How to Make Your IEP Easier to Swallow
by Lori Miller Fox
A Little IEP Humor….
There is definitely a season for IEPs. A time of year when stress is in the air, and feelings of panic and antagonism abound. Parents scurry busily about, preparing for the big day circled on their calendars. And let’s not forget, that list of school people who are naughty and nice.
And like so many other longstanding, if you can remain standing, traditions; year after year you reunite with many of the same familiar faces, catching up on the events of the year. Some will even tell you how adorable your child is, and how much he or she has grown. There are a lot of people sitting around a large table who would rather not be there, initially forcing themselves to exchange “pleasantries” until someone says something totally ignorant or offensive and the shouting begins. Just like any other typical American holiday dinner; only here we’re not all related by blood or marriage.
So I’d like to propose a new Hallmark holiday for the IEP season. The biggest problem, as I see it though, is that unfortunately, there is no cook book for this time of year. If only Julia Child were here. Lucky for us though, her lesser-known fictional sister, Julia Specialneedschild offers a long list of IEP “party” recipes. Here are just a few of my favorites.
A gracious host always starts out by giving guests something to chew on before an IEP meeting. Here’s a tasty snack to get the meeting going. Parents just love these before-IEP snacks because it keeps school people’s mouths busy so parents can get a word in edgewise.
Take copies of IDEIA. A copy of No Child Left Behind – but be sure to cut around the rotten parts Add current regulations Serve as cold facts. Spoon feed if necessary.
Here’s another snack that is tasty, but is sometimes hard for school people to swallow.
Take ‘em Down a Nachos
Take years of parental experience Add pages of private therapists’ reports Throw expert opinions on top. Don’t forget to fold in the negative-thinking school people’s words, so when your child succeeds, they can eat them.
Heat things up with a hearty soup. This one’s perfect for the narrow-minded case manager or Special Education Director. Serves the relevant number of school people who need it.
Take a handful of children with special needs Throw them in a self-contained classroom Be sure not to include proper programming Wait until the end of the term, try to mix them Discard the untouched portion.
Next, a light appetizer does wonders for a heavy heart.
Full of Crepes
Take your child’s entire curriculum and leave it flat. Fill it with music, coloring, clapping, and other growth-stifling activities with no academic content that takes up the school day. Combine some school personnel’s ideas for your child’s future- leave them half-baked.
For your main course, make something easy that doesn’t require much effort; like the courses, your child is taking at school. For example, a tray of Wag Your Finger Sandwiches would do nicely. Here are some popular choices.
Examine the team’s so-called “qualifications” and see if they’re kosher. Pile on the bologna Spread related services very thin. Take the school team’s compliments with a grain of salt And put it all between two slices of your child’s life.
Panini Meenie Minie Moe
Put down a prewritten goal from one child Layer another prewritten goal from a different child Pile on another prewritten goal from yet another child. Be sure to leave out any modifications or adaptations that would make it individualized or appropriate Serve it as your child’s IEP.
Hitting Below the BLT
Discuss and agree on all ingredients before preparation Pretend to start with appropriate placement Add necessary adaptations, required modifications, needed service minutes, and equipment. Freely make substitutions. Stuff with manufactured data and artificial test results Leave out honesty and trust Make it into a totally different sandwich, until it becomes a meal to which your child is academically, socially, and emotionally allergic.
Kick Their Butt Steak
Pull apart the meat of the school’s arguments. Present raw data Be tough with rare exception Cut yourself some slack. And always, always bite off more than you originally thought you could chew. Your Child’s Hero Take big hunks of belief in your child. Add his or her dreams. Spread encouragement and support. Marinate in love. And most importantly, share it with your child.
After the meal, it’s appropriate to offer your guests something to drink. And coffee drinks are an excellent choice. This one’s ideal for the teacher who says “I wasn’t trained for this.”
Cafe au Lazy
Take a general education teacher Add a child with special needs Put them together in the same classroom Stir up trouble And wait until you see steam Don’t forget the foam, from angry parents’ mouths.
Dessert is always a must. This one’s a favorite of any parent who advocates for their child.
One Tough Cookie
Shred a huge stack of unmet IEP goals Crush a large pile of parents’ dreams. Sprinkle in what’s left of your child’s confidence–but make sure you really shake it up first Finally, add the most important ingredient — a well-prepared special education attorney. Put it all together And turn up the heat Wait for expectations to rise.