just keep swimming

Well, sprout is; and I think his father and I are, too.

All these months of worrying about the “request for services (IEP) letter”, were for naught.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’d been ignoring (well trying to) the anxiety over the IEP, the meetings and evaluations; but most of all, what’s causing the most anxiety is knowing how smart my son is. Knowing he may take all these supports personally. Seeing himself as different from “all the other kids” is not new to him.

This will be the first time he receives any type of assistive supports; I’m hoping he will see it for exactly what it is; meant to help him succeed in the best possible way, at schooling.

And to be protected from discrimination of any sort under federal law. That’s KEY. Both his father and I must recite that daily.

This work is to protect our son against any type of discrimination. So he doesn’t have to feel picked on, singled out, or as if he will never fit in.

As I did in school. And I think his father did too, but not sure.

I know how much time and effort (and frustration) my parents put into this with my sister.

I see in other areas the difficulties many parents have with school systems and IEP’s and 504’s.

I won’t do that. I won’t look at this like a fight.

This is a positive partnership between the school, us, and our son. To give him the best possible opportunity to learn as successfully as possible.

Last week we went to the open house at the elementary school. Yes, I felt it all. Fortunately, when we pulled in the parking lot, I had let it all go, and was just hopeful.

I won’t go to into detail. Just the summary.

The school seems to fit what we need. What I have prayed and hoped for since before his birth, is coming true.

Thank you, universe.

There are friendly faces, aquariums in each hall. A well stocked library with all the parts and pieces to appeal to the elementary age group. The art room gets lots of natural light, as does the gym. The playground has always been our favorite local one. They call them specialist teachers now, not SPED, or resource room.

There are two parts which stood out; made me realize we can and will succeed at this.

First, my son’s classroom? I was so impressed with each spot I glanced at, from first look where I saw a climbing structure, with a cave like area below. I thought to myself, “he will be on, and in, that multiple times per day!”

He went walking hurriedly (no running – he was trying so hard!) directly towards it, stopping at the bottom of the ladder to ask us if it was okay. He was controlling those impulses. Mental high five, my little man!

There were many shelves, in fact an entire corner of the room, was stocked with building supplies; wooden blocks, legos, gears, magnets… running the width of the room were bookshelves, with, yup, you guessed it, books.

This will be a perfect introduction to school. I cannot wait to meet his teacher, too. 10 days now.

Our tour guide was a wonderful fifth grade girl, who took to sharing with the little man the secrets of the school. I could tell he was loving it. He was so curious; had so many questions. She had all the answers.

Our tour concluded in the lobby; near the main entrance, cafeteria and main office. The three wings of the school met up there; above was a skylight, letting in plenty of natural light. Under the skylight, was a large zen garden.

Little man took his spot with the children already working in the zen garden. He was holding his own. I watched him strike up a conversation with a few of the children. They welcomed him to play; no questions asked.

Again, thank you universe.

As I stood there, quietly observing my son absorbing his new environment, I took a closer look at the walls, noticing the lobby was decorated with inspiring Abraham Lincoln quotes. I found some Maya Angelou mixed in, too.

See, I was gathering courage. After about 10 minutes, watching my son play, and my husband get to know some of the support staff, I decided it was now or never. I let my husband know I had to step into the office to drop some paperwork off for the school nurse.

Upon entering, I was greeted by the secretary; the woman who had already been so helpful with getting us registered; and had also accepted my IEP request letter back in June.

I started to introduce myself, and was met with: “I promise I gave them your letter and all of the testing reports. Are you here for that? I recognized you, Mrs. Lucas. How are you today?”

I greeted her warmly, surprised she remembered and recognized me. “Good morning. I’m actually hoping to confirm where the student services office is. I would like to go introduce myself. And thank you for your assistance with all of that paperwork. Both my husband and I appreciate it.”

Directions received, I went to stand with my husband. Standing there, side by side, watching our son play; getting to know his new home… I felt peace. We made this happen. We dreamed it, and it came true. Words cannot describe the love I felt at that moment. In fact, I think I still am filled with it.

I whispered to him, “May we stop by one more office on our way?” He responded with a sure, and we gathered ourselves. Walking down the hallway, little man noticed an aquarium; and could not turn away. I couldn’t resist.

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We arrived at the office I was looking for. No one was at the desk, but we heard voices carrying from the inner office.

Gathering up my courage, I knocked. I knocked with all the self confidence I wish I had.

Two women came from the office; one of whom recognized my husband and I immediately. She was at, and had hosted the Federation for Children with Special Needs IEP Workshop which we had attended in June.

She started to explain there was not enough time after they received my request, to follow up on it last June. (We were accepted to the school june 8 or so. I hand delivered the letter on the 12th, and school was out 5 days after).

I could sense the tension building… she was thorough in explaining next steps to us; fortunately, both my husband and I were there to hear it.

As she finished up answering my question (which I never had time to ask), I felt a little tug on my shirt. Turning, I saw my son, hiding behind me. He whispered, “Mama, may I say hi?”

Before I could introduce him; the women were all over him. His clothing choice that morning, (a green t-shirt with a big shamrock on it), inspired quite the spirited conversation about Ireland. If there’s one thing that brings little man out of his shell, it’s our family trip to Ireland last spring.

Amazed. I was blown away. I had walked down those two long hallways to arrive in this room, to ask one simple question. Anxiety flared, I became tongue tied, and my little man stepped up, and stepped in, for me.

We did what I had been trying to figure out how to do since June. Well, our son did.

All this anxiety, stress, arguing…. and how did we introduce who he is; as a person, what his soul consists of, how open his heart is?

By letting him speak for himself.

He humanized himself, by introducing himself, and speaking eloquently of his life experience. At least two staff members now know there’s a little boy behind that name on all the paperwork.

I’m off to go study Wrightslaw and IEP information.

Onward. Be well.

One thought on “just keep swimming

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