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Dealing with the stress of school meetings?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I get so stressed before any IEP meeting, even though we have always been exceedingly lucky with the school and have always gotten what the kids need. Yesterday was the meeting to decide if my youngest son qualified for an IEP.  I was a mess reading through all the reports.  They hadn't done one of the assessments I wanted them to do (which they did for me during the day before the meeting!).  The reports hadn't come home on Friday like that were supposed to.  I had numbers and questions and comparisons floating around my brain.  So there were a lot of stressers.  I actually felt sick to my stomach I was so worked up.

 

This is not my first rodeo though!  I've been having IEP meetings since my oldest son was in K.  He's going to highschool next year!  I just don't seem to be able to get rid of that underlying feeling of dread before any of these meetings, even though they have always gone wonderfully.  Does anyone else go through this?  How do you deal with the stress?  I'm just so relieved that I don't have another meeting until next year. PHEW!

post #2 of 9

Do you have a friend or family member you can take with you? A little backup, even just for moral support, can work wonders. Ask your friend to take notes - you never know what you might need a record of in the future, and this will free you to pay attention to what is going on. You are legally entitled to bring anyone you want to these meetings. I brought my then 85 year old mother with me to my first! As a retired educator, she had some genuine expertise to bring to the table, but really it just felt good to have my Mommy there!

 

Remember, this meeting is not make-or-break. Don't sign anything you don't agree with. If your child is denied services, you can appeal. As a family advocate, I go to many IEP meetings every year. My experience is that, almost without exception, schools want to support kids' needs. Within their limits of budget and laws and policies and red tape, they will do whatever is needed to help your child succeed. This doesn't have to be an adversarial process. We all share the real goal.

 

Take a deep breath - it is going to be all right. You wouldn't have called this meeting if there weren't some serious issues you have seen. Even if they don't show up in all the graphs and charts and numbers, your concerns are real. You have enough experience with your older child to know that the "system" can sometimes work in our favor. Just sometimes takes a little prodding. Go in with a cooperative, friendly attitude, and really, it will all be OK.

 

grouphug.gif And if you hit obstacles, we are here for you!

post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamarhu View Post

Do you have a friend or family member you can take with you? A little backup, even just for moral support, can work wonders. Ask your friend to take notes - you never know what you might need a record of in the future, and this will free you to pay attention to what is going on. You are legally entitled to bring anyone you want to these meetings. I brought my then 85 year old mother with me to my first! As a retired educator, she had some genuine expertise to bring to the table, but really it just felt good to have my Mommy there!

 

Remember, this meeting is not make-or-break. Don't sign anything you don't agree with. If your child is denied services, you can appeal. As a family advocate, I go to many IEP meetings every year. My experience is that, almost without exception, schools want to support kids' needs. Within their limits of budget and laws and policies and red tape, they will do whatever is needed to help your child succeed. This doesn't have to be an adversarial process. We all share the real goal.

 

Take a deep breath - it is going to be all right. You wouldn't have called this meeting if there weren't some serious issues you have seen. Even if they don't show up in all the graphs and charts and numbers, your concerns are real. You have enough experience with your older child to know that the "system" can sometimes That work in our favor. Just sometimes takes a little prodding. Go in with a cooperative, friendly attitude, and really, it will all be OK.

 

grouphug.gif And if you hit obstacles, we are here for you!

Thank you for your support!  It went well.  They really seemed to "get" ds3.   He's on a 504 plan now with the idea that they will keep a close eye on him to see how things progress, because it is always possible that his needs will change over the next few years.  Up until now, he is making grade level academic improvments, because he's been able to compensate due to a IQ in the superior range.  But as he starts 4th grade and there is an increase in writing assignments, that may change!  

 

I have two older boys on IEPs, and it always goes well in this school district .  Even if there isn't something on the IEP draft I want, they put it in there.  I'm also am lucky enough to have a sister who is a special ed teacher and special ed department chair, so she's amazingly helpful!  I just wish she was actually here to come with me though.  Sometimes my dh can make it to meetings, and that is helpful, just to have him there, but other times he can't be there .  I think it's the fear that of the possibility of having to make a stink over things, even though I haven't had to in about 9 years and not even at this school district. I swear, I'm just traumatized by the one time I did have to make waves, perhaps a sunami, to get my oldest child what he needed.  It sucked.  

post #4 of 9

I, too, worry myself almost sick when an IEP is coming. I'm a pretty strong person. I can go into other meetings and get down to business or negotiate quite effectively, but this is personal. We're talking about our children's futures! I get so focused on one part that there is always something I regret not focusing on. It's like I lose the ability to think!

 

My husband comes when he can, which is most of the time. This time I asked him to help with a few main priorities, knowing that I am so likely to cave and go with whatever is presented even if it's not what I think is best for my kids (I have two with IEPs). I said if he started to see me agree with X, please remind me that Z is a really big need for our son. Maybe you could make yourself a list of goals you'd like to accomplish in the meeting for the same effect? I wonder if having a list of maybe 3-5 things on paper in front of you would allow you to relax as you check each one off. It sounds like you're having good luck getting your child's needs met, so maybe checking them off would be empowering.

 

Another thing that helped me for this most recent IEP was to remind myself that I, as the parent, am part of the IEP team. It is easy for me to feel like the school professionals are the team and I'm "just" the parent there to hear what they propose. I sort of psyched myself up this time, reminding myself that nobody knows my son better than I do. I am the expert about him. You are the expert about your child.

 

And you must — must — read this blog post before going into your next IEP meeting, "Ways to make your next IEP awesome." I laughed my heiny off.

post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 

Oh my goodness!  I'm peeing my pants laughing! My husband added bring a bottle of tequila and insist that everyone drinks whenever someone uses the word accommodations!

post #6 of 9

DD is 7 and has had an IEP since she turned 3 so we've been doing this for years but I still hate school meetings. My daughter just started seeing a therapist (a social worker) who's experienced in talking with schools and will be attending IEP meetings as part of her services.  So I'm hoping the next one won't be so stressful.  No matter how nice and earnest everyone is,when you get in a room with the IEP team it's a bit like a panel interview: you vs the united front of school personnel.

post #7 of 9

Thank you so much for that link. This rates very high on the Funniest Things I Have Ever Heard list. 

 

Edited to add: My son with Aspergers, who has attended more IEP meetings than we can count, loves it too.


Edited by mamarhu - 6/20/13 at 7:49am
post #8 of 9
Bwahaha, love that link, too funny!

I've been fortunate that we've had mostly good experiences and the teachers involved with my childrens' IEPs have been very helpful and easy to work with. I know that's not always the case and I've had friends who have worked with the exact same team as we have and had very different results with the IEP meetings. My suggestion to them is to bring someone else with to help keep track of what's being discussed and make sure that your own points get brought up. I think that just knowing you have backup and someone "on your side" can do huge wonders for anxiety. I don't know if we can ever eliminate the anxiety though, this is our children's education and well being and we are moms... We worry no matter what, it's what we do. smile.gif
post #9 of 9

I ask for all the reports in writing 3 school days in advance of the meeting.  Then I email each person once I have received the report letting them know if I agree with the report or if I have any changes.  It makes the meetings shorter, and avoids conflicts in the group setting.  I also send in my list of proposed goals/accommodations and changes I would like to see in the IEP at the same time.  It gives them time to discuss, clarify questions, etc.  That way, when we get to the meeting there are no surprises, which makes my stress level much lower.  I let them know that I want to have the time to discuss everything with my DH, so I would prefer the early exchange of info, so we do not have to halt the IEP and continue it at another time.  It has worked really well for me.  I think it helps the staff too since they know what I am thinking before we get to the meeting.  One of my dear friends went into an IEP with the goal of increasing all these services and doing additional testing and the school's IEP plan was to decrease the services.  She ended up leaving the meeting in tears with nothing signed.  I want to avoid that situation.

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