it’s IEP review season in my house. We just did my younger son’s and are going to do my older sons in a little bit. We put that off because he’s got a little bit on his plate right now. And so do we as parents. But it made me think that it might be a good idea to cover the topic briefly on my blog.
IEPs are a wonderful and mysterious thing. They allow your children with neurodiversities, mental or physical health issues, learning differences, and other issues to get a more fair and equal playing field when it comes to learning at school. In theory. Unfortunately, they’re largely unenforceable without the backing of a a large reservoir of knowledge, a will of steel, and an expensive lawyer. That is, if your school system or your individual School is not of the mind to be helpful. Yet, on the other hand much can be accomplished with cooperation without a formalized declaration of accommodations.
Unfortunately, this is just another area of disparity in our society. Though it doesn’t always fall on racial and socioeconomic lines, too often it does. Cities and towns with fewer resources tend to be less accommodating and fight parents almost on principle. My general feeling is the first question we have to ask is: what is the point of school? Last time I checked it should be about learning. And maybe there should be a little bit of social justice, standing up for the little guy, and fairness thrown in there. And when I say fairness, I mean real fairness, not the fake fairness that school systems talk about when they say that everybody needs the same rules even though everybody is different.
the reality is that you can ask for anything in your kids IEP that is in any way reasonable and doesn’t take away from their learning or the assessment of that learning. Schools that don’t want to play ball will act like they’ve never heard such a wild request and make you feel crazy for asking. And do you have no frame of reference. You’ve never done this before. Or maybe you’ve had limited experience with one other kid. They’ve been doing it with hundreds of kids a year for decades. They know full well they’re crushing your hopes and dreams for no reason.
or, they know that they’re doing amazing work helping kids succeed where otherwise they wouldn’t be able to. I have to say that at the elementary and middle schools where my kids go I have had such a great experience that I have hardly had to ask for anything. After assessing my kids they have offered as part of the IEP everything that my kids needed. At least initially. As time has gone on we’ve needed to add things. And they’ve been cool with that. It’s been an easy experience. And I think them for that many times. Because when you’re dealing with kids with issues everyday is hard. You don’t need to also be fighting with the school. But I know so many of you are. And it makes me sad. I’ve had to get in on that fight on behalf of clients in the past and it’s unnecessary. Most of the time what our ADHD kids need doesn’t require a ton of resources from the school, just a institutional flexibility that they often don’t want to supply. I think some administrators are fans of the slippery slope theory. Well, we give this to one kid, then everyone will want it. But who gives a s***. You mean, we might let all the kids learn? That would be horrible!
I’ll get off my soapbox and wrap this up. My advice is to be cordial, professional, friendly. Don’t burn a bridge unless you have to. You might be surprised at how helpful your school or your school system is. But if they’re not helpful, don’t be afraid to go in guns blazing and demand what your kid needs whether it’s with an IEP or 504. If they’re still not receptive, I recommend getting a qualified educational advocate to be your heavy. Cheaper than a lawyer and often more effective without having to go to court.