Because I am a teacher, I have been to many IEP meetings. I’ve sat at the table, expressed concerns, and listened thoughtfully to results and opinions of professionals. However this IEP meeting was different. This time, I sat on the other end of the table. I knew my own child needed speech therapy and I was ready and willing to put a plan into place to help him.
I will admit, it was humbling being on the other end of that table. Being there as a parent gave me a perspective I’d considered, but never truly felt. Oh, so this is what it feels like to hear from a professional that your child needs help beyond the classroom. Even if you’re prepared for it, it stings. It just does.
Although I could take all the classes and workshops in the world, it’s little moments like these that make me a better teacher.
I have talked to parents who are absolutely horrified at the suggestion their child needing any type of outside therapy or help. Why? It’s because there’s a stigma that surrounds the word “therapy” and the thought of needing extra support with something. If you need therapy of any kind, even as an adult, you must be broken somehow. The truth is that our children aren’t broken. They are beautiful, developing beings who are all different. Some need social-emotional support, some need extra help with math, some need physical therapy, and others need help holding a pencil. Some children may not need any help at all right now, but don’t be naïve in thinking they won’t later as the teen and young adult years creep up. Even the world’s most wonderful adults need support as life ebbs and flows.
If you suspect your child needs help with something, start looking now. If there are language or milestone delays, look into what kind of evaluation your insurance covers. Although children can bloom in their own ways and time, early intervention has proven successful time and time again.
Reach out to others. Don’t be afraid to open up to your child’s teacher or your mom friends and ask questions. Chances are, we’ve all been there (maybe as both a parent and a teacher, like me). Word of mouth recommendations are really valuable when it comes to our children.
Don’t be afraid. As a teacher, I’ve seen some of my best students “graduate” from physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy with confidence and pride.