(Written: March 27, 2018)
If you’ve read my prior note, you know I just had a big win which was quickly followed by a huge crash when my win broke my son’s heart. That was a very difficult evening with a lot of tears shed by both my son and I.
Late that same night I sent an email, requesting that something, anything be done, just to make my son happy. I had no pride to swallow and I was not too high and mighty to eat crow. All I am, at the beginning and end of every day, is a parent, doing what I can for my child, to protect his rights, to give him what he’s legally entitled to.
The adjustments made to the IEP were to go into place on Monday (yesterday); so my son’s request for changes were rather urgent. The school team recognized this and were quick to respond, requesting another ARD to address his concerns, for first thing Monday (yesterday) morning.
The rules for ARD allow the child, regardless of age, to be a member of the committee. Typically this happens when the child is a bit older, like Junior High or High School, but I was going to avail myself of the rules in place if my son wanted to speak on his behalf. I felt his voice needed to be heard in this process, after all he was the one asking for the change.
I sat down with him and asked him if he wanted to speak for himself, to tell us adults what he wanted for his education, what he felt he needed to be successful. I told him it would take some grown up courage, but he was the one with dyslexia and he had the right to tell us what he wanted. He got this big smile on his face, stood up a little straighter and said yes, he wanted to come to the meeting and speak for himself. I applauded his courage and told him, like I always do, just how proud I am of him.
So from Wednesday through Sunday, my son was all ready to speak for himself. I kept telling him that I didn’t have an agenda, other than to ask the committee to make him happy, and that I couldn’t promise him that I could fix what I had done, as he had requested. He seemed to appreciate my honesty and said he understood, he just wanted me to try.
That big grown up bravery lasted all the way to the front doors of the school on Monday morning, where he stopped cold and said, “Mom, I don’t want to do it. I can’t do it. You do it.” I asked him if he was sure and he said yes. We had to wait a long time for them to call me back to the meeting, and I gave him several chances to change his mind, but he held firm. Finally he put his arms around my neck and whispered in my ear “Go win, Mom!” I reminded him one last time that I was there for him, for his request, and that I couldn’t promise anything, that all I could do was ask for him and see what they would say. He whispered that he knew, and he would accept whatever happened.
I went into the meeting, hat in hand, thanking them for meeting again and we began.
They thanked me for making them aware of my son’s feelings. I apologized for pushing a point, just to have it blow up with my son and that requesting this change / this rebalancing after pushing as hard as I had for the modifications I had received just a few days prior, was one of the most difficult requests I had made to date.
The team continued to express gratitude that my son had been verbal about what he wanted, how proud they were of him, and that everyone was there to support him and ensure, like I was, that he was happy and would do well. They made proposals that were more than satisfactory, that gave both my son and I what we were after, that kept the original team intact, and added one additional teacher to the equation. My son would get to keep his beloved teacher and friends, I would get to keep the fidelity for which I had fought so hard. To cap it off, this wouldn’t just be through the end of the school year, but at least until his annual ARD where we would revisit, but the plan at this time was to keep this team intact for the rest of his need for remediation.
I was overjoyed at the earnestness of the team to keep all parties happy. We mutually agreed to pull my son into the meeting at that time, so they sent for him. He came in quite nervous, after all this is the big scary school office where only bad kids get sent, so there was some hustle at the last second of, “Should a bunch of us leave for a few minutes so he’s not scared?”
In the end all stayed, he met his new teacher, and he was informed of what would happen. He was very happy with the news and in the end, relieved to be sent back to class. Before he left his teacher made him give me a hug (he’s not big on hugging mom in public) and he whispered in my ear that this made him very happy. Everyone there went “aww” and he left with bright red cheeks, but very happy with life.
I thanked them profusely and we signed all of the paperwork.
In this dyslexia journey, so many parents fight against rejections and denials that are lodged in, among the plethora of poor reasons, a long standing history of denial and a lack of knowledge about dyslexia. It isn’t often that positive stories emerge. My own journey has jaded me. The lies I’ve been told and the circuitous path I’ve had to take to get here and the reasons for having to take that path has made me jaded. I honestly didn’t expect much from my team, but I had hope. In the end they proved to me that they do care, and care a lot. The amount of time they had devoted, in the short window between ARDs to brainstorm how to make this work, was quite telling. They didn’t take this lightly and wanted to make this work. This doesn’t mean that I will underestimate them from a tactic or negotiation point of view, but what it does do is restore my faith, at least for today, for this school, for this team, that they are invested in my son’s success.
I am grateful for my team.
I am grateful for having my faith restored.