As I sat at the last IEP meeting for this school year, discussing, finalizing and making sure my child's next school year is going to one that is supported and sound, I couldn't help but reminisce about how things used to be. I do this every year. I always try to make a point to talk about how this child started out in this wonderful world of Autism. I go back into the recesses of my brain to get back to the time when everything was a fight. Where as a parent, I looked at my child and wonder why people didn't want to help. Its funny, as it would have not taken much to get the ball rolling for this child. What was a consult to a specialist going to be worth just to set my mind at ease. That I wasn't going crazy and there was something going on with this child.
As I am listening to my child's SpEd teacher go over the demographics of the IEP, I am remembering a time when I was begging and pleading with my child's Doctor, just to get something. I honestly didn't care if it was a referral to a Gastrointestinal Doctor. I honestly felt that my maternal instincts had been ignored. I remember throwing myself at this Doctor's mercy just to give me something. It took a year for this doctor to finally refer me to someone. Rather out of compassion, but annoyance, we got in to see a speech therapist. Finally something. From there we were put in touch to a developmental pediatrician. That is when we got the diagnosis. I knew what it was going to be. Intellectually, I accepted it. But my heart refused. From there we were put into a shitty school system, a psychiatrist that seemed to be crazier than a bag of hammers and wonderful world of judgement and ignorance.
I am flipping through the IEP, remembering where this child was when she started school. A 3 1/2 year non verbal, un potty trained shy child. One who hated loud noises and crowded areas. A child that would scream bloody murder when we had to go to the commissary. Or not play with the other children, because she didn't know how to. A child that was so scared of water, bathing was almost impossible. I remember sitting at my first IEP meeting, not knowing what to expect. It wasn't until her second that I wised up. I didn't let them bowl me over.
Looking at the part on whether or not this child qualifies ESY, I remember those summers where we couldn't do a lot because of this child's needs. The fear of water or fireworks. Unknown places and faces would set this child off.And of course there were the people who didn't get it. The ones who thought it was funny that this child flapped their arms wildly or the ones who thought this child needed to suck it up when it came to things they feared.
I remember all of this, as it is important to look back at your children's progress. Whether it be leaps and bounds or small baby steps. I look at this child's IEP as way to remember the struggle they once had. Sure it is always going to be a fight, but it shows you the strength these children have. It shows when faced with a challenge they face it head on and prove to the world that they are fighters. Along the way they are going to have a lot of people in their corner cheering or sometimes its just a few. But either way you are going to be that constant cheerleader.
I have three kids, that all have IEPs.This is just the story of one of them. And each time I am sitting at their IEP meetings, I look back at where these children were. Through the times where they struggled and the times where they triumphed. I know that as long as the equation is right, these children will continue to grow and prosper in the own time. And when they peak, watch out world.