Tuesday, April 2, 2019

The most amazing words I ever heard at an IEP

Yesterday was Max's annual IEP (Individualized Education Program). Fourteen years of doing them makes me a bona fide pro. I know that plan Team Max decides on is not the end-all-and-be-all of his school year because they can always be amended. I expect to hear Good Things about Max's progress. Still, I'm always anxious. Assessing and reflecting on Max's needs is a lot to digest.

I always ask to for a draft of the IEP ahead of time, so I can process it and make requests. This year, I asked for a few more specific goals for occupational therapy, and emphasized that Max needed additional support with math, including homework that was more at his level. 

I'm lucky that Max is at a school where his teachers and therapists truly want him to achieve his best. I'm also lucky that yesterday, his SKIL teacher started the discussion (Max came in later). SKIL stands for Seeking Knowledge for Independent Living, and it's the class where Max is exploring different types of tasks that could someday lead to a job. "He's just a nice young man to be around," she said, mentioning how pleasant Max was. She also noted that he had fierce determination, and would try again and again to get a task right.  

The news was that he was doing a pretty great job of copying and collating, and checking off what had been delivered to classrooms. He sometimes struggled to hold a clipboard and write on it, but he refused help with that and basically everything, insisting that he wanted to do it himself. The principal jumped in to tell a story about the time he spotted Max shooting hoops during an evening program. Max kept going and going, missing the basket. He suggested that Max take a break so his arms wouldn't get tired. But, nope—Max kept at it until he scored. 

The SKIL teacher knows that I have a fair amount of anxiety about what the future holds for Max, and the type of work he might someday do. And she looked at me and said, in the most reassuring way, "You don't have anything to worry about." She noted that Max would eventually find a job match that would be right for him. His sunniness and determination would serve him well.  This woman, who has decades of experience, had all the confidence that Max would find his groove. 

Now, I know logically that things will work out for Max one way or the other, as they always have. And I am fully aware that he has strengths that would be an asset for many types of employment. 


"You don't have anything to worry about."

I really just needed to hear that. 

She congratulated me on parenting Max right. And I was all, "This is how Max has always been. I can't take credit."

I felt happy for the rest of the IEP, even though a few bits still need to be worked out. And I will, of course, continue to have the occasional freakout about Max's future. But those words will be with me. 


  1. Some tangible goals that will help with transition from school to employment... I honestly never thought of these until it was too late, and the school didn't support at all! List out the things that apply to most entry level jobs in your region... here it would be Standard First Aid, WHIMIS (whmis.org, workplace safety, dangers, safe handling of substances etc.), Smart Serve (required for anyone serving alcohol), Food Handling Saftey (most food service jobs want this), Babysitter training, maybe Leadership Skills and start to work on them! These are all the Canadian certifications and courses I can think of but I'm sure there are equivalents where you are.

    So, if First Aid is a useful skill (and let's face it, there is no down side to that!!) then do some online courses, take a class together where Max is just auditing the class, no tests. Take it again! Work towards the written test, with accommodations. Ask your local support organization to hire a consultant to teach the class to young adults with disabilities (we had Community Living run a course). Ms 23 (has down syndrome) didn't pass the final exam so didn't get her First Aid aid officially, but they gave her a certificate of completion and that is now part of her resume.

    I wish I had thought of these before Ms 23 graduated and they would have been part of her IEP!


Thanks for sharing!

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