To my child’s IEP team,

Before our meeting begins, I want to share with you a few things about my kid.

I know we are going to discuss things like preferential seating, FM systems, and surround-sound units.

We will address back-up hearing aid/implant batteries and create a plan for equipment failures.

Closed captioning and audiovisual aids will be on the list of things we cover.

And we will agree on whether or not my daughter is going to need extra time for test-taking and if she will be provided advanced copies of classroom notes.

All of the things we cover are necessary to ensure my child’s educational success, and I appreciate your attention to details.

But, there are a few things I want you to know before we discuss all these accommodations.

I want everyone to take a moment and remember my child is also a typical kid who doesn’t have typical hearing.

She’s more than her cochlear implant, more than her hearing aid.

She is so much more than a diagnosis of hearing loss.

She’s funny. She’ll belly laugh until she cries at a good joke.

She’s an athlete. She’s never met a game she doesn’t like to play. She’s a threat on the basketball court with a mean cross-over and can throw a football in a spiral, straight and far.

She loves being outside and would spend all day skateboarding or riding her scooter if you let her.

She loves the ocean and has always been half mermaid—half fish.

She is obsessed with books. Turn your back for a second, and you will catch her with her nose between pages. A voracious reader, she’s likely to finish a novel on the same day she checks it out from the library. And if you really want to get her attention, ask her to share some fun facts about Harry Potter. She will be a motormouth.

In most ways, she’s a pretty typical tween. Fashion. Music. Friends.

Although she beats to her own drum. Maybe it stems from knowing what it feels like to have to work a little harder, she often roots for the underdog.

She’s kind and a good friend.

An enthusiastic learner, she’ll ask her fair share of questions. I hope that insatiable curiosity is always encouraged.

Mostly, she’s a good-hearted kid who wants to be
accepted,
understood,
and
included.

She might ask you to repeat a question more than once; she might not acknowledge you the first time you tell her something; she might not hear you correctly.
She will say,”Huh?” and “What’d you say?” often.

Please don’t get frustrated, simply repeat it. Because listening is hard work.

Don’t mistake “hearing” with “understanding” because they are entirely different things.

Most of the time, she is trying her best, but sometimes will just need a break.

I know the IEP team cares about my child’s well-being. I always head into these meetings optimistic and ready to work alongside you…towards a common goal.
I trust we want the same thing; this meeting is designed to ensure we all champion for my daughter’s success.

Sharing with you the other stuff that will not be part of this IEP meeting, though, is just me trying to be a typical mom;

For I am a mom who in addition to the necessary accommodations, wants everyone to know my child is so much more than hearing loss.

So much more.

This post originally appeared on My Battle Call by Valli Gideons

 

Valli Vida Gideons

I am a military bride, who writes about raising kids with cochlear implants, military life, and other things from the heart. Unrelated but not irrelevant... I have a degree in journalism and wrote my first short story in second grade about a walking/talking sponge; I've been an exercise instructor since my teen years (Flashdance sweatshirts, leg warmers and vinyl records to prove it); and may have been an extra on the vintage 90's hit, Beverly Hills 90210 (proof still found on VHS tapes). I got hypothermia in my first marathon at mile 25.5, but went on to kick butt the next six times I toed the line; I use to cut hair on Melrose Ave. in another life; and I am still besties with my two closest pals from elementary school, who encouraged me to share my story. This is my journey. I hope it provides a sliver of inspiration for anyone who is entering or in the midst of a fog. Follow my journey on Facebook and my blog!