Mama, I See You :: My Experience Navigating the IEP Process

Mama, I see you. I want you to know you are not alone. There are other moms like you asking and wondering the same things. You’ve noticed something may be different with your child now that they are school aged — or maybe you noticed it before. Have you wondered if they will catch up? Maybe things just seem too hard for them.  

My oldest daughter was very excited to go to school. I had taught her the alphabet. We read bedtime stories together each night. But once she entered kindergarten, it seemed that she slowly started to fall more and more behind. Her teachers also noticed, and the school offered her some group reading help. I was sure that would do the trick and was happy to get some validation that her teacher, too, had noticed her struggles.

But as the school years progressed, she continued to fall behind. I would meet with her teachers, but they would continue to assure me that “she is a nice girl and will be fine.” Well, I want her to be more than a “nice girl.” I finally reached the point where I knew my voice needed to be louder.  

I began to question why the school was not as worried as I was. 

We asked for an educational evaluation at the school. They determined that she did, in fact, need to be on an individualized education program (IEP) plan. Another year progressed, and she did not grow academically. This is when my stress and anxiety began keeping me up at night.

We decided to get our daughter a neuropsychology test on our own, which is no easy task. Why is this so hard? The wait is 6-9 months on average, and the expense is high. I kept wondering why it was so hard to find help for our kids? 

Once we received our results, we knew we needed a stronger advocate to help us maneuver the school system. Our daughter was diagnosed with dyslexia, dyscalculia, and ADHD in executive functioning. I cried at first but honestly felt a deep sense of relief. I finally had information and knew which tools I needed to help her — to empower her.

We found help by calling the Federation for Children with Special Needs. From there we were able to hire an advocate who would join us in our meetings and represent the best interests of our child. It has helped us in many ways, but it has not been easy. Even with an advocate, we have continued to encounter many obstacles in our journey. And I don’t doubt that there are many obstacles yet ahead.

So mama, if you, too, are struggling with how to help your child and don’t know what steps to take, know you are not alone. There are a lot of us out there dealing with the same struggles and worries. Know that you are your child’s strongest advocate. Don’t let anyone diminish your voice. It may be a long journey, but in the end our children will benefit greatly.

Nancy is a mom of 5 girls ages 10 to 1 and a zoo wrangler to our 2 rescue pups, a black lab named Duke and a chihuahua named Pancho. She loves black coffee, hot weather, a bargain, and all things guacamole. Being a mom to 5 strong little women is no small task. Her bilingual home is filled with all the wonders and joys that chaos brings. On days where she finds a tiny bit of time to herself she writes in her blog which you can visit at: www.Motheringinchaos.com As a graduate of Bowdoin College she has gone classroom teaching to focusing mainly on the nonprofit education sector. She has had the privilege of working with organizations like Summer Search, Posse, and has served as a community organizer. Prior to motherhood she has lived in Los Angeles, Boston, and New York City. Currently she is a stay at home mom to her 5 amazing girls and has been happily married to her best friend for the past 18 years, (he’s clearly outnumbered). We are excited to raise our first generation American daughters together while keeping them close to their Guatemalan roots. She is very excited to find herself contributing to Boston Moms, especially coming from a fear of writing. It’s a testament that it’s never too late to keep dreaming and growing!

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