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IEP Meetings

If you are a parent of a child in school and that child has a special need, you have experienced the IEP – Individual Education Plan - meeting. Endless information about IEP documents and meetings can be found at conferences and in magazines, books and websites. Unfortunately, there are many horror stories about IEPs. Anxiety, fear and dread would probably be on most people’s list of how they feel about the meeting. I do not love the IEP meeting, but I do not dread them anymore either. I believe that this meeting can be successful – meaning your child’s educational goals are met with little stress and anxiety. These suggestions are based on what I’ve learned from researching and participating in IEP meetings for the past three years. Bring Food. Donuts, muffins, cookies and juice and/or coffee make friends. Food puts everyone in a good mood, and it makes the atmosphere less tense. And in some cases, it may serve a very practical purpose - teachers and other school staff do no


Ryan and I spent two nights away a few weekends ago – without the boys. We had not done that in two years, and even then, I was 7 months pregnant, so technically we were not alone. We were giddy like school girls (to steal a saying from Ryan), so giddy that we got lost on interstate 77 for at least an hour (that’s what we are willing to admit.) We were headed for Ohio and almost made it to SC. In our defense, we were talking and laughing and relishing in the fact that no one was seated behind us in the minivan. One thing that we discussed was how calm and at ease we were with each other, so calm we never paid attention to which direction we needed to go when we left the gas station. We were together for nine years before we ever had children – so we had a lot of time alone, and I know we never stopped to appreciate it. Nor could we have. When I see couples who are about to have a baby, I want to say, “Go out, spend time alone with each other. It will be years before you will have


We have three boys – Ben (6), Logan (4) and Sean (1 ½). As probably any parents do, we are always amazed at how different they are from each other. But more than that, I have been shocked at the relationships they have formed with one another, but especially with Ben. The dynamics that I would expect between three typical boys are present in our house. Even though Ben is different, his brothers treat him the same. My favorite story is about how Logan at the age of two made sure that Ben was not overlooked. I took Logan and Ben to the doctor. As many doctors do, if you are good, you receive a sticker. After both boys were examined, the doctor returned with one sticker for Logan. Logan asked the doctor where was Ben’s sticker. The doctor responded that Ben would eat his sticker. Logan told the doctor that we would put it on Ben’s back. Realizing he had been outwitted by a two year old, the doctor quickly went out and returned with a sticker for Ben. I have been surprised by the way