We could all use more good news these days, and what better way to lift each other’s spirits than by sharing our parenting victories, large and small! Whether these wins are personal or on a local, national, or worldwide scale, we want to hear ’em — share your stories with us here

This week, we’re celebrating Leeza and her family having a successful IEP meeting, writing strong goals for her son, and getting him the extra service minutes he needs! 

Leeza (left) and her son (center) and husband (right)

Tell us about your child — what’s your favorite thing about them?
T is such a kind, curious kiddo. He loves being active and learning new things. 
Tell us about the challenge you’ve been working through on behalf of your child.
We recently had our annual IEP meeting. We have been struggling to get the school district on the same page with us for a couple of years now. Although I am very diligent about keeping our school team (OT, speech, and teacher) and private team (OT, speech, ABA, and dietitian) updated and in the loop, the school team has been very "blinded" by the IEP goals and is not open to hearing anything outside of those goals, even if it may impact T's ability to meet them. About two weeks prior to the IEP meeting, I asked each team member to provide me with their proposed goals. I then sent those goals to everyone on our private team for feedback. I provided all that feedback to the IEP team and came from a place of wanting to collaborate. Three days prior to the IEP meeting, I sent a summary email of all the proposed goal changes and then all of my questions and notes. Some of my "asks" were a bit lofty, but the answer is always "no" unless you ask. Needless to say, the IEP team really appreciated having all my notes and comments in advance, in addition to T's private team's notes on the goals. It turned out to be a two-part meeting because there was so much discussion, but I believe that was due to the IEP team being able to prepare in advance and come with their own feedback and responses. We had some really great dialogue, and I felt that the team finally saw that I know my child and what works/what doesn't, and that I'm not just this pushy mom.
What was the outcome of your advocacy for your child?
At the end of the IEP meeting, I was able to get my son a second 1:1 OT session each week in his IEP, along with more 1:1 time with speech. T has struggled the most with speech, and last week they started his new IEP goals and guess what — he CRUSHED it!! 
Did you and/or your child have to stop focusing on other areas of life, work, or school in order to tackle this challenge?
I didn't have to stop focusing on other areas, just because that's not an option. As the primary caregiver for my son and as a full-time employee working from home, it is my daily routine to balance his virtual school, therapies, and somehow also fit in a 50+ hour work week. I know that working through challenges like these are only temporary, so if it means staying up late to get some work done or prep for the IEP meeting, then I am okay with that. 
What did you learn from tackling this challenge?
That it's possible to have an IEP meeting and not cry afterwards! LOL. I think I found out that in my situation, providing my comments and feedback in advance really helped. I always have a lot to say and tons of questions, so not only did communicating my thoughts in advance help the team know where I would be going with the meeting, but I was also able to organize my own thoughts so I could be sure to get everything addressed during the meeting. I printed a copy of my email that I'd sent the IEP team and marked things off as we discussed them. 
What advice do you have to pass on to other parents tackling a tough challenge for their child?
Be organized. Communicate your thoughts and requests with your IEP team clearly. Keep an open mind. The IEP team only sees your child in the school setting — they may not know what your child is capable of outside of school. They don't know what they don't know. Oh, and chocolate of course! :)
Have you had your annual IEP yet? Check out these great tips from special education attorney Grace Clark on how to write a great post-IEP summary letter! 

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