Today is a bittersweet day. Today is my son’s annual IEP meeting/3-year evaluation. It’s our last at his current school. I am early for the meeting since I had to get the boys to school on time, so here I sit in my car, pondering what will happen during the meeting.
I always go into these meetings with a sense of hope, a hope that I will hear that my son has made extraordinary progress. I’ve seen great progress this year, as I often do. I see a beautiful boy who is compassionate and passionate about Boston sports. I see a boy who still likes to give me hugs at age 11, who still feels that his younger brother is his best friend.
Yet what I hear during these meetings is how far behind my son still is. I hear how his reading level is many grade levels behind and who can’t handle math at his current grade level without extra tools. I know the special education team sees progress, but I can’t seem to hear it when the meeting is filled with talk of all that my son can’t do. It’s a harsh reality that I’m aware of, but it’s hard to hear.
These meetings are draining. Who wants to look at their children as IQ scores, numbers pertaining to whatever reading benchmark the school is using this year, and math levels that just really aren’t attainable yet?
We do so much to try to help our son reach his goals and this year he’s met most of them. Awesome, right? Yes, it is. But soon I get to be reminded that he’s not “typical” and that he’s behind his peers.
My hope is that one day I’ll be able to come out of one of these meetings without a sense of being emotionally beaten up. Every meeting leaves a little scar.
**Update: The meeting went as well as to be expected. It was filled with data and analysis about my son’s most recent testing, along with funny anecdotes about him, how he handled the testing, how he performs in school outside of the testing situations and how he’s a wonderful boy who’s polite and has made nice progress. As my wonderful husband pointed out, we do need this information and it is an important part of who our son is, but it’s still hard to hear. It’s still draining to hear so many negatives about our son in a 2+ hour time frame when, as a mother, I would love to focus just on the wonderful pieces and forget that there are the tougher parts of the autism puzzle.