Sunday, June 17, 2012

Trying on Shoes

For many years I wrote IEPs and presented to CSEs for my students. Being only on the educator's side, I tried to put myself in the parents' shoes. Choosing my words carefully, I could only imagine how difficult it must be to listen to people talk about your child and where his/her weaknesses lie. I realize, now more than ever, that this was an impossible task. Although you can never walk in someone's exact shoes, walking in a similar pair allows perspective and understanding that can only be achieved through experience. I apologize now for ever thinking I could understand.

I consider myself a knowledgeable and very objective person. Mia has overcome mountains already and continues to climb higher than ever imaginable. I couldn't be more proud of her every achievement that she has had to fight for. At the same time, I am very aware of her social, physical and academic struggles. Too many times, I put my "teacher" hat on and write Mia's IEP in my head. So, how is it that I had such a difficult time reading in black and white what I had already written in my head?

Statements from Mia's Annual Review:
"Mia has been seated in the same spot at the same table for many months for snack time, yet still does not know where she sits. She also needs reminders to put her plate, cup and napkin in the garbage, another routine that has been in place since September.She requires prompting to complete familiar tabletop activities and continues to struggle with familiar classroom routines and the names of her classmates." "Mia presents with a severe delay in her adaptive/self help skills." "Mia is more likely to initiate social interactions with adults than peers...she generally plays "at the edge" of peers...mostly plays parallel." "At times Mia demonstrates difficulty remaining on topic for more than one to two exchanges and it is difficult to follow her train of thought." "Mia demonstrates a severe delay in gross motor skills. Mia continues to have difficulty with skills typically mastered at a younger age." "Mia presents with severe sensory processing delays. These sensory processing issues impact her ability to sit in circle, attend to directions in small and large groups, tolerance for different positions, a variety of noise, increased visual stimuli and acceptance of different touch experiences."

These are just some of the reviews that cut out a piece of my heart as I read them. Now, let me remind you, I was very aware of these delays/issues already. They were not surprises and I agree whole heartily with the review. The more accurate the report, the more likely Mia will receive the assistance she needs. I feel her teachers/therapist did an outstanding job writing this report and they did balance it with a tremendous amount of positives. I just cannot wrap my brain around why it is so much more difficult to read Mia's weaknesses than it is to think them. Is it because someone else sees it and that hurts? Is it because deep down I really don't want my thoughts to be right? Is it because I know what these statements look like in a classroom and how she is struggling? Or is it because black and white just hurts and there is no real explanation? Whatever the reason, it has given me a new perspective that can only come from experience.....from a new pair of shoes!