How to donate

Make tax-deductible checks payable to: Help Hope Live, with "In honor of Cash Burnaman" in the memo section

Mail to: Help Hope Live, 150 N. Radnor Chester Road, Suite F-120, Radnor, PA 19087

For credit card donations, please call 800-642-8399 or visit (enter Cash Burnaman into the Find a Patient field.)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Ick Eww Phoo

Ugh, what an awful day. The big awfulness, among quite a few minor and moderate awfulnesses, was an IEP (Individual Education Plan) meeting at Cash's school. I remember Cash's first IEP in Aspen - I was worried sick that his teachers and therapists would spend the whole time telling me how "un-normal" he was. But instead, we started the meeting by listing Cash's strengths and it proceeded on to discussing what we wanted to work on and how they could help Cash. After 3 years of working with Cash's Aspen Elementary team, I didn't dread IEPs at all and looked forward to them as a chance to check in with all his therapists.

Today was not like that.

The IEP meeting here in Greenville last fall was hard - they operate very differently here, and I felt like Cash was just another special needs kid - but I have appreciated his teachers' and therapists' expertise over the year. I mentioned a few posts ago that we have become accustomed to the greater resources that are available here compared to Aspen. I still feel that, and I know that his team at school is kind and well-educated and generally does an excellent job with Cash. However, they run a terrible IEP meeting. It is overwhelmingly impersonal and negative. I understand that they have to do alot in a short period of time in order to meet state requirements, but I cannot believe that they could not do it with more sympathy and kindness. I am the parent of a severely special needs kid - I do not need to hear all the ways he is not doing what other kids his age are. I KNOW that. But all the therapy in the world isn't going to make Cash normal, so I need to focus on all his blessings, on all the things he can do. Again, that does not mean that we do not push him and strive, but it does mean that it offends me and hurts me when people act like he is failing. I know school is designed to measure achievement, but frankly Cash gets to opt out of that, in my opinion. He can only be measured against himself.

So not only was the IEP a two-hour list of the things Cash is not doing, but then at the end, I decided to tell the group that there is another way to conduct an IEP, one where you still report on and set goals, but you do it in an encouraging and positive manner. I think the people in that meeting today are truly a smart and thoughtful group of educators who never meant to upset me - hopefully this will encourage them to look at new strategies for doing IEP meetings. I of course got emotional, but I am glad I said it even though it was very hard for me. I can only hope that maybe it makes an IEP easier for some other parent in the future. 

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