I learned a life lesson last Friday, when, once again I attended Beanie’s IEP meeting.
I’ve heard many stories from parents–parents who are “in the business” and parents who are new to education, and special education in particular–about attending IEP meetings. For many, it’s an upsetting process, of coming to terms with reality.
In my case, I’ve always expected it to be that, but it never is. I went through “the steps”, and denial, and all that when we first had Beanie tested for therapy, a year before I signed on the “parent” line of an IEP, for the first time. My only tearful moment, thus far, was after the parent-teacher conference I attended earlier this year, when I mentioned that I wanted the Bean tested for Autism Spectrum Disorder.
But a lot has happened since then. Beanie has learned to read–more than just a couple words. She now eaily navigates her way through pre-primers, and she isn’t even in kindergarten yet! She’s also grown in leaps and bounds with her language development. Two years ago, she tested at the 18 month old level, in language. Now, she chats with us, and asks us questions. She uses the potty.
She still gets fussed over, everywhere we go. It’s still apparent that Beanie is destined to lead a charmed life.
So, her IEP meetings have become somewhat routine. We get through the form, quickly, then we stay and gossip for about an hour afterwards! This meeting was no exception. I got lots of ideas, for activities to try at home, we talked briefly about the upcoming ASD testing, and everyone raved about her progress.
Then, I went back and chatted with her special ed teacher.
“Beanie is different,” she told me, “and it’s not all because of her disability. She won’t grow up to be like everyone else, but we can teach her not to care.”
In Beanie’s case, the teacher asserted, autism is not necessarily a disadvantage, in the long run. In Jelly Bean’s case, it’s brought with it a strong intellect–and she can use that. The few challenges–following social routines and language–are things that she will be able to overcome, or at least cope with. But taking her as a whole–disability and all–one can see that Beanie is someone who will be able to do great things.
And the same thing applies to all of us. What do you see as a weakness? Is there anyway this could actually work to your advantage?
I’ve always considered it a weakness that I am quiet, and at times, slightly naive. But–more than once–this has led to me finding a great deal of support, when things have gotten difficult, or when I’ve been treated unfairly. My introvertedness has also allowed me to gain trust, in one-on-one situations, in ways that more extraverted people can not. Stepping back, and observing things quietly, has allowed me to see more, than those who are always talking can see.