If I could sum up the one feeling that I've had for the last couple of weeks it would be trepidation. The cause for this feeling is pretty clear to me - we have our first IEP meeting for our daughter in one week. And, while I think I've done quite a bit of preparation work for this meeting I still have a healthy amount of trepidation.
You see, I'm not comfortable with people performing "evaluations" on my child. I think it is unfair to give my child a test that was not designed for children who are deaf and have cerebral palsy. I don't like that they rank her on a scale and assign her skill set a number. I don't like that all the tests they are doing and the written reports that are generated from these assessments will go into some school record and will be the first introduction that a new set of professionals will have to my charismatic daughter.
I do, however, take comfort in the fact that the professionals writing the evaluations for Emma are the same ones that have come to know and love her over the last few years. My fears are also diminished a bit since I have had conversations with each of our early intervention therapists around appropriate goals to include in Emma's IEP. Finally, I am glad that I already set the expectation with the IEP team that I am not interested in a full-time program for my three year old. On this point I will hold firm even thought I have had comments around starting with my desired schedule and then ramping up her hours over time.
I am going into our first IEP meeting with an open mind despite my trepidation. I was fortunate to hear from our state lieutenant governor just yesterday about legislation that was recently enacted to ensure children with disabilities in our state are given every opportunity to live up to their full potential and his call to action for parents to ensure we hold the schools responsible for implementing the law. It is so exciting to know that our state is looking out for our children!
Last week a member of our team said to me that she knows I've done my homework around services available in various school districts and that she thinks I'll be pleasantly surprised with what the school district offers and that I should not go in with my guns blazing and ready for a fight. This comment really got to me because I most certainly am not going into the IEP looking for a fight. I am going to the meeting with much love for my little girl, a well thought out set of goals, and a plan to be a contributing member of the team. But, if this does not happen I am not afraid to do as our lieutenant governor requested and hold our school responsible for ensuring we are doing everything necessary to provide Emma with the supports required to meet her full potential.