My husband and I recently attended my son’s annual Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) meeting. We left, believe it or not, smiling and happy with how the meeting went. The meeting lasted about 45 minutes. During the meeting, we found out how my son was progressing and what the plans were for the end of fifth grade and the beginning of the sixth grade.
This was probably the best ARD meeting we have ever had. We were given plenty of time to talk, share concerns, and ask questions. We have had some horrible ARD meetings where my husband left furious, and I was in tears. We were both worried about what would happen to our son and how we would manage the school year.
I wish I could say that we were the reason that the ARD went so well, but we weren’t. It was a group effort, and everyone did their job. The teacher would contact us each week by email and let us know what was going on and if we needed to address anything. She would share how his therapy at school was going.
Before the ARD, the school sent home notes and information to help us be prepared for the ARD. So on the day of the ARD, when we all sat down in a very crowded room, we knew what was going on. We did not feel like outsiders. We felt like we were all one team.
I will say that ARDs depend on the teachers, therapist, and school staff, but most importantly, it depends on the parents. If we walk in with a chip on our shoulder looking for the bad, we will find it. Yet if we walk in with a smile and a good attitude, we will get a lot further.
My grandpa used to tell me, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” It is true when we walk in with a bad attitude it gives off a sense of anger and that spreads to everyone present.
If you don’t feel like your team is listening, take another person who can help you voice your concerns in a kind way. I was able to take my son’s caseworker from Texas Health and Human Services (HHS) and she shared our concerns about his vision.
After several bad ARDs, I made up a sheet with a picture of my son with all the things he could do and the things he struggled with. I believe this helped them see past his disabilities. I have had to swallow my pride on several occasions and ask for forgiveness and was met with kindness and a willingness for a new start.
Our children and their futures are worth the effort.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” -- Helen Keller
Detailed information on the ARD process can be found in Education and Schools.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs to share their tips and stories about caring for their children during difficult times.