The third and final (and possibly most difficult) issue…
I’M TIRED OF BEING DIFFERENT
Please be patient with me – I’m going to try to be as PC as possible. It’s about the nature of middle school…
I’ve already explained my disdain for the ‘high-functioning’ label of Tucker’s version of autism, but in this case it is important. Tucker is caught.
He walks into the special education room, he looks around. He knows he is not like the other students in this room. He cares for them – but he knows his needs are far different than theirs.
He walks into his general education room, he looks around. He knows he is not like the other students in this room. He cares for them – but he knows his needs are far different than theirs.
He does not want to have an IEP anymore – he feels like that is the thing that puts him in the middle of those two groups – it prevents him from really ‘fitting.’ I refuse to give in – we have come so far. We have come from OT, PT, emotional, social, and academic goals in nearly every area to having a couple behavioral goals. Long ago, my goal was to carefully, methodically reduce the amount of goals – but never do away with the supports.
Why? First, because in the ‘real world’ he won’t have the supports. He’ll always have his family – but he has to learn. He must learn how to accept help, he must learn to control his outbursts. He has come SO far…but that IEP….well, it’s our safety net. The thought of going ‘backward’ gives me 35 week pregnancy-level heartburn.
I understand him – I get it – but how do we convince him that he’s not THAT unique without taking away his uniqueness. Ugh…
We’re going to attempt to ‘normalize’ the IEP and 504’s. He doesn’t like to be singled out.
For instance, he has significant issues with accepting help from others. The major problem is that he doesn’t notice other students receiving help from teachers – so when teachers help him he assumes it’s because he’s ‘dumb.’ Well, that’s not the case at all – but when you spend your life in the middle I understand how he could feel that way.
In helping him to try to understand that there are LOTS of students who receive extra help and accommodations we contacted our school district’s special education coordinator. We asked for some statistics to share with him.
- There are ____ students in the middle school who have IEP goals or 504 plans.
- There are ____ students in the middle school. ___% of them have IEP goals or 504 plans
- There are _____7th graders who have IEP goals or 504 plans
- There are ____ students in the 7th grade ___% of them have IEP goals or 504 plans
- The goals on IEP’s and modifications on 504 plans range in need: (provide some goals from other student’s plans…of course without names)
How did the Special Education Coordinator react to our request for help? She replied, “For sure…here you go.” We’re waiting for the time to share these statistics with him – it will most likely happen on a ‘down’ day where he’s trying to navigate being in the middle.
There you have it – the result of a 61 day journey of “thinking, talking, researching, thinking, talking, and praying.” It feels good in my gut – and that’s usually a good sign – but only time will tell.
No worries…I’ll let you know how it all goes!