When we last left off, our main character, Luke Inwood, had just been diagnosed with ADHD. He was working this like nobody’s business and had suddenly developed a *bouncing leg* because… you know… he had ADHD and couldn’t stop himself. 🙂 This both amused me and irritated me and it’s one of the reasons I don’t like labels. Give a person a label and he or she is sure to live up to it.
What WAS true was that Luke was still not doing well at school. It was the middle of Grade 10 and it was obvious that this year was going to go down in flames if steps weren’t taken to help Luke out. What that might look like I had no idea, but Luke’s therapist, prior to leaving the practice, had suggested something called ASR or Academic Support. This was a class where students were pulled out to work on organizational skills, homework completion, and any other intervention activities that might need one-on-one or small group support. I thought this sounded like a game changer for Luke because all the zeros he was accumulating around homework were impacting his grades in a way that he could never recover from.
So I inquired about the ASR and found out you have to have an IEP to qualify for this accommodation. So THEN I started asking about getting Luke on an IEP. An IEP is an Individualized Education Program. They can be put in place for any number of reasons – learning disabilities or physical disabilities, for example – and the goal is to provide the needed support to allow students to access the curriculum in a way they would not be able to without the accommodations. Logan had an IEP in elementary school for speech therapy so I was not new to the process. But Logan on an IEP for speech and Luke on an IEP for whatever the heck we want to call what was happening at High School were not the same thing. At Logan’s IEP meetings we would sit around the table and talk about how sweet and wonderful and hard working he was. It was more of a formality or update on his progress. This was not the case for Luke.
By the time the required testing and reports had been completed it was March when we got together for Luke’s initial meeting. I remember gathering my thoughts prior to going in and all I really wanted them to know was Luke was not making adequate progress and we, as his parents, had no idea how to fix it. Luke was on a 504 for his diagnosis of ADHD, but those accommodations like preferential seating, for example, were clearly not doing the trick. It was just not enough and as I sat at the long conference table that day, I desperately hoped that one of them, someone, could help my child. What I needed was a gosh darn miracle.
So here’s what I need you to know: It is not easy to be the parent of a child struggling in school. We just want our kids to be happy, to be like all the other kids coming to school every day and having a great experience, and yet they are not. So when we show up at those IEP meetings, we are looking to you, as the educators, as the team of professionals, to give us a little hope. We, more than anyone else, know what the *challenges* are with our kiddos; we are looking to you and that IEP to help make things just a little more *right*. Turns out an IEP is not a miracle cure, but more on that next time. Sending love to all my fellow IEP families. Xxx