autism · confessions · Down syndrome

Ways to make your next IEP awesome.

Even with the best teachers and staff, Individualized Education Plan Meetings are kind of terrible. I’ve spoken about how fun it is to talk about all the crap your kid can’t do, and even at it’s best, goal planning is boring. At it’s worst, you’re in for a fight that may or may not eventually require tears, attorneys and mediation. We’ve been lucky in the past couple of years to have had great IEP teams, and willing school districts. Still though, as I spend hours and hours preparing for those meetings, and then IN those meetings, I still can’t escape the thought that there could be a way, or many ways, to make them MUCH more entertaining.

So I took this question to my autism-blogger friends. What can we do to make these meetings AWESOME?  Here’s our list:

  • Every time someone says “with autism” correct them to “autistic” then do he reverse the next time they say “autistic.”
  • Ask them if they’ve heard of the (totally made up name) theory of development and see if they lie.
  • When they bring up goals that your child has accomplished, pat yourself on the back and say, “good for me” 
  • Bring notes, on the back of the notes have little ditties written so they see them when you lift up the paper. Like on Wayne’s World.
  • Give yourself affirmations at random times. “I’m good enough. I’m smart enough…”
  • Insist on doing “Duck Duck Goose” around the table to decide who has to read their section first. Demand outcomes of the game written into the minutes.
  • Bring all of your other kids in. And other people’s kids.   
  • Hand out your own goals at the beginning of the meeting. “The Speech and Language Pathologist will bark when someone says ‘IEP’ 2 out of 3 times with minimal prompting” Measure goals at the end of the meeting. 
  • Start every sentence with, “I read on the internet…”
  • …or “my psychiatrist says…” 
  • Insist on Person-first language then don’t use it yourself. At all.  
  • Come in all decked out in sensory attire : weighted vest, lap pad, chewelry, and fidgets.
  • Bring a visual timer
  • Ask for the meeting to do be done with a sign language interpreter. When they ask you why, call them a racist. 
  • Say “listening ears” whenever they’re not listening to what you’re saying.
  • See how long you can hold this face:
  • Every time someone speaks to you, respond with “Are you talkin’ to me?” With full DiNero accent.
  • Insist on keeping the chair next to you empty for your friend, Penelope Paddywack, who no one else can see.
  • Dress like Maria, from Sound of Music. Carry an acoustic guitar.
  • Answer everything in the form of a question. Like Jeopardy
  • Bring Scooby Snacks and throw one to the person whenever you like what they said.
  • Rap.
  • Carry a tiny chihuahua and say “That’s hot” whenever you agree.
  • At random intervals say “You bitches be crazy”
  • Show up with that black paint under your eyes that athletes use. So they know you’re serious.
  • Put tape on your knuckles part way through.
  • Talk in third person
  • Script an entire episode of Spongebob.
  • Use puppets
  • Nickname everyone on the team. Use names that describe their worst physical attribute.      
  • Answer every question with “on the advice of counsel, I refuse to answer on the grounds that I might incriminate myself”
  • Elbow your husband and wink knowingly (but act as if you thought you were being subtle about it and don’t think they’ll notice) at every other, then every third thing someone else says, shifting the pattern every so often, completely randomly. They will go nuts trying to figure out the connection between the statements you’re taking issue with.
  • At the end, laugh your ass off and then say “Okay you guys, let’s do the real one”
  • At impromptu moments, scream “The sky is falling!” Then cluck 3 times.
  • Take your own set of “minutes” and force everyone to sign them. “SLP carried on about her period for forty five minutes, fibroids were discussed. OT says her fingers hurt”
  • Bring your own attendance sheet with celebrity names on them. “Sorry, we either wait for Brad Pitt to arrive or I need you to sign a waiver saying it’s okay that we had this meeting in his absence.”    
  • Answer everything they say with “That’s what she said”
  • Receive a phone call. Proceed to walk the person on the other line through something important, like landing a plane or an appendectomy.  
  • Come dressed as William Wallace, complete with blue face paint
  • Speak only in Chinese phrases you learned from Ni-hao, Kai-Lan.
  • Go dressed up in full paintball gear and start shooting each person in the leg who says something you disagree with   
  • Bring your “translator” and have them translate everything said… into Pig Latin. 
  • Just keep doing this, “So what I’m hearing you say is…..” and say what you want to hear, not at all what they said. 
  • Say “I’d like to give all my answers in the form of interpretive dance” 

 aaaand you’re welcome,

Lexi Sweatpants and: 
Diana at Autism Rocks
Alysia at Try Defying Gravity
Jennifer at Anybody Want A Peanut 
Amanda at Confessions From HouseholdSix 
Lizbeth at Four Sea Stars
Bec at Snagglebox  
Flannery at The Connor Chronicles
Jessica at Don’t Mind The Mess
Becky at Defining Normal
Kelly at Uplanned Trip to Holland
 Varda at The Squashed Bologna: a slice of life in the sandwich generation

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135 thoughts on “Ways to make your next IEP awesome.

  1. I am both a special ed teacher, AND a parent of someone with special needs. THIS IS HILLARIOUS… and the scary thing is that I’ve SEEN a couple of these things happen in actual IEP meetings. I was laughing so hard that I almost couldn’t breathe by the end of the list. Awesome job!

  2. OMG I’m rolling on the floor wiping tears from my eyes. I just finished having all THREE of my kids’ IEPs in one week. I wish I had seen this before hand. In all honesty we had some great teams working with us and it turned out fine…this time.

  3. Brilliant!! I laughed so hard I’m having trouble breathing…I will keep this in my head as I sit across the table from the District on Friday. Let’s hope I can control my self and not use some of these phrases which would definitely be a breath of fresh air from their lying.

  4. Thank you for the best laugh I’ve had in awhile! I had to read it in 2 sessions just to take in the joy of it all. The intensity of the enjoyment, for so many, unfortunately is due to the frustration we all have to endure. I will go into my next IEP with so much of this light-heartness humor that I might not even need to actually break out into one… but I probably will because, well… the fighting hasn’t been that much fun! So pricelist.

  5. Oh my gracious – thank you for this. I read this today after a Behavior Support Plan meeting (close enough to an IEP). This makes everything better!!! Preach on!

  6. Just because something is funny does not prevent it from being just plain old fashioned mean. Made me cry too but not the happy kind.

  7. Thank you so much.. My son’s next IEP is next week and I have been a little stressed but THIS has made me laugh so hard and caused me to take a breath and see the lighter side.. Thank you!!

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