I just got back from Bryce’s first Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting. In case you are not familiar, Bryce is my 3 year old son who has Down syndrome. This was our first foray into the special education maze of the public school system. I was actually quite impressed. For the last two years, Bryce has attended a private therapeutic preschool where we have set bi-annual goals for him as well as receiving Early Intervention Services through the state of Colorado. The private school where Bryce attended set the bar very high. The drive to the school (especially in the snow) as well as the cost of tuition has lead us down the path of public education.
My husband and I along with Bryce and big brother, Braydon (Payton was at school) all headed to the meeting. At the meeting were Bryce’s social worker, a school psychologist, occupational therapist, speech therapist, and Bryce’s special education teacher. That is 7 adults total in one room talking about my little Bryce who is barely the size of a two year old. The team was so great that they took turns playing with Bryce and Braydon while David and I listened to the assessments and the goals. Some of this is really hard to hear. It brings you back down to reality so fast when you hear exactly how delayed your son really is.
In our day to day life, we don’t have to think about his delays as much. Every time I take Bryce to a doctor’s appointment or therapy appointment, I am clearly reminded of what challenges we are facing with Bryce. Usually after any appointment I have with Bryce, it takes so much out of me mentally that it’s about all I do for the day. So, I go in spurts when I can handle going back to the doctor. Right now, for example, is a huge spurt of appointment activity. In two months time we will have seen or have already seen the pediatrician, occupational therapist, speech therapist, dentist, ear-nose and throat doctor, eye doctor, had a swallow study, had a school evaluation and now an IEP meeting.
My husband usually doesn’t accompany me because he is working. He went today. I think it just about destroyed him. He didn’t say much during the meeting and afterwards he could hardly work. He eventually just went outside with Braydon to play some basketball.
After a slap in the face of some reality the thoughts creep back in, what if he had been different? What if Bryce didn’t have Down syndrome? What if he was just a typical kid?
What was your first IEP meeting like? How did it affect you?