I felt butterflies in my stomach as I anxiously waited to be called into the conference room; I was nervous about the meeting that was about to take place. For the first time in my career, I was going to be sitting on the other side of the table. I have attended many CSE meetings over my thirteen year educational career, and I have advocated for my students to receive the best possible accommodations to help them succeed. I have fought for my students to get the help they have deserved.
But, this day was different because I was sitting on the parent side of the table. I was advocating for my son who was struggling in every academic area of school. I was fighting to make sure he got the support he would need to help him gain confidence and to be able to work to the best of his ability.
As I sat in the conference room listening to the testing results being read, I thought to myself how difficult it was to be on this side of the table. At that moment, I felt more empathy than ever before for the parents of my students with disabilities. It was hard listening to someone list my son’s disabilities. I kept thinking to myself how school was going to continue to get more challenging…and how frustrated my son would become as the material increased in rigor over the years.
During the meeting, my son’s teachers discussed the problems they had been seeing and offered ways to help support him in the classroom. By the time we were finished, my son was labeled as LD and was given an IEP. I felt satisfied with the solutions that had been discussed, but also a little uneasy about the upcoming year. How would Tyler react to having a special education teacher giving him support in an inclusion classroom? Would he feel different and out of place? Even with those thoughts in my mind, I knew that this was the best option for him. I breathed a sigh of relief knowing that he would be in good hands, and I was a bit hopeful that he would be able to thrive in his 4th grade classroom.
A Little Piece of Advice
Some parents are afraid to have a child tested for a disability because they don’t want to have their child labeled. Every situation is different, and parents have the right to make their own decisions. But, not having a child tested because of the stigma that could be attached is doing a disservice to the child. Yes, an IEP is a label. But, if it helps a child become a better learner, then who cares. An individualized education plan is the best way to help a struggling student prosper and feel good about what they can do…not feel bad about what they can’t do.
Every student can learn, just not on the same day, or in the same way. -George Evans