Why do I always feel icky after those meetings at school? I think it’s because I don’t like the person I have to become to fight for my twice exceptional kids.
Individually, I really like all who attend… teachers, principal, GT rep, Instructional Coach, etc. I believe that they believe they are trying hard to help Zoolander. But I also think that if I don’t continually push and push, and sometimes get ugly, Zoolander will not get what she needs to be a successful learner. That is what I have learned.
What I want to tell them is this… “I’m sorry I sometimes have to be unpleasant in these meetings, I like and respect you all, and I know you work hard, but I don’t trust you anymore and when I say ‘you’, I mean the ‘system’. I got burned before and my child suffered for it and I’m not going to let it happen again.”
When Lily started having difficulties in school in 2nd grade, I was assured that they were working on it. They did a full evaluation and started an IEP for her. As a twice exceptional student she qualified for an IEP because of her ADHD. I was completely clueless and just signed on the dotted line. I had no idea I could offer IEP input and even if I had, I wouldn’t have known what to do. I trusted that they knew what to do.
Lily’s difficulties just got worse, but I was assured that her case was being discussed at higher-levels. She was visiting an ADHD Coach, but seeing no results. By 4th grade, Lily’s teacher suggested I get her evaluated privately. She had a twice exceptional college-aged son who had similar challenges and she had done the same. That’s when I started to wise-up.
We then spent more than a year gathering info on Lily… with extensive (and expensive) outside testing, evaluations and therapy. When I was ready to go back to the table with the school to get Lily the help she needed, I was blown away by what hadn’t been done for Lily.
Not one person was looking at the big picture. The district had done testing, but no one had analyzed it looking for clues. Her IEP goals, written by the school, were way off-base. I was struck by the fact that up until now, Lily, herself, had been blamed for her behavior and no one with the proper expertise had bothered to figure out what was actually causing her behavior.
Eventually, it was our outside experts who pieced together the causes of her behavior, which I brought to the school and to the district. I was then frustrated to discover that no one really knew what to do to help. I demanded that the district provide the resources to come up with a plan, but in the end, again… it was our money and our outside experts who provided the answers.
So, even after all that, even after trying to educate myself as much as possible using wrightslaw.com, even after using the services of a knowledgeable advocate, I still feel like there is so much unspoken at those meetings. There are resources that aren’t mentioned, protocols that aren’t followed, procedures that aren’t discussed, tests that aren’t done and unless I know to ask, no one will tell me.
Makes sense, because if a parent is unaware, why would the district volunteer their limited resources? That’s their biggest advantage in a negotiation—they know and you don’t. Another common tactic that really gets me is the subtle vibe–’we’re calm professionals and you’re a crazy mother who is overreacting and imagining problems and expecting too much.’
So, in conclusion… that’s where I’m coming from at these meetings and that’s why I am forced to be… (nothing personal, of course)… a mistrustful jerkwad.