Friday, May 14, 2010
My three sons are strong, smart, driven, funny and flash smiles that melt my heart. As I remind them they are my "gift from God", "special angel" and "sunshine", they light up with pride. They know my unconditional love and acceptance of who they are....they love this, they need this, they deserve this. I deserve to see them through eyes of positivity and possibilities. They are my heroes.

Today, I follow the rules as I attend an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting. Tearing away the curtain on one of my son's life of private suffering, I'm called upon to illuminate every problem in my own child. The battery of generic assessment tests won't expose every weakness, every challenge, every isolating detail of my beautiful child. With heartbreaking clarity and detail, my words of limitations and inabilities paint his portrait in the room.

Still, I fear he might be sent to a world beyond his coping abilities. He feels so very small and frail to me as I imagine him dropped into a whirlwind of unpredictable lights, sounds and motion. So, I turn a spotlight harshly on each true incapacity, as I spill the rest of his dignity, to the ground.I.E.P. Individualized Educational Plan, now an acronym for Illuminate Every Problem, I feel I sell out my son's dignity. There's no comfort knowing it's in the name of accessing that which is essential. Disloyally reducing his image to a list of disability based challenges, I try to not hear my own words.
No parent should ever have to persuade others to see how poorly equipped their child is to access common pleasures of a typical day in the realworld. I'm sitting on a campus of so many included students and I wonder sadly, what kind of a parent fights to have their child excluded? I just did.

I've fought for services, placements and support in these Individual Educational Plan meetings(I.E.P.). Worst fears openly bleeding out as I (I)lluminate (E)very (P)roblem hoping for help to ease my sons' struggles, by speaking truths that leave me so heavy hearted. I grieve anew for my children after such I.E.P. meetings...momentarily overwhelmed by the chasm between what could have been, and what is.

Now, alone in my car and watching typical scenes, in a typical world, I allow myself one moment to cry. My role right now is to reclaim my sons as the gift they are. Their window to this world allows them to see details and angles many will never have the privilege to share. They're often beautifully stunning with their "take on the world". I'm blessed to be in their life. In this IEP meeting, my role became Illuminating Every Problem. I've done all I can with the system in place and I have been of service to my child. Tomorrow, the system might change but, today my perspective remains- my sons are exceptional and unique. They are deserving of better than this system that makes already challenged and grieving families shout the painfully unspeakable. They deserve an IEP that Illuminates Every Possibility because they are endless.


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