Our IEP meeting is today and I have been so relieved thus far to feel and believe everything has been going smoothly. That is, until I read through the report from last week’s play based assessment. It is very well done and thorough and as I read through it again and again, I have to forcibly remind myself how pleased I was with the assessment. Remembering that truth, means that I cannot ignore the nagging thought that I now am privy to one reason why families detest IEP meetings.
The play based assessment had been Amos’ chance to shine and he was perfectly himself which makes the incredibly accurate report that much harder to digest. No matter how I spin it, our child needs an IEP and with that need, rides whole truth. The truth that landed us here is that we have a son, turning three next week, and he is a joy. We adore him, our family and friends and those strangers that beam at his smile and chuckle at his antics. He is lovely. The hard truth is what guides the IEP though and rather than be caught off-guard, I allow findings from an innocently accurate report to wash over me and I think about the path that our life has taken and I weep.
I watched my husband read the dozen pages all about Amos. Of course, I had highlighted sections and subsections and written numerals by those areas surrounding cognitive, social and emotional development. Watching him was like seeing myself read the report, his wounded eyes scanning headings and detailed descriptions or lack of details due to delay in development. Torturous. It’s one thing to acknowledge that our precious son has extra special needs, but it’s quite another to read page after page of infinite dismal details plastered as far as the eye can see. Our greatest fear had been divulged; Amos was quite behind and here it was, typed up neatly on both sides of the sheets of white paper.
It’s just a report. It doesn’t mean anything, my heart tells my mind as I watch Amos play dinosaurs and walk around with a duck puzzle piece saying, “wack, wack, wack.” Fifteen months old, my mind shouts back at my heart and then the tears stream again. Not all 15. Don’t forget about 7, 9, lots of 10’s, 21, 24, even a 41 and a 4. All months and not a one that corresponded with his real age, three years old. I always detested parents using months far too long to describe age and now I had a concrete reason for this aversion. Numbers creating a virtual myriad of development and when I closed my eyes, I was a little girl again, playing with my Lite Bright, placing peg after peg into a smattering of spots marked on a blank sheet of black paper.
Amos is a lovely creation and he is the perfect Amos. He is one of the children that hasn’t come with the pre-marked spaces for pegs and so, we do our best to follow a path that can feel so dominated by the harbingers of darkness. Darkness interspersed with fetches of light and when a beam shines through, we grasp it as a breath of hope that the beautiful landscape of Amos is being unveiled. We fumble with the knowledge that comes in waves and our feeble minds desperately try to make sense of the scattered development. We will read the hard words and the scary numbers, we will go to meetings with our heads held high, we will play chase and cars and pretend to be dinosaurs as long as he likes. We will embrace all the truths and be thankful for the child who has made our world a more perfect circle.