid will require you to work more. Work differently. Work outside the very narrow box the school board and district allow you, but as hard as it is for you, the parents have to do it year in and year out. You have my kid for one year. Take him, teach him, appreciate the way he learns because he will not be the only kid who will benefit. Whatever strategy you use – and there will be more than one – understand that you are responsible for the foundation of the rest of his educational life. Just waiting out the year with him in your class is a disservice to yourself, his friends, his family, and most of all him.

Every year we get to look at each other around a table and reassess the needs of my kid. I will push. I will question. I will even tear up and maybe cry a bit. I am tough for him, but I am not tough when it comes to him. I’m a marshmallow of a mom who just wants her kid to have a shot at being average. That’s right! I’m pushing for grade level, regular old average learning. I know how hard he has to work to attain that and I’m ok with that. He knows the value of taking care of his friends. He understands how to respect his teachers. He is a bright, original, eager science lover. He has an ear for music. He thoroughly enjoys P.E. (if you don’t expect him to run) He treasures recess with his best friend. He’s more than the multiple choice answer required by the state on tests he vaguely understands every single year.

But he’ll work for you if you give him the chance to. And here we go again fighting for the chance to let my kid just be a regular 5th grade boy who already has crushes, is a fantastic reader, and is discovering a love for writing.

Sponsored by: IBUPROFEN  🙂

The Successful IEP

Published September 30, 2015 by sarcasmica

It is a rare and elusive thing for me lately. The “successful” IEP meeting. My son has issues, therefor the school district has him on an Individualized Education Program (IEP).

This is a fancy way of saying my kid requires a team of people to be able to keep afloat in school. We got beyond that emotional roller coaster in first grade. I sat in on these meetings as a professional back in my pre-child life. In the “what was” nether of time. As a parent, however, it’s a whole different show.

I have dealt with the guilt associated with a kid who has learning disabilities/delays. I have dealt with the frustration of feeling like ‘why does my kid have to be the different one’, blah blah blah. It all sounds so victim-oriented, and in a way it is. It very much is a feeling of that as a parent because honestly you are navigating choppy, hostile, uncharted waters through a monumentally-sized hurricane with zero compass all while exhausted from the sheer reality of living with a kid who has these demands. It takes a toll on your relationships. Relationships with your husband, your friends, you social group who may or may not want your kid around their kids, your family and their own personal opinions, societal expectations. The whole thing, quite frankly, is a shit show. But we’re through the worst of it at this point. He’s 9. I feel a little like i’m running the rodeo now more than I was when he was, say 3, and I felt like the clown just trying to dodge the angry charging bull.

My attitude at previous school meetings was always coming from a place of “thanks for working with my kid”. I know how hard he can be to deal with. Last year, however, I was less than pleased with his teacher. I completely respect teachers in general, but when my kid gets one who wants to literally do whatever she can to pawn him off on someone else, I no longer have much respect for you. Especially when said teacher touts her length of time with the district as a positive point. All that did for me was question her teaching theory. If you have taught 17 years and still don’t know what to do with a kid with ADHD and some other similar challenges, then maybe you should tweak your career plan. My kid doesn’t have some kind of unknown disability. He isn’t blind and deaf. He doesn’t act out in class even. You can’t handle a kid whose slightly below grade level?! If that is the biggest challenge to have in 17 years of teaching, it’s time to branch out.

So back to today. Having to deal with countless conferences and emails with the last one, I have brought myself leaps and bounds forward with my expectations of how things are gonna go at these team meetings now. This morning I was very proud that I layed down the law a little as an advocate for my kid. I have always advocated for him, but I had an itemized list in my head of the things I felt were done wrong last year, and today I listed those things for them and let them all know that I expected better and more of all of them.

They seemed to take it well as they were all furiously jotting down points and facts while nodding their heads and murmuring, “I completely agree”.

What that translates to I still don’t know, but at least I didn’t leave feeling like they were being burdened with a task of working with my child but rather challenged to think outside the box and draw up a plan that will work.

My best lines went something like, “Last year all I heard about was how he isn’t working at grade level, how he’s behind, and how he can’t keep up. This is not news, people. This is nothing new and it’s not something that’s going to change anytime soon. I no longer want to hear any of those phrases. What I expect to hear from here on out is where he’s grown, how good he’s doing on _____, and what the plan is to get him to a level where he needs to be.”

At one point someone began talking about how he still needs to be redirected a bunch to which I said, “He is now on medication. He was successful at therapy all summer. I’ve sat with him for homework which he now completes start to finish. His medicine is working, as far as I’m concerned, but that’s not going to be a magical solution for you guys. Move forward with that knowledge and do with it what you will.” and that seemed to squash all the moaning and groaning about keeping him on task.

Sidenote: I know how frustrating it must have been to work with a kid who is actually very intelligent. How do you motivate a child to pick up a pencil and listen to the instruction when there is a mile of static you have to push through just for him to see you? I know this struggle. I am his parent and this is my life. I have managed to get him this far. You are his instructors and you chose this career. You have tools I was never given. Pull up your diplomas and certificates, strap on those theories and educational models and stop relying on parents to “just medicate”. Work as a team with the parents to get the best from the kid. I’m not looking for a miracle. I’m not expecting him to suddenly achieve a 4.0 grade level status. I just want him to finally know what it feels like to be a successful student! “Just medicate” is not an answer, and I feel like the academic community – at least here – does not at all understand what that phrase means. What does it mean for a parent to get to a point where she finally feels like giving her child an amphetamine every single day is an option? How does that feel as a mother?  It feels like complete shit. What makes it acceptable to me, however, is watching my kid take out his homework, sit down with a pencil, begin, ask questions, work out a problem, and finish his homework in a fraction of the time it used to. To get a glimpse at how ‘regular kids’ manage their daily tasks. And to see him complete the process by actually putting the paper back into the folder and then into his backpack?!! That is so stupidly glorious I am almost embarrassed to admit it. But I have to. I have to because parents with typical children who may squabble or hear some groaning have no idea that what I just described has taken years, and now medication, to achieve.

So today I felt like the warrior I needed to be for my kid finally. Perhaps this medication journey has strengthened me a bit for him, and if so i’m grateful. It was nice to walk away from an IEP meeting feeling like I clearly established my expectations and demands for my son rather than overwhelmed and lost about where they can fit him in.

Margarita anyone?!

Thanks, Teach

Published June 11, 2015 by sarcasmica

This summer I’m going to be positive. I’m going into it with high hopes for lots of family bonding time with a backdrop of rainbows and dew covered roses. You know whyyyyyy? Because summer means no homework. No paperwork forgotten in backpacks and then forgotten to turn in. No permission slips or book reports. But most of all, no IEP meetings reminding me my kid needs special attention. No head-tilt nodding when i’m explaining that I actually believe my kid is doing much better. No concerned frantic pencil scribbles in the midst of a meeting because some new issue has popped up.

No reminders my kid is negatively different than his class.

Instead, we are going to revel in the fact that any and all activities here at home- and anywhere we decide to venture out to- will be perfectly fit and tailored to each of my children. My kid is set up for success here at home and with me. … well … until he pisses me off, that is. Then it’s just barking orders. But for the most part, there is nothing here he can’t do.

I’m happy to have my kids around, and at least for the first two weeks, I will build them up and vocalize all the great things I notice about them. So thanks, Teach, for giving me the opportunity to take center stage and let my kid shine. And no, we will not miss you. Unlike the last three teachers my kid has had and been sad to say goodbye to, and written cute little cards for, and picked out thoughtful gifts for, you did not quite make the cut this year. Your effort was lacking for my son. I’m tilting my head to the side and gravely nodding my head at the thought perhaps, if you work hard, you can find the ability to measure up next year for the next class you get. From where i’m sitting, you might need to be put on an ITP – and individualized teaching plan. You need some goals yourself. You need to learn to look, peek, squint even, outside the box. The box that is your classroom where a majority of kids are privileged. Kids who have not had any life challenges. Kids who have not had to learn and form skills and personal growth from life experiences. My kid is a rock star who, despite moving four states in five years, has managed in each one to make friends. To care about each one. To still go out and put himself out there to be accepted. My kid has met countless faces of grown ups who work with him and each time put him out of his comfort zone with care and love. They all managed to get results from a boy who does nothing but challenge those around him. That’s his role here, it seems. He will push and pull and twist every button you’ve got, but with the charm and smile and heart that you will find yourself laughing along side. You might, Teach, learn something about yourself once you set some expectations that go beyond working with kids who have zero challenges or issues.

And maybe, just maybe, next year if you get a kid who has for whatever reason not met all standard goals walking into your room, you might be able to remember that you once had a kid in the same situation. You let other people deal with him. You let other people build him up. I hope you take the next opportunity presented in the form of a kid not  perfectly formed and already succeeding to dig in and do the work with so you can find out some wonderful abilities I know you must have.

Excuse me now while I go stock my liquor cabinet in preparation for summer break.


Education Gauntlet

Published December 11, 2014 by sarcasmica

Reading through my son’s IEP goals for the year (at a new school) make me want to poke my eyeballs out. Every goal listed reverberates in my head, “And what have YOU done to help that, ‘Mom’?!”

Dejected, I have to just go through the rest as fast as I can while fielding questions from the kids about their coloring activity, answer the door for the furniture guy, try to convince myself my life is completely normal, and lots and lots of third grade boys are operating at a mostly second grade level.


I just want my son to be normal and not have this kind of struggle. I can handle bully struggles or hygiene struggles or even ‘i cant stand my teacher’ struggles, but not basic learning and education struggles.

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