We are currently preparing for an IEP meeting. Our son will be moving on to Kindergarten in the fall and transitioning out of the preschool special needs program and into a whole new system. Naturally I am nervous about the process since this will mean a larger school, new teachers and a complete change in his routine. Diego has autism and for the foreseeable future will require a separate, special education class to meet his needs. I don’t feel comfortable with professional people who do not really know my son making decisions that will be so important to his educational, emotional and social development. Therefore I am preparing for the meeting by becoming familiar with special needs education, my son’s rights and the new program he will become a part of in the near future.
I felt it would be a good idea to put my thoughts down in an open letter to the board of education officials that will be helping to make the decision on his school placement and the amount and types of therapies he will receive next school year.
To Whom It May Concern:
I realize that with the number of students in the area set to receive special education related services that it can be easy to view our son as just another case number. While the progress reports, last year’s IEP and the new evaluations you have in his file are very good indicators of Diego’s skills and his progress to this point, we feel that it is our input as his parents that will most likely fill the gaps and answer any questions as to the services he would benefit the most from throughout the upcoming school year. The first instinct for you as the professionals will be to point out that we are unable to objectively view our son’s case because of our strong emotional ties to his education and how every parent that advocates for their child cannot reasonably expect to get everything they want from their school system. That is a fair argument but we as his parents know Diego better than anyone else in the world. We have watched him struggle with his speech, sensory issues and intense fears. Since we have seen the tactics and therapies that have worked well throughout his Early Intervention and preschool years, it is vital that we be treated as equal partners in the design of his Kindergarten program that begins in September of 2011. At the upcoming IEP meeting I know we cannot fully express just how much we have been through with Diego up to this point in his life but we are looking forward to working with you to help mold his educational foundation. If even a fraction of our love, commitment and hope for Diego’s continued progress shows through when we meet then I trust we will be able to come to an agreement to create the plan that benefits our son and ensures his continued success for the future.