Monday, April 3, 2017

When You Dread IEP Meetings

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
James 4:1-3 NIV

IEP meetings are part of life when you have a child with delays or disabilities. These meetings are often dreaded by parents and can be seen as a source of stress or anger.

There’s one good reason for that; the meeting is about their child.

These meetings make us parents confront our child’s difficulties and challenges. We must look at where our children are academically, socially, and functionally. We are sometimes given numbers and scores that try to explain to us how our child is performing and how this may impact their future. We may discuss problems in school or home and try to come up with possible solutions. Every once in a while, important decisions must be made about placement changes, minutes needed in therapy, or a need for an individual aide.
There are often many people at these IEP meetings who serve on the team. Not all of them will have the same opinion. Sometimes, parents feel that they are in a battle alone when they don’t agree with what the school professionals may be recommending. This can be frustrating.
What is a Christian parent to do in this situation?

It’s easy to find articles or advice that suggest things like:
Fight for your child, no one else will.
Don’t allow the school to place your child where you don’t want them to go.
The school is only worried about the costs of your child's education and makes decisions based on that.
This is your child, so make your demands known and fight!

When I hear things like this, I have to wonder if we as parents see our view as THE right one without giving the school a fair chance to explain themselves. What if everyone came to the IEP meeting ready to discuss the child’s strengths and needs and come to a place of understanding that would be beneficial to the child?

Perhaps, you think your child needs 60 minutes of speech therapy because they haven’t made progress. Maybe the school is offering 40 minutes. Can you be open to hearing the school’s perspective? Can you be willing to ask questions for clarification instead of saying words in anger? Instead of demanding that your desires be met, can you be willing to compromise or offer another solution?
Some of you may be thinking that your school does not have reasonable people. I understand that. I understand that not every school will value your opinion or make you feel like you've been heard. That being said, you are still responsible for your actions and words.

After a disappointing meeting, there may be some temptation to share your frustrations with others. If you seek out other parents in the school to confide in and possibly swap IEP stories and outcomes, is that Godly? If we spread our “bad” experience with a school or specific professional to other parents, are we not in the wrong? If we try to warn other parents about a certain therapist, have we checked our motives first? Are we making other parents dread something by spreading our thoughts?

This is the time of year when many teams will convene to make decisions. Let's go into these with prayer and open minds. Let's not dread the meetings. Let's be thankful for the advice and wisdom that other professionals have to give us. Finally, let's pray for wisdom for EVERYONE on the team, so that your child can have the life God intended. 

PRAY: God, I ask for your help as I participate in my child’s IEP meeting. Help me to hear your voice and represent you during the meeting. Help your desires for my child to be my desires. Help me to know when to be assertive and when to compromise. Bless those who pour into my child at school every day. Refresh their spirits and give them new ideas too. Let the people around my child have the best intentions in mind as they make decisions. Help us all to walk in unity when our team comes together. Amen.

Evana

4 comments:

  1. I can't relate yet but my heart goes out to mothers who feel such frustrations. May you find comfort in God's presence.

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  2. Wise words. I DEFINITELY see a difference in the toolkit of a Christian versus a non-Christian.

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