Awareness Is Lovely But Now It's IEP Day

While I've been making several contributions to Autism Awareness Day/Month -- interviewing the luminous Laura Shumaker for BlogHer, insisting that true autism awareness lies in one understanding: that behavior is communication, musing on what a Radiolab Autism Awareness Day show would be like, and hanging out on CafeMom all month long as one of their autism experts -- tomorrow's going to be a more hands-on kind of autism day.

It's Leo's annual IEP.

And it will be interesting, going into a meeting where everyone is on Leo's side, in which for the first time ever the staff and I corresponded on and brainstormed goals together. During which the staff and I agreed on several wish list items for Leo, like riding a two-wheeled bike, but also agreed not to include the wish list items in the IEP because then the activities will become a data-driven imperatives and Leo may reject them.

In which many services could be permanently stripped because despite Leo's significant needs (even in our large school district, only a handful of kids have non-public-school placements), California's budget is all f'd up, and word on the educational-email-forums-street is that deep, painful cuts are coming. And Leo's an expensive kid.

I'm looking over his goals right now, and they look good. Helpful. Ready to help Leo make a critical transition, one he seems poised to make: to conceptualize and articulate the abstract. His teacher and Supervisor M, who still consults on his program both at school and at home, both have faith in our boy.

The goals will need some fine-tuning to make them air-tight -- the idea being that if the entire class staff disappeared mysteriously, the replacement staff could pick up the goals, look at their current status, and resume implementing them as intended with nary a hiccup.

My chest is tightening as I write this, stupid nerves. At least Leelo could care less about IEPs or awareness campaigns. He spent the weekend being his own happy self: happy to wake us up in the morning by bounding into our bed for snuggles, happy to go to the opening weekend of the farmer's market with his dad, happy to hike along miles of beach with my cousin and me and Mali, happy to play with his iPad and his trains and all the shampoo bottles he's emptied into his tub, happy to try a bit of bacon (!) if followed by a bite of cinnamon toast, happy to let his little sister show him how to play the apps Quibble and Swapsies, and happy to put his head on my shoulder while he watches Teletubbies or Hamtaro two hours past his bedtime. Happy.

The awareness and goals will make a difference Leo's his future, and I'll never stop working on them -- but I truly appreciate the fact that he's happy. Right now. In this very moment.


  1. It makes such a tremendous difference to know your child's entire team is on the same page, doesn't it? Thinking good thoughts for the IEP tomorrow. Thinking even better thoughts about happy Leo in the here and now. THAT is a great gift. :-)

  2. 'Tis the season. Funny that Autism Awareness Day/Month falls during IEP season.

    As Niksmom said, it makes such a huge difference when everyone's on the same team. At SquidBoy's triennial, we had 7 people plus us parents, and it gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling to know that every person in that room was focused on helping my sweet boy.

    Good luck with the IEP; I'm sure everything will go just swell.

  3. Thanks folks. IEP couldn't have gone better. All services intact, improved, and I trust they will be implemented. A good day.

  4. Mazel Tov! That's wonderful news! Not easy considering how bad things are in California. I'm not holding my breath at my daughter's IEP. She's currently in a typical classroom with the support of an NPA behaviorist. I suspect the district will give her a district behaviorist that won't be full-time next year. We'll see!

  5. That's great that his IEP went well. I am so grateful for my son's teachers. His IEP progress report made me weep big tears because *finally* there was improvement.

  6. Happy is a beautiful thing! I thank the stars, gods, clouds etc for my Jackson's innate happiness everyday! It truly is a gift to see him running, jumping and smiling on a regular basis - his pure joy in the moment makes my heart sing. I'm equally thankful for teachers, aides, therapists all on the same page for his IEP meeting . The fact that they are willing to brainstorm WITH me on new strategies to reach those communication goals and wishlist goals is something to hold on to when budgets and district boundaries seem to be against us. Thanks again for your wonderful posts... you are such a delight and inspiration.


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