As a parent of a child with an IEP, I now can say with full conviction that negotiating the labyrinth of special education services for your child is a test of patience, a battle of wills, and most assuredly not for the weak.
And it’s a paradox in the extreme–because though you know your child is not like everyone else–and you have the paperwork and occasionally the prescriptions to prove it–you want him treated as if he were. And as you seek out accommodations to help your child be successful, as a parent you are acutely aware that doing so may very likely set him apart.
The path before you is unknown: Though there have been students with stories similar to your child’s, there is no one exactly like your child. So, you listen. You take notes. And often you take the suggestions of the dedicated professionals whose judgment you have to trust. They’ve been there before–with someone else’s son or daughter. You believe they know, that they have the foresight you lack, so you listen–even if the suggestions contradict your own parental instincts.
But there comes a point in a parent of a special education student’s life when you have to silence the advice of the professionals, look into your child’s eyes and heart, and remind yourself that more than anyone you know your child–what he needs at this moment–and that there exists an unassailable connection that gives you the power you may have thought eluded you.
So, you forge a new path for your child–perhaps not the suggested path but the one in your heart and in your mind you believe to be best.
And you hold your breath and hope as you embark on this road less travelled you are doing the right thing.