When a child who can not speak, sit, stand, walk, eat, or use their arms, gets ready to enter school the special education team stands in the wings ready to tell you what they can and will do for your child. As a parent you learn about all of the laws, get accustomed to the meetings, and endures countless evaluations. When it is obvious your child will need special help it is not hard to get on a basic level.
What about when you have a child that for all intensive purposes is "normal", a child who for the most part made it through elementary school with good grades and had proficient state testing scores until middle school? Would you assume anything was wrong?
For the last 2 years I have been listening to my son's teachers tell me that he needs to focus, pay more attention, and try harder. I have received the homework lecture about a hundred times but no matter what I do his grades have been less then great.
The beginning of this year when the state testing score arrived in the mail I was shocked to find another disturbing piece to the puzzle of our struggle with school. Up until now my son's scores on these tests where still at grade level despite his performance at school. What I was looking at this year was however a different story.
So I called the school. I got bounced around from one person to the next. Each had their own explanation for my son's failure. First it was.... "Middle school is a rough transition. He will be just fine. He's a great kid." Then it was....... "Well, maybe he has just taken that test so many times that he just didn't try." and finally it was, " There are three parts to your sons education, the teachers, the parent, and the child. I really think that your son just needs to be more motivated and try harder."
However, if you have read this blog more than once you know that excuses and blame pacing do not work for me when it comes to my kids. So I took matters into my own hands and had private testing done to find out if there was more to this than my child's will and lack of desire to learn.
Turns out my kid is VERY smart. Unfortunately that is not the end of the story. He also has some profound hurdles to overcome when it comes to learning.
I sat down with his teachers and the school administrators this week. I handed them the results and to say they were less then helpful would be an understatement. We talked a lot about how to get homework home and back to school again but not a lot about what any of it meant while he was at school other then preferential seating. At the end of the meeting I asked the administrator who I would need to contact about further district testing and whether or not we should pursue and IEP or a 504 and her answer shocked me. She proceeded to tell me that she herself dealt with 504's but not IEP's. Then she told me that I needed to figure out which one my son needed and then let her know and she would handle it from there. REALLY? I need to figure it out? And wasn't my testing enough to want to start the process to figure this out right away? Nope guess not.
After our meeting I took the test results to a friend who is an educator. She opened the folder, looked at the results, her mouth dropped and from her lips she was able to utter....."OH, MY.... YEAH" She told me that that he needed an IEP and explained what to do in order to get them to focus on the issues at hand.
What I want to know is since when did it become ok to over look a child who hasn't passed a core class in 2 years? Since when do we blame the child and offer so many excuses for why a child isn't succeeding?
I don't really think I want to know the answer to that question. What I do know is that I have been playing the IEP game now for over 4 years and I am damn good at it. What I do know is that unhelpful people better get out of my way because this momma bear is coming through. There will be no more excuses and ALL of my children will get what they need to succeed.