As the parent of a student who receives special education services, there are a few things I want you to know.
1. I am not looking for a fight, a miracle, or more than is due my child. I am simply trying to be an equal member of the committee of professionals that is making a plan for my son. If I seem nit-picky, it’s because I love this child more than life itself. Please try to view me as a part of the team. Please talk to me as a member of the team. My opinion and my knowledge of my child are very important and valuable. Please stop and ask for my opinion and my input during the meeting.
2. Walking into the conference room for an IEP meeting is the most intimidating thing I’ve ever done—more intimidating than job interviews or meeting with a loan officer. There are at least 10 of you, and there’s only one of me. It’s uncomfortable. You can help me feel more comfortable by creating an atmosphere that doesn’t feel “us against them.” If we introduce ourselves, explain our roles, and remain cordial, it’s not nearly as intimidating.
3. Keep in mind that I am in this for the long haul. You, as a committee member, are only really planning for the next 12 months. But I, as his parent, am looking way beyond the next 12 months. Sometimes if I don’t agree with the plan as proposed, it’s because I’m looking 10 years ahead, and the proposed plan isn’t appropriate for the long-term plan.
4. I would like to hear you talk about my son's competence, about his strengths and victories and for you to have high expectations for his success. Even if we are not sure he is learning all that we are presenting to him, until he proves to us beyond a doubt that he is not learning it, then I expect you to teach it all to him. Don’t wait for him to prove his knowledge. Instead, pour into him the richness and depth that is the full curriculum.
5. I would like you to be creative and think outside the box when you work with him. Having my child in your class isn’t easy. And there is no “cookie cutter” lesson plan to teach him. Yes, he will keep you guessing and keep you hopping and changing your strategies. His future depends on your being creative each day.
6. I cannot thank you enough for investing in my child. The hard work, the long hours, the extra work on visual supports, and everything else you do does not go unnoticed. I appreciate you. I need you. I depend on you. Thank you.