My heart was broken at Emmett’s IEP meeting

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We had Emmett’s IEP meeting today. It was nice to hear that he was doing really well….overall. Having said that, I was heartbroken to hear some of the concerns. There are a few concerns but one really hurt.

The most expected problem was with speech and language.

He needs help in articulating his letters and he is also substituting sounds as well. However, considering he’s basically only had language skills for about 2 years now, he’s doing really well. He will be getting the extra help he needs to grow his language skills and learn to better articulate his words.


Behavior is also a problem. He’s not misbehaving but he’s having a hard time staying on task because he’s extremely anxious.

He’s afraid to even try something new and sorta panics and quickly becomes overwhelmed. This leads to him not being able to pay attention or understand the teachers instructions. This is something that will be addressed as well. We’re gonna help him to feel more confident in himself and his abilities.

This next part is what broke my heart and totally knocked me on my ass. I wasn’t prepared to hear that Emmett was having a hard time making friends. 

Apparently, he is offering to give his classmates something if they will play with him. His teacher explained that there are times that he’s offered to tie a classmates shoe, if that person would play with him. He’s even gone so far as to offer up the prize he earned from treasure box to someone if they would let him play with them.

As I’m writing this, my eyes are filled with tears because he feels this is the only way kids will like him.

His teacher is concerned that Emmett will be exploited or taken advantage of, as a result of this.

I’m completely caught off guard by this because Emmett has been very socially appropriate and has always done well with other kids. Maybe I’m overreacting but I feel absolutely horrible and I want to figure out how to help him through this.

My knee-jerk reaction is to tell Emmett that he’s such an amazing little boy that if someone doesn’t want to play with him unless he gives them something, fuck’em, it’s their loss. He’s better than that and if someone can’t see that, screw’em.

Of course, I wouldn’t say it exactly like that to my 5 year old but you get the point.

I feel like I’ve let him down somehow or that I’ve not done something well enough to ensure he has a healthy self esteem.

This wasn’t what I expected to come out of this IEP meeting but it’s better to know, so that we can address it. At the end of the day, the meeting was largely positive and in most cases, Emmett is either on target or beyond where he should be at this junction.

I’m so proud of him for all the success he’s having this year. His teachers just adore Emmett and think he’s the sweetest little boy ever. He’s super smart and adjusting well to his new environment.  We clearly have a few things that we need to work on but all in due time.

Emmett John, I love you so much and if you ever read this, please know how proud we are of everything you are and all that you do. 😉

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Rob Gorski

Full time, work from home single Dad to my 3 amazing boys. Oh...and creator fo this blog. :-)
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Julia Hay

Rob, is he doing it because other kids aren’t playing with him? Or does he think other kids won’t play with him? If that isn’t the case I wouldn’t worry or feel bad. All kids at that age use toys and favours as transactions “I’ll let you play with my super awesome new toy if you sit next to me”. If he’s not doing it because it’s the only way to get kids to play with him then it’s not overly concerning, you just need to teach him other ways to initiate interactions with his peers

Marlene Barnett

Sounds like overall Emmet’s doing pretty good.. Keep up the good work. He has a great teacher who really cares plus parents who love him to pieces!!

Angela McDonough
Angela McDonough

Codys best friend at 5 was a 2×4 he drew a smile face on and called plank because he watched to much ED EDD AND EDDIE

Sandy Tolar Resine

I have one coming up next month for my son and I am not looking forward to it, Come January he will be going to a private Autism School. public schools are not equipped for them

Angela McDonough

wont lie though we did put Cody on meds he takes 15 mgs of Celexa each morning to control his anxiety he has not had a serious meltdown in 2 yrs

Angela McDonough

Dont get to discouraged those are exactly Codys issues when he was 6 i bought him this book and made the school use it for his anxiety issues IT DID HELP ALOT I would give you my copy but i sent it to another parent on here a yr or so ago

Cass Galbreath

Sending so much love to your little guy. I understand and have a little fellow of my own in a similar situation. I sure wish I had some good answers.

Melissa Biggs Eager

had a similar IEP where we were told our 5 yr old son who has autism was scaring the kids in class. All because when he is having a meltdown he is loud. I feel for you.

Rose Morrissey Barron


Lost and Tired

rmagliozzi that’s a really good point.  I hadn’t thought about it like that.  🙂


As bad as him thinking he has to give people things to play with, at least he is seeking out other children to play with. Many autistic children do not want to interact with others, unfortunately.. With some hard work and practice, he can learn to engage other children and get them to play with him in a better way. And he is still awfully young, so for all kids in kindergarten the social skills are a work in progress.


fourth grade, Richmond BC.
the NEW GIRL brought a chocolate bar to school. that new girl was ME. 8 blocks of ooey gooey goodness of chocolatey delicious treat. suddenly at recess there was a clamour around my desk. i had a choice to make. everyone was asking for a block of my bar. and well what would i need with a WHOLE bar. so, i did the “buy your friends” method. i broke it up into blocks and traded it with 6 kids, keeping two blocks for myself. in return i got 6 mandarin oranges, oh how i loved them and where i came from we hardly ever got them. and ASLO in return i got 6 friends… at least for the day.
i only went to that school for half a year, but when i left all the kids  signed a goodbye card for me and they all told me how much they would miss me, they seemed really genuine for fourth graders….
. i must have really made an impression on them with my generosity (which really was not, i was scoring 6 whole oranges and happy to do so again when i could ask mom to give me another bar)
Truth is, no matter how hard i tired after that, i never had kids like me so easily. i have always been socially awkward and those kids reached out to me (even if it was because i came bearing chocolate)
i guess my point is, typical kids crave friends too. and sometimes we are the shy kid or the new kid and sometimes we are just socially awkward and not even on the spectrum.
i just think you can do what most parents do, reenforce how awesome Emmett is and keep telling him. maybe scheduling some “play dates” with boys in his class will let him see that you can just HAVE a friend and not have to bargain for one. maybe there are some after school classes or groups he could take part in (boys and girls club for example) even if you only went once a week or so.
my 7yr old son is ASD. high functioning but has sensory issues and is a little socially awkward. we put him in judo classes the last 2 weeks…. and i want to hold his hand through it all, but i am trying to NOT make a big deal of it, and i am trying to let him discover things on his own. it is hard

Lost and Tired

rjones22 @Charlie Bolton @Andrea Williams @Rebecca Bishop Curriden @Carrollynn Henshaw @Sharon ZooKeeper Johnston BeckyRogersWiren @Jane Cox @Emily Curran Carlsen @Bek Mortelliti Caruso 
Thanks everyone. I would be heartbroken to know that any child feels that’s necessary. When it’s one of my kids, I just put myself in their tiny shoes and imagine what they must be feeling in that moment. Sometimes, I think I impose my feelings and assume they are feeling the same way and that’s not always the case.

Lost and Tired

rjones22 Thank you so much for share your perspective. I’m so grateful that I have such a broad spectrum of readers, from all walks of life. 😉 
I really needed to hear this today. Thank you. 🙂


here is my 2 cents (again). of course you feel badly about the friends thing.  The good news is that he wants friends. I know all your kids are autistic, but “regular kids” (that is all I have) have done the same thing. Your school is pointing this out to you because you are at a special school so they want to be able to work on everything. what i am saying is parents like me have had to work on the same thing. such as my kids wanting to have a certain video game will bring more friends, kids trading snacks at lunch to have new friends, kids doing an activity they really dont want to do like playing on the football team when practice really sucks and they are not really good and dont get playing time, but they are on the team in order to get friends. he is still really young so he may be trying to work it out on how to get friends. I am in sales so i bring candy to my clients not because i want to necessarily but that they will befriend me, like me, and hopefully buy from me. i just wanted to give you that outlook and see if you can apply that to your thinking. by the way, I got my offer letter for a job and start november 4th Yeah!!! i will be poor for a couple of more months but i am so glad i got this job because they have a career path worked out for me instead of just being another salesperson. that being said, i will be bringing donuts to the office on my first day because I want everyone to like me lol. it is a regular thing i think out in the world.

Bek Mortelliti Caruso

I think it’s good that they noted this and explained it to you. Now you know. Now you can help Emmett with this specific thing. We are all works in progress. Emmett is an amazing kid. I hate that he feels he has to do this, and I felt the same way as a kid, and as an adult, but now I’m working on undoing those behaviors and it’s really hard. I’m glad Emmett is still little and you are aware now. I was raised to be a pleaser and that is just not healthy or safe and I think in us ASD folks simple, childhood messages about sharing, and friendly behavior/actions gets taken very seriously, somewhat to an extreme, plus we tend to struggle with the grey areas that our typically developing peers manage with fluidity. It’s interesting to me that, as an autistic and as parent to an autistic, how rules based we really can be and how when something doesn’t work (like getting a peer to play with us) we’ll apply those rules to an extreme…anyway, just some thoughts. You are doing a great job. Emmett is doing so well. If everything was spot on, you probably would be pinning mundane stuff to Pinterest instead of fostering such a fantastic community and lots of positive energy for you and Emmett, right? 🙂 It does make a huge difference, in the long run, that you are involved and responsive and that you do help him and value him as the amazing being he is already and support him being even more amazing. That’s huge! Ok. Need sleep… Boy has the flu. Ugh. Big hugs.

Emily Curran Carlsen

We came up with a great plan for our son last year. His para would help him choose a friend to sit with at lunch. During lunch they would talk about an activity they could play at recess together. They would play the activity for as long as my son stayed interested, and then he would be free to do whatever he wanted by himself. We had this process written into his I.E.P. Unfortunately this year his teacher hasn’t followed it. When I approached her about it, she first said she didn’t know anything about it, and then went on to find it in his I.E.P. She then sighed and said “My I.E.P’s are just so long this year”! Not impressed. I hope you’re able to get your sweet boy the support that he needs!


My oldest son, 26, with Asperger’s syndrome is not real social, but he does have friends. He always had a hard time reaching out. I didn’t know he had autism, to my everlasting regret. He was/is so bright that he mimicked other NT behavior, so we all thought he was “just” a genius nerd. No, a genius nerd with autism…a far, far different thing. I felt so bad reading what happened with your son. That isn’t all just about him having autism, although he may feel a little different. Hope you give yourself a break, even NT kids go through all kinds of friendship permutations etc.

Jane Cox

NT children do this to….they give things to others to get others to play with them to ….you havent done anything wrong ….he is doing great … With everything you guys have been through he has gone through so many hurddles you have to be proud …. He is going to show signs of what NT children go through also along with what our kids go through so if that is the only neg. In the meeting damn good job Emmett and mom and dad , you guys are moving further ahead…

Charlie Bolton

sorry to hear this, believe me I know what it’s like…..i have autism too . I know what’s it’s like to be alone…kinda sad.

Andrea Williams

as for the friend thing__the parent is correct__it could lead them to be exploited later in life

Carrollynn Henshaw

Try to take this in stride. At 5, he is probably just starting to realize that other people may not like him- or may like someone else better- and that is quite an adjustment for children when (up to this point) they think the world revolves around them.
Having said that- it would have knocked me down to have heard that too!
I have been working on teaching my preschoolers with special needs how to be bored. We might spend quite a bit of time in our lives bored – my students will know how to minimize the boredom and thus (hopefully) minimize any negative behaviors associated with boredom.
Maybe you (or the teachers) can work with him on how to ask to play and how to handle rejection?
Just a thought. Good luck.

Sharon ZooKeeper Johnston

aww hu iv had this its horrid i even myself without aspergers or autism done this would spend my lunch money on sweets for “friends” a very wise teacher taught me to instead of asking for friendship was to show my skills and i used this to help luke my son who is 11 ….. he now is givin resposibility in calss for scanning peoples work into computer and helping other kids do this but they have to earn it and teacher does this with whole class for each kids skill so he isnt singled out. This led to him having better relationships and also getting hi into an after school club and tryin to interact out with school has made difference . maybe you could expand on this idea to suit your situation x

Rebecca Bishop Curriden

I fully emphasize. My daughter still has a very minute vocabulary and the school system is pushing her, but I know if it doesn’t change she may be locked in that world forever.