The IEP Season

(The author for this article is unknown.)

We have the cold season, the flu season and even the holiday season, but no season strikes panic in the hearts of parents of children with special needs like the IEP season. For those who don’t know, IEP season usually runs from late March through early June, but IEP’s can strike at any time.

An IEP is an “Individualized Education Plan” that is made for every student, who qualifies for special Ed services, each year. These insidious stacks of paper can pit teachers against principals, parents against parents and turn grown men into towers of Jell-O. There is no cure for IEP’s, and no research is being done to eradicate this dread affliction. The only thing we parents can do is try to survive.

The following are symptoms of an upcoming IEP. These symptoms will appear at the school level: Excessive testing, prying into your family’s personal life, and a complete breakdown of communication with school officials. A parent will experience: a racing heart, sweaty palms, excessive worry over little things, and a generally sick feeling all over. Advanced symptoms include: extreme paranoia, irrational thoughts of violence or the desire to listen to Yanni CDs while weaving baskets.

As stated before, there is no cure for the IEP, but suggested treatments include: extravagant preparation, including photo murals of your child, charts, graphs, fresh baked goods and an interpretive dance depicting the future you envision for your child. Character references and a complete life history (typed, double spaced, in triplicate) also help. In ordinary circumstances these are usually sufficient. In the more difficult cases, these things are recommended: heavy drinking, antidepressants, and subtle hints that your sanity may be teetering on the very edge.

Yes, you too can make it through the horror of IEP season, if you follow these simple steps: Document what your child needs and why, prepare ideas on how these things can be implemented and if all else fails, rant and rave like a lunatic. Hey, it doesn’t hurt if they are a little afraid of you! Hit men have also proven effective, but are in no way encouraged or approved by this author. (Psst – my husband is Sicilian!)

Before I close, let us pause to offer up a silent prayer for our comrades who have fallen during previous IEP seasons:

“Dear Lord, Help us to remember the parents who have gone before us. Those who have lost their patience, their tempers, and their minds dealing with school bureaucrats who have no idea what we are dealing with or what our children could accomplish given the right kind of encouragement and opportunities. Help us to be better advocates to our own children. Help us to negotiate well, to compromise only when necessary, and to NEVER, EVER give up on what we know is right for our children. Be with us during this IEP and future IEP’s and help us to keep our composure during this trying time. Amen.

Now, let’s go kick some school butt!