Tis the season…
For some people there are four seasons in the year. For parents of children with disabilities we have a fifth season. It’s called IEP season.
An IEP is a lifeline to your child’s education. IEP stands for Individual Education Plan. The IEP has been undergoing some changes in recent years and the role of what inclusion means for all children has been evolving due to very passionate education advocates with very high disability literacy skills.
We live in a social stratification system. That means that our social structure is layered, a hierarchy, like bricks layered to form a wall. The layer you are in, will dictate your access in life. Not everyone has equal access to information, choices, safety, health care, education, relationships, etc. The list is a long one. Social stratification is almost universal, in all cultures. Those who have privileges don’t really notice it. It is weightless. The people who are not part of the privileged layers do feel it. It’s felt every single day. Heavy. Taking up space in society when you are not part of societies cookie cutter pop out shape, can feel like a protest. Advocacy is a part of daily life.
Parents play a key role in their child’s education. Ableism is blended into our society and chasing the dream of true inclusion in the classroom is often a dream that parents spend years chasing. The expectation of inclusion and anti-ableism is changing. Parents and students have had enough of being excluded from the classroom, either physically, mentally or emotionally. The struggles are real. There are wonderful stories out there and there are also horror stories. The pandemic has brought to light the inequities of society even more and the inequities in education are no different. To say this year has been stressful for many families with children who have disabilities is an understatement, while other children have flourished with the adaptive distant learning options.
It starts with the IEP, and in May and June, IEP meetings are all a buzz to review the year. Emotions are high and advocates are in full swing. For those of you who are busy getting ready for this year’s seasonal planning, your advocacy efforts are a puzzle piece of a much larger picture. You may not realize that your individual fight for your child’s rights to access an education, are part of a larger cause. The movement is growing. Anti-ableism is part of the diversity movement, and the movement is building, one IEP meeting at a time.