Looming over tomorrow’s horizon is our first IEP in three years.  Oh, we had IEP’s in Dublin, but they were more “Okay, she needs to learn this, let’s do it” more laid back chats with teacher/staff.  There was no “Child will receive x amount of minutes of Y up to 3 days a week” rules with “Child will learn how to draw straight line at least 70% of the time” measurement standards.

When I met with the special ed person here to make sure they were aware of Maura, she asked for latest IEP’s and evaluations.  I handed her the papers from Ireland – three pages from the teacher outlining where Maura was at, two pages from the PT outlining what they’d been doing and where Maura was at.

I got a “That’s it?” response to the miniscule amounts of paperwork I presented.

What’s funny is that I had easily transitioned my brain to the Irish way of things.  I was impressed with how thoroughly they had described Maura and her progress.

I did let this American educator know that when I presented the Irish school staff with all of Maura’s paperwork, they were impressed with the amount of documents attached to one small girl.  “You sure do like your paperwork there.” was the one comment I remember.

And I hadn’t even brought the full binder.

Yes, I have a binder.  Of just IEP’s and evaluations from the school.

Mental note – buy a new binder.

I’m not all sure what tomorrow’s meeting brings – if it’s a full IEP or just the first step to the IEP.  Maura’s school has two choices – mainstreaming or a functional life skills class.  We’ve done both, and Maura did well in mainstreaming, but she did well in a FLS class as well.  As she ages, we worry less about reading and writing (six years of her trying to draw a straight line and failing sort of makes you put that goal to the wayside in your parental mind).  We worry more about her being as independent as possible.  Knowing safety from danger, how to take care of herself, how to communicate better.  I’d like for her to be able to bathe herself, to not meet every other crisis with a high pitched shriek, to be able to let her play out front alone, to get through stores without a meltdown.  She’s getting older, she needs to be able to take care of herself a bit more.

Math and reading are at the lower ends of my list of “What Maura Needs to Learn”.

I have to live with her forever, hopefully my needs will be heard and taking into serious consideration.

So we’ll see.  We’ll see how they react to a child like Maura, a child who fits comfortably in the moderately cognitively disabled category, whose cute little brain doesn’t always catch onto certain concepts, who can’t always focus.  A three year old in a ten year old’s body, that’s how we describe Maura.  It’s the easiest way to describe her, even though it’s a very simplistic way to describe the conundrum she is.

I am going in with the expectation that I will meet with one or more lovely people, who will listen and take notes and do their best by my child.  But mama’s also no fool – I have my Nolo IEP Guide and my spine in tact.  I’ve experienced the best and seen the worst.

Hopefully it will all go well.

Psst…if you don’t have a copy of Nolo’s The Complete IEP Guide: How to Advocate for Your Special Ed
Child, I highly recommend it.  It takes a lot of the mystery out of the rights and rules of the IEP.