I sat in my son’s IEP meeting waiting to discuss his kindergarten placement. I’ll be honest, I dreaded the meeting.
I felt like I might need to fight to place my son in gen ed.
I felt like I might need to persuade others that my son deserves the opportunity to go to school at his neighborhood school with his brother and peers.
I felt like my son was being viewed as a collection of test scores and data. You know, like a lab rat.
I wanted to shout:
My son is more than Down syndrome.
My son is more than cognitively impaired.
My son is more than “choose the right letter for three out five trials with 80% accuracy.”
My son loves to play hockey, basketball, baseball, and soccer.
My son loves to sing.
My son loves to look at books and to have someone read to him.
My son likes to pretend to fix his toy cars.
My son can stream music to a wireless speaker or Netflix to a TV. (And I’ve never shown him how.)
My son can follow directions.
My son knows his morning and evening routines and never forgets to brush his teeth.
My son loves to use the self check-out the library.
My son tried skiing in Colorado this spring.
My son will try to wrap you around his finger. (Don’t let him. I don’t.)
My son will make you laugh.
My son will give you a hug when you’re sad.
My son will be a blessing to those around him.
My son will start school in the least restrictive environment possible. If that doesn’t work, we’ll look at our options.
To the parent going through that the same situation; take heart, the meeting may just surprise you in the end.
It turns out, I didn’t need to shout. I didn’t need to be defensive. Our decision was respected, not fought.
And the staff at his new school were more than supportive. In a meeting where I felt like nothing but limitations were presented, his new team seemed to see the potential I did. I felt like they saw more than a collection of data. More than test scores. More than a kid with Down syndrome. They saw my son.