We had Cole’s IEP today. The IEP is our annual review of educational goals that we, together with Cole’s team (which includes speech therapist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, teachers and school administration), set each year. It’s a bit more involved than that but in general its purpose is to ensure that the necessary services are in place to help facilitate his access to the curriculum and support his needs. All in all today went well and the process was collaborative and informative, with what feel like achievable goals that all, in one way or another, tie to improving and expanding his communication skills, which we feel is vital to his success in school, and in life.

I left the IEP feeling positive and as I drove to work I continued to think about the morning. Despite the process and conclusion of the IEP being positive, it also strangely serves as a reality check. In order for it to be successful and appropriate, we have to accept that some goals from the previous year were not met and that even though we believe that Cole could have, should have achieved them, he did not. There are so many factors that play into his success. Some he can control and some that are out of his hands.

The effort that is required of him to construct even a small sentence or find specific fields in his Tobii (the eye gaze voice output device he uses to “talk”) is considerable and if he’s distracted by a friend or sound or himself, starting over makes the process that much harder and after time, that much less interesting to him.

Motivation seemed to be a running theme. Like most kids, when he has an interest or curiosity he can be quite adept at finding the word or words to communicate. When he’s relaxed and no one is paying too much attention to him, he can quickly find things on his Tobii, or can say actual words. There’s no stress or pressing need. However, when pushed to a task or asked to find specific words or phrases on Tobii, he seems to have trouble focusing, or worse, doesn’t always want to, and therefore does not try.

In addition to highlighting his strengths, the IEP shines light on his weaknesses and brings some of his limitations to the forefront. In our family, we tend to lead with hope. We have instilled the belief that he can do anything he wants to do as long as he tries, or as long as we can figure out a way that works for him. But sometimes we’re reminded that despite our best efforts, despite his best efforts, that may not always be his truth. It’s a hard thing to have to face and accept the realities of a life so young. It’s not always easy to recognize that as amazing as Cole is, there are going to be limits. Limits we intend to stretch and expand as much as possible to ensure that his life is rich and full, and that he’s the best Cole he can be, but limits nonetheless.

That’s when the tears flow…

One Response

  1. Such great insight Cyn. Love your voice. Thanks for sharing. Xo

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