Getting Ready for Lily’s IEP Meeting (Individual Educational Plan)

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Getting ready for Lily’s IEP takes place twice a year.  Lily is a hospital home-bound student for Broward County.  At the IEP meeting, academic, physical and social goals for Lily are discussed for the school year. Her teacher and 3 therapists will be present or via telephone.  Consultants for vision and Deaf and Hard of Hearing will be present.  The ESE specialist for her home school will document the meeting and spearhead the discussions.  The ESE specialist for the Hospital Home-bound program will be via telephone. Our  Family Councilor will be there.  Although I am an educator and Lily’s professional mother, the IEP is always somewhat stressful.  At this meeting there are an average of 10 school board employees whose job is to assure Lily has her academic needs met.  Each one has a specific role and opinion in reference to what is best for Lily as far as her schooling is concerned.  Ultimately parents have the last say on what should be addressed and implemented during the school day. I say this to all the parents out there who go through the same meetings and advocate for their special needs child.  In the past I have gone to the meetings with an advocate.  An advocate is someone who goes to IEPs on a professional basis to support parents in the decisions made during the meeting.  For parents, the IEP is emotional and having someone with you is important.  Someone to offer a smile, a shoulder to lean on, to give you an orientation on how the meeting will be run and how to go about advocating for your child best.  These days, I have attended on my own.  Today I have invited a dear friend to come with me.  At this point, I know most of the professionals who come in contact with Lily or with her file.  After 4 years of IEP meetings, it’s time to celebrate Lily’s accomplishments, how far she has come, what we expect from her this year and have a meeting among peers.  I feel I am truly part of the team now, that I know almost everyone around the round table.  This year I have prepared a special slide show of Lily’s summer vacation to share with everyone and some light refreshments.  I would like to show my appreciation to everyone who comes in contact with our daughter and is genuinely concerned for her well being and intellectual stimulation.  With a child as complex as Lily, her file is lengthy, complex, unique, just as she is.  I will be strong when we discuss everything Lily needs help with, is not able to do, what we would like her to accomplish this year.  I will smile and know how far she has come and try to transmit this.  I will be proud to be a mother with an exceptional special needs child.  I will share glances and smiles with the professionals who support Lily and our family in giving her the best life. I will show my face and be strong and proud.  Lily, thank you for this opportunity to support you and be there for you.  I do this with all my love, the best I can so you continue to have the best life we can give you, together. 

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