Two weeks ago we bid farewell to T.'s speech therapist extraordinaire, and last week I sat down with T.'s new speech teacher and her homeroom teacher and signed numerous documents setting up an IEP for her to receive speech therapy at school. It was seamless transition, really, from private therapy to free services at school. There had been no haggling over whether or not she could even receive speech at school; they accepted her private therapy evaluation without a second thought, and a few e-mails later we got the paperwork rolling.
I was impressed. T.'s school has been nothing but impressive so far, from the classroom environment, to the organized and efficient carpool line at the end of the day.
I was relieved, too. We'd been worried that all the great progress T. has made over these past 9 months in speech would stall a little in kindergarten. I've said it before, but I had been skeptical about therapies such as speech or occupational therapy before, mainly because L.'s OT appointments had been entirely unproductive, and made us feel we were throwing a weekly $30 co-pay to the wind. But I am a believer in the benefits of speech therapy, I truly am, especially when a child is ready and willing to learn.
I also felt a little deflated to be signing paperwork for a second IEP for the second of my two children; granted, T.'s will be nothing like the tome L.'s IEP has morphed into over the years, but I wondered, there in that room, what it would be like to not have such things in your child's life; to not even know, perhaps, what an IEP even is, or how important it can be, or what a love/hate relationship you might grow to have with it, and how much blood, sweat, and tears can go into one so that it becomes for you the parent, a tangible testimony of so much more than you had wanted it to be: hopes, dreams, struggles, disappointments, triumphs.
But I shook those thoughts away. You do what you have to do, as a parent, to pave the way for your children as best you can, even if it means getting a little help along the way. I'm glad such things as IEPs exist. I don't see them as stigmatizing, or as a dragging-down weight upon a child. An individualized education plan should be something every child has, really, regardless of who they are, and how they learn.
The thank-you/good-bye card T. made for her speech therapist