Back in the saddle again

I’ll be headed into our first special education meeting of the season later this week, and it should be a real doozy. Chickadee’s guidance counselor has been changed, since last year, and she has a new diagnosis, and we want some additional testing, and… well, you know I always make cookies, but I think I’d better be certain to make REALLY GOOD COOKIES for this one.

I pull no punches when it comes to dealing with the school. Five minutes after meeting the new guidance counselor, I was saying, “Look, I’m going to be a pain in your ass. I know this and I’m telling you. I’m here to advocate for my child, and if we need something, I will be here until she gets it. On the other hand, I think you’ll find I’m pretty realistic about who she is and what she needs and what the school should be providing, and when everyone here does their job, I will be here saying thank you. Plus I make good cookies.” She looked a little scared. We’ll see how it goes.

Transitioning to the high school years when you have a kid with an IEP or 504 Plan is a whole new ball of wax, man. I’ve got a few quick tips on navigating special education with an older child up at Alpha Mom today, just in case you, too, recently realized how little time is left before college to teach your special snowflake how to be her own best advocate. (Hold me.)

14 Responses to “Back in the saddle again”

  1. 1
    Eileen August 20, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

    Sigh. Cookies. Cookies? You set the bar high, Mir.

  2. 2
    Nancy R August 20, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

    Pioneer woman’s chocolate, chocolate, white chocolate chip cookies are fantastic.

  3. 3
    Heather S August 20, 2013 at 4:30 pm #

    Cookies make it a LOT better when you are asking them to do their jobs very well. Smart kids who need IEPs seem to make school administrators hurt.

  4. 4
    MomQueenBee August 20, 2013 at 5:18 pm #

    Our four boys had, collectively, seven IEPs (three for speech, four for gifted) during their public school years. My advice? Bring your own pen and start signing forms as soon as you sit down.

  5. 5
    Mame August 20, 2013 at 6:36 pm #

    Saying thank you when everyone does their job is a good idea, cookies of course are a good idea. I use to make a point of writing a letter to the School Board with copies for everyone involved, to say thank you when they did a good job. I figured that way if I had a complaint it was on record that I’m not just a complainer.

    • 5.1
      Mir August 21, 2013 at 6:22 am #

      Oh, smart! Such a good idea.

  6. 6
    Kyle August 20, 2013 at 11:09 pm #

    When I had to advocate for my child at her school, at the start of every meeting I would pull out a notebook and politely ask for the names of everyone attending – then take copious notes. It seemed that knowing someone was writing down what they were saying made everyone “sit up” a little straighter.

  7. 7
    CIndy August 21, 2013 at 10:58 am #

    Cookies are awesome, I should make a truckload. My adventure in IEPs is just beginning and I am starting at the high school level with a kid who doesn’t even legally belong to me yet. The fun? It’s never ending. We can’t have input to the whole IEP process because we don’t have custody. We don’t have custody because there is a family member who does have custody but refuses let him come back to her house OR sign over custody/care to us. Funny thing, she didn’t bother to notify whatever crazy ass branch of MD state government that writes checks to family members to take care of their own kin. We live in VA where you are on your own, sucka, unless you enter the disaster that is foster care. School says he is homeless and enrolled him under the Mckinney-Vento Act but we should take him to social services to work on custody. Social services says take him back to MD and when advised there is nowhere in MD to take him, it’s all, oh hey he’s in a safe place and therefore not in need of services, why don’t you take it to the court system? Court says we can’t even file for custody until he’s been in this state for six months, so sorry, too bad too sad. And since you asked, why do you even have a child who is not your kin? Let’s call social services!

    Sooo, basically I’m just here to prove whatever Murphy’s law that says it can always get worse.

    • 7.1
      elizabeth August 21, 2013 at 12:32 pm #

      Oh dear. Sympathy and prayers for your year and the child’s. These situations are so complicated. Good for you for not giving up. Here’s hoping things change for the better!

  8. 8
    Mary K. in Rockport August 21, 2013 at 1:05 pm #

    I did all those things when #2 daughter was in middle and high school. But a sad note here – she went off to a college where the emphasis was on self-reliance and “they’re over 18, hands off, parents, and we will not tell you ANYTHING.” Being unrealistically stoic, daughter #2 refused to admit she was flailing, refused to avail herself of any of the educational and emotional buttressing available to her at the school, the school didn’t warn us of a thing, she kept on her happy face – until she crashed and burned. Daughter #1 went to a different college where they told us “We know your sons and daughters are over 18, but you, their parents, are their most important mentors, not to mention paying their tuition, and if there is an issue that you need to know about, we will find a way to tell you.” World of difference – keep it in mind. The names of these two different colleges, both in Massachusetts, I can tell you via email if you want.

  9. 9
    12tequilas August 21, 2013 at 2:22 pm #

    This could become relevant for me, maybe, possibly, on the remote chance that my special snowflake has ADD, which he doesn’t, but maybe he does. Anyway, wondering about the comparative effects of cookies vs. brownies, and whether one should frost or decorate, and perhaps claim that they are low fat even if they aren’t? Important, education-related questions here.

    • 9.1
      Mir August 21, 2013 at 2:30 pm #

      I try to stick with things that won’t make too big a mess during the meeting, so I’d skip frosting/decoration. I’ve also been known to suggest that if you eat it during a meeting the calories don’t count, but I never make it healthy on purpose. ;)

  10. 10
    Curious Party August 23, 2013 at 11:57 am #

    I just got around to seeing this, and Mir, such a great post. Calories consumed during IEP meetings should not count if there is any justice in the world. Also, my PSA for all parents of students with special needs (public school with IEP or private school with supports) is – as soon as you know where your child will be going to college, check with the student support program at your school to make sure you have everything you need to get the accommodations for your student. Every summer I have families who don’t realize until Freshman Orientation that they need some kind of testing or testing update, and then it’s way too late to get the process started AND finished before school starts. Some schools will give accommodations temporarily but others won’t, and it’s heartbreaking when that happens.

  11. 11
    Daisy August 31, 2013 at 8:35 pm #

    Some day I’ll send you a copy of an old post titled “Are you smarter than a school social worker?” The worst part of an IEP meeting is when the major pain in the rear turns out to be someone I’ve taught with in the past. There’s a definite disadvantage at times in teaching in the same district.
    The sequel: now I teach online, and my office is down the hall from the special education director. Luckily, we are on good terms.

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