I see you over there nervously tugging on your sweater. I know you long for these meetings but at the same time get an empty pit in your stomach.

I know you are here to advocate the best that you can for your child. That name on the paperwork is not just a name. It is a child—your precious child. The child you hold so close to your heart and want to give the world to.

I hear you stumble across your words as you try to explain the complexity of your child. I hear your voice shake as you talk about the weaknesses and daily struggles.

I see you trying to hold it together.

I see you hang your head as you hear teachers and therapists talk about all the things your child cannot do or is struggling with. As they talk about how far your child is behind and the latest data, I see a tear fall down your cheek.

You may think all teachers and therapists are just running through the motions. They may seem robotic. The truth is, many of these teachers and therapists sharing this information have no idea what day-to-day life is like with a special needs child. Many of them only see what it is like in the classroom. However, they do not see the daily struggle outside of school.

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They do not see you running to therapies and doctor’s appointments. They do not know what it is like to experience a diagnosis day. They do not know what it is like to drive home bawling your eyes out after a tough therapy or doctor’s visit.

They may not know what it feels like to watch your child not meeting their milestones with peers. They may know what it feels like to see your child so desperately trying to make friends but getting ignored so easily. It is a life that cannot be fully understood unless you have lived and breathed it 24/7 for years.

Well, momma, I am here to tell you that you are not alone.

I am the smiling face you see sitting across the IEP table. What you do not know is that I am not just a teacher. I am a mother to special needs children myself. I can empathize.

With each tear you shed and every head drop, I feel the sting in my soul. It’s like a crash of memories just hits me every time I sit in an IEP meeting with a parent. I have been there and know how it feels.

There’s no need to fear any longer. You can count on me. I will speak up and fight for the best services for your child. I will not let any input from you go unheard. I will give you comfort and tell you that you are doing a great job.

It is my goal to help others by sharing my journey along the way. Just remember, we are all a team. Some of us have been in your shoes. You are in good hands.

Mandi Geiman

My name is Mandi Geiman.  I am a mom to 3 beautiful girls.  Two of them have a rare genetic syndrome and Autism.  As a mom, teacher, and blogger . . . my goal is to advocate for the special needs community and educate others to help create a more inclusive world.  You can follow us on Facebook Pitt-fully Strong: A Sister Journey or on Instagram pittfullystrong.