Trust (me) the process (is horrible) very well might be the working title of my book.
I am sure what I am about to write breaks all the rules of relations with your educational team; but I am 12 years into the special education process as a parent and over 40 years old. I simply don't care what anyone thinks of me anymore!
The process of requesting an evaluation or services for your child is absolutely horrible, inefficient and riddled with mystery. Some will attempt to give me advice on the lessening of the horror of the process. I am not interested; unless your advice is a complete overall of the system. Some will assume I am in a terrible school district (I am not. I actually adore most of our teachers!). It seems no matter how amazing, talented and dedicated the team is, the process is still freaking horrible. (And I've been around the block a few times with all this.)
Today, we had a preliminary meeting for one of our children who has been getting help reading for awhile. The reading teacher on the case is one of my favorite teachers of all time. However, her services are not moving the dial on our child's need at a speed that is expected. She's amazing at what she does; but what she does is not the right fit for our kid. No one knows what the right fit is. They've tried some things. It's time to test and make an informed intervention plan.
However, this process is LIKE THE MOST BIZARRE SYSTEM EVER.
This is the logic I'd apply to a work situation--like if no one was opening marketing emails, I'd test out some different subjects lines and send times to see if I could move the dial to get things to open. I'd make a data driven decision; with some of my intuition mixed in. I am empowered to make these changes; in fact my job depends on it.
But this has never been our experience in the special education and IEP world. Instead, there are steps (designed to protect your child, reportedly!), there are repetitive meetings (could have been an email guys!), there is a constant guard of changing people (the old ones still work there but they move on or runaway), there are egos, there are frustrated, impatient people (mostly me), there are barriers to speaking frankly or being frankly spoken to (politics and procedure!) and there are constant procedural and bizarre roadblocks that make it all freaking horrible; even when everything works out in the end.
And friends, I am tired.
I often look at parents who are just starting the educational journey and may have a kid who needs extra-something. I hate being apocalyptic with them, but the truth is this journey is hard. It's hard because you love your child. It's hard because your child's teachers will love them. It's hard because the harder you fight, the more annoying and detestable you are to the educational team. It's hard because if you don't fight hard you are also damned for not being involved enough. It's hard because it is always damned if you do, damned if you don't. It's hard because you know teachers and administrators have hard jobs and you get it--but it is their job and you've got one of your own to manage. It's hard because your kids livelihood is at stake. It's hard because every time an educator tells you to "read more to your child at home," you'd like to actually make your head explode because it is like if a doctor, said "maybe you should just pray it away."
It's hard because the system is needlessly complicated and riddled with chaos and inconsistency.
It's hard because it is horrible.
I don't know the solution. I do know that more people should talk about this outside of my IEP groups on Facebook.
But, for now, for today, I'll just marinate in the horror, feel blessed to know that it will all work out for my kid (remember, great teachers and a pitbull mother) and keep talking about all this, because maybe when we illuminate the problem, we can find a way to solve it.