Last year at this time I was preparing for Courtney’s first IEP meeting. I was so nervous about being on the other side of the table. Were they going to give her the label, were they going to place her in the appropriate setting, and most of all was I going hold it together as I sat there for the first time on the other side hearing people talk about my child instead of me talking about another parent’s child? That meeting a year ago went very smooth and we were happy with how it went. Of course it was hard to hear someone finally say the word Autism, but since we were expecting it, it wasn’t the end of the world to hear.
Tomorrow we are meeting to discuss Courtney’s placement next year. We were not happy with what they decided two weeks ago and we are going in with an advocate in hopes that they will come up with a better option. I am having a harder time with this than I did hearing my daughter had Autism a year ago. Research shows that intense instruction at the early ages can be HUGE in the development in a child with autism. Who knows, maybe she will do just fine in the setting they have picked but I’m not ok with just crossing my fingers and hoping it all goes ok when it comes to my daughter’s education.
I think one reason why I’m having such a hard time with this is I am taking it deeper then just my child. It’s not just Courtney’s education, there are other kid’s being effected by this too. Kids whose parent’s may not realize that they have the right to argue if they are not happy. The changes being made in Courtney’s district is because of a state initiative that is out there to increase the amount of student’s in an inclusion type setting. Which means there are kids all over the state of Illinois losing out on their appropriate education. That makes me so sad and angry! If I could, I would take on the state!
I hear all the time that Courtney is so lucky to have me as a mom. I’m assuming what a lot of people mean by that is she is lucky because she has a mom who is not only an educator, but I teach children just like her. The truth is, I am the lucky one. I am so lucky to have her. She has taught me so much. From very early on in her life, she has showed me that I am a strong person. She has taught me how to speak up for what I believe is right. She has given me a voice I never knew I had. From spending hours upon hours, rocking her as she screamed through her colicky phase, the endless fights with her dad when trying to decide if she should wear a helmet to correct her head shape, then convincing family members that her speech delays weren’t just speech delays it was Autism, to now being strong enough to fight for the education she deserves. She’s taught me patience, she’s taught me that love truly needs no words. She is giving me the courage to get through tomorrow’s big meeting.