This morning we went to Em’s IEP meeting… with Emma. I wrote about this ‘here‘ last week. It was the first time we’ve done this and while Em chose not to add any goals when asked at several points during the meeting, she did express interest in speaking with me during our typing session together, later. So I intend to talk with her about what was covered and see what she might like to add or discuss. Most importantly, she was there to witness and hear the thoughts others have regarding her academic goals for the coming year.
At one point she began parroting every word I said. It was like being in an echo chamber. I looked over at her and it reminded me of when I was a kid and my siblings and I would do this to make each other laugh. I do not believe this was the reason Em was doing this however. Both Richard and I felt she was trying hard to show that she was listening and an active participant. A few times when one of us directly asked her whether she agreed or had anything to add she scripted, “Bertie kitty! You have to get off the table.” Or some other equally, (seemingly) unrelated script about my old cat who died five years ago. I kept reminding myself that Em’s language default is a set of scripts. The scripts may or may not be related to the conversation, but are most definitely an indication of intent and interest in being part of the conversation.
For almost an hour Em sat in her favorite chair during the meeting. Not once did she try to get up and go somewhere else. Not once did she indicate she wanted to leave. Not once did she say anything to show upset or stress. I was proud of her. And I was glad she was there, not because she added any specific goals to the IEP, she did not, but because she was present and witness to a conversation regarding the coming year’s goals for her. And her presence matters and changes the conversation, even if just slightly, it makes a difference. As Richard and I continue to move forward in our journey to give our daughter the tools she needs to help us help her, this is an important first step. I had no expectations going into this meeting regarding her input. I had no idea what would happen or if she would want to leave. All I knew was that I gave her the choice to come or to stay with her class and she asked to be present. So she was and for that I am very grateful.
More will be revealed…