Tuesday, March 24, 2015
yesterday morning we had her annual iep, which is when we meet with her team from the school district to decide what services she will need for the coming year. it is always stressful, and a bit of wearing my mama heart on my sleeve to have her strengths and areas of need evaluated. even though i want her to get services for her areas of deficiency, which, let's face it, are to be assumed since she is profoundly deaf, it's also hard that she still struggles in areas after working so hard day in and day out.
we are really lucky to work with such great people at our school district. if you know much about our public schools here, you know that we have far fewer resources than many other districts. and because our district serves such a diversity of backgrounds, they are also juggling many demands and needs with those limited resources. that said, the people who work within our district are not doing it for the money or the kudos. they are in the trenches in a very real way, and helping kids who are struggling, who have special needs, or who are the most vulnerable. i adore our daughter's teacher of the deaf, and her speech language therapist. they are both itinerant, which means every day they are driving to schools all over oakland, working in hallways and closets and tiny offices and the backs of classrooms with the kids on their caseloads. we are lucky enough to have monrovia on their list of students. they truly go above and beyond to make sure she is getting everything she can out of her mainstream setting. i really feel- as you're supposed to if your child has an iep- that we are all on the same team. it's such a gift to know that when she is at school all day, that the people working with her truly want the same best for her that matt and i do.
yesterday morning matt, our principal, our daughter's teacher, her speech therapist, her teacher of the deaf and i all sat around a tiny table in the principal's office, hashing out what would help monrovia do best this next year in school. instead of having to negotiate and wrangle, we had a two hour fruitful, encouraging, frank discussion of our daughter's best coping strategies, her gifts (compassion and kindness), her areas of need (oh reading, you are killing us), how well she does on paper vs. in reality, different approaches that could help her reach her goals, and ways she's improved over the last year.
at the end of the meeting, i did something i've never done before in almost 7 years of having these meetings: i signed the iep. right away. without thinking about it, without holding out for something better, without having to assess whether it was enough, we came up with a plan that supports our daughter's best self and recognizes that she really needs support in some key ways.
it doesn't always go like that, and even with fantastic services in place there will be areas that monrovia will struggle. but i am thankful for the process of revisiting her needs, talking it through with professionals who support and know our daughter, and for the feeling of not having to be her only advocates.