My Love / Hate Relationship with IEPs

I usually don’t start a post with a disclaimer but please accept this one time. This post is based on my personal experience as a mom and is also based on the way things were run in the city of Cleveland, Ohio 15 years ago… so read it with all that in mind!

I was going through a purging phase recently. Decided it was time to go through the boxes that hadn’t been touched since moving six years ago. During that process I came across Joshua’s IEP (Individualized Education Program) from age four.  

If you’re not familiar, an IEP is a document the school district uses to set goals for kids with any kind of special need or learning disability. They identify the concern, or the task that the child is not able to complete at an age appropriate level, and then say how they are going to work on it, and then list what they hope to accomplish. This is done at the start of every school year.

So for example, Joshua did not make eye contact with people (the concern). The goal was for Joshua to make eye contact seven out of ten times his name was called. The action step to work on was to give Josh a very small candy (M&M) when he did make eye contact when his name was called.

As I held the IEP in my hand I was almost overcome with a terrible feeling of dread. For me, going through the IEP process was one of the hardest things I did in motherhood. Seeing things in writing back then, and now, made me feel like a terrible mom. The meetings left me so disheartened each time because it was like there were so many things wrong with my son.

*Joshua prefers to play alone

*Joshua is unable to tie his shoes

*Joshua does not use pronouns properly

*Joshua uses gestures, not words, to try and state his needs

So I hated (yes, strong word) going to those meetings. I teared up as they pointed out his shortcomings. I sometimes wanted to bang my fist on the table to get their attention and point out what a happy and smart little boy he was.

At the same time though, I had to love our IEP. It set clear direction for the many therapists and teachers in Joshua’s life. It made sure that we were all working on the same things with the same goals in mind.  

There is also such a strong feeling of success and accomplishment when a goal is reached.  

*Joshua has mastered the goal of participation in group discussions

*Joshua has mastered the goal of following verbal directions with one prompt

*Joshua has mastered shoe tying

*Joshua sat in the group’s circle for the entire storytime

I suspect that many parents have love / hate relationships with many things in their children’s lives. Brushing teeth, for example. I know it’s important, and it’s rewarding when you get a thumbs up from the dentist, but it can be such a source of torment on a daily basis.  

Seeing the IEPs got me wondering what love /hate relationships you have in your life related to your children? It could be one that you don’t realize the “love” part until a bit later on like I did.

Pam is the Executive Director of the Orange Effect Foundation. She worked in the marketing field for the past 10 years, serving as Chief Operations Officer for Content Marketing Institute. During that time she found her passion to build and lead amazing teams because of the commitment of the staff at CMI. Pam also helped to create Content Marketing World, an event where over 3500 marketers come together annually to learn and network with the best and brightest. Pam's background is in social work, and she is raising a son with autism so the opportunity to start and direct this nonprofit is a dream come true. She has been a key leader in the CMI Golf for Autism the past 11 years and a champion for many other nonprofit organizations.
  1. Janis Abel

    I loved the kindergarten Joshua; very sweet, smart, and always gave me a hug!