I really and truly dislike IEP season. I would rather visit the dentist and the GYN at the same time than work on my son's IEP and attend the meeting(s). We started the IEP process in August 2000. We've got 9-1/2 years under our belts. Most of them haven't been pretty. Most of them haven't been successful.
This year included my son's three-year re-evaluation in the IEP process. Bless his heart, he took it seriously and did a good job during the testing. His scores, as usual, show so many strengths and some significant areas of impact. And as usual, his strengths mask the need for intervening with his weaknesses.
I said to the team at one of the re-eval meetings last month that the purpose of special education is to help make him an independent, productive member of the community. I'm not so worried about his academic needs; he has them, but academics are the strength that will pull him through. What concerns me is that he needs to be able to get a job and keep it, to get a girlfriend/wife and keep her, to make friends and keep them. All of the things my son has done this past year that really irritate members of his school team are things that are going to get him fired one day. He needs social skills and executive functioning skills -- two areas that are very difficult to teach and for which school staff are only nominally trained.
This year, I received my son's draft IEP well in advance of the Annual Review. (Since I'm commenting on that, you can figure out that this has not always been the case. In fact, this is a rarity that I can only hope signals a new norm. Even the new law requiring that parents receive the draft at least five days prior to the meeting (effective 7/1/10) works only if most of the parental input has already been given.) The case manager highlighted the changes she made before she gave me the draft, and no one else had gone in and made changes without discussing them with me or notifying me in any way. (Again, since I'm commenting on that, you can figure out that this has not always been the case....)
I've had a follow-up meeting with the case manager -- very collegial -- and have another one scheduled for later this week. I spoke with the OT today, and will speak with the SLP later this week. I will need to review the document from start to finish one last time after those meetings to ensure that no last-minute changes have appeared. (Repeat: Since I'm commenting on that, you can figure out that this has not always been the case....) However, all in all, this has been the quietest pre-annual review I've ever experienced. And that's a good thing.