The last few weeks have been difficult for me. Emotions and uncertainty took away my usual ability to stay upbeat and see the positive. I am in a better place now and able to write a little bit about it to share, with the hope that it will help someone else as well as myself.
Last month, in our son’s IEP meeting, we did a hard thing. Hard things are hard. Sounds so simplistic, but, it is so true.
My husband and I walked into our son’s IEP meeting, knowing that we would be changing our son’s diploma status. We have been struggling with this one for years. We held out as long as we could, in hopes that in the state of Virginia, a change could possibly happen to offer us a different option. That did not happen.
What does this all mean? It means that our son, will not graduate with a diploma, instead, he will have a certificate of completion. With his disability and the struggles he experiences academically, he cannot and most likely would not, ever be able to pass an SOL ( state test). As we sat there and listened to our team tell us he reads at incredible 220+ words a minute and he has mastered some areas in algebra , we also listened to his comprehension level being much lower than an average 16-year-old and listened to him tell us, himself, that he does not like to get an “F-“. ( which my husband wondered, why there even is a minus in an “F”)
There is no middle of the road option, no modified diploma and no diploma for kids that are in this gray area. I struggle with having to make choices for him that I wish he could make. I do not like taking something away from him when there is so much we do not know about his abilities. Yet, at the same time, I am so aware that he cannot conform to the expectations of those on the diploma path. His struggles are real and we have to make the changes needed to meet him where he is at.
One of my biggest upsets with this is that so many students have IEP’s and these allow them a variety of modifications to help achieve success. These modifications make a difference and give hope to those in that gray area. Yet, on this IEP road, with all the varying paths our students take, they are expected to then achieve the SAME ENDING? How and why can that be? I do not have an answer, what I can tell you, is what I have been telling myself every day since our meeting;
He is the same person he was before the meeting, he is the same person now.
He is not less than any of those that we listen to in the planning of their future, we just have to and will continue to find the ways that work best for him. This applies to every one of you reading this with a child that is in the gray area.
This is still hard for me to “talk” about. It is Still a little tough for me to accept and sometimes my frustration with it all makes me very sad. But, As we all know, being a “parent bear” to our babies, nothing will stop us, my voice will be louder, my determination a bit more fierce and we will be learning the options available while holding onto hope for change down the road.
I’ll always have hope.