Saturday, February 09, 2008

IEP, 2008

Individualized Educational Plan. Talk about your 'living documents.'
I've said before, in this context, that I wonder how most of us would measure up to this kind of scrutiny. Experts in their fields, describing your strengths and weaknesses, accomplishments and failures, setting goals for your performance over the next year.
Emma is doing well. As you can see, she is beginning to write letters, and is doing better all the time at writing her first name. After years of tracing, she's heading out onto the wide open spaces of paper and dry-erase boards. She can count to 6. She's learning signs, and using them, and, a couple of weeks ago, put a 3-word sentence together, signing "I Love Ice Cream." Mom thought it was going to be "I Love You," but Emma may have been leading her along on purpose. That's my Emma - likes the surprise, the joke, the 'BOO!"
She's beginning to work with an assistive device for speech, a little bit at school, and seems to like it. She's now being prodded to actually ask for things, rather than pulling someone to what she wants - and she's asking, rather than melting/shutting down. She's gaining strength, can now 'gallop' for many feet (another measurement), and the threshold's been lengthened. She's going to learn how to dribble a ball, here, pretty soon. She's sorting like crazy, and she's more visual than verbal when it comes to colors and identifying like things. Yes, she is. She's got buddies, and gets along really well with the kids at school - loves to participate with everyone. Everybody loves Emma (as far as I'm being told, anyway).
Now, you can look over this list and consider it to be pretty pathetic for an 8-year old. Nope. One of the things that Emma has taught me, that I think Jesus taught over and again, was that our expectations of others need to meet where they are, not where some arbitrary or selfish or theological or social norm labels them as unworthy. Our 'worthiness', our value, exists independently from these things; they are only mechanisms for us to distance ourselves from each other. But I digress. That we take the liberty to do so with the disabled should be a lesson to the normal, but we don't pay attention.
We made a major change with Emma, about 18 months ago, and I think we're just now beginning to see some measurable results. My parental cycle with Emma seems to be that, just when I've given up on something, she surprises. She is determined to take her own path.
I come out of every IEP meeting with two major emotions. One is gratitude for those that are investing themselves into my daughter, and pride in what they say about my Emma, the person. There's no graph, goals, or objective criteria for that, just the way she changes and enriches them. I couldn't be any prouder of her than I am, in those moments.