Here’s my initial reaction to today’s IEP meeting

The meeting has come and gone.  It was one of those meetings where I went into it with a certain attitude and walked out of it with a different one. 

It was Dr. Pattie, the boy’s Mom (via phone), IEP Coordinator, both teachers and myself at the meeting this afternoon. 


The long and short of things is that Elliott’s actually doing really well in school academically.  The interm report was sent and was reflecting issues as a result of him being sick for a week..

As it turns out, he doing middle to late 5th grade work in some areas, in order to continue challenging him. His Math and Reading scores are off the charts. 

If that’s the case, which it turns out it is, why is Elliott struggling so much at home when it comes to homework?

It’s sorta my fault.  Well, not really my fault but more the fact that I have so much invested emotionally. 

I’ve never doubted that Elliott was capable of doing the homework. What I was seeing as anxiety surrounding homework was more Elliott pushing back against having his time controlled by someone other than him. 

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Dr. Pattie says it’s avoidance.

She also thinks that he’s manipulating me. When I expressed some level a disagreement, she explained that he gets to the point where he’s not thinking rationally and cycle just perpetuates.

While I’m not saying she’s wrong because I happen to agree with much of what she thinks but it’s hard for me to not react emotionally when he’s so distressed. 

The problem is that there is so much going on with him and it’s all squished together into a giant ball of struggle.  It’s not always easy to know what is what, especially when he’s not the only one having problems. 

I’ve done some serious soul searching here and I have to own the fact that I’m overcompensating.

The boys have gone through so much over the last year or so and there wasn’t anything I could do to protect them from it.

Elliott specifically, is so profoundly impacted by his Mom leaving. I was working overtime to provide him with relief from his heartache and distress.  I was overcompensating and while it’s coming from a place of love, it’s not always the best thing to do..

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There’s also significant separation anxiety while he’s at school, especially when I happen to stop into the school for something and he sees me.  It takes the teachers an hour to settle him down.

This is pretty much where I’m going to cut off for now.  I wanted to share my take away from this meeting.  In the next post, I’ll share what we’re going to be doing to address these issues and why we’re taking this particular approach.

I just needed to put this out there and start to process everything. 

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  1. Darcy Dallin

    I know all the kids suffered, but why did Elliott suffer more?
    Did lizzie just listen or did she say anything?
    How is the schools classrooms that the kids see you when you make a stop at the school?

    1. Elliott is the most sensitive of the kids and while everyone was devastated, except Gavin, Elliott struggles the most..

      They don’t unless their already in the hallway. Sometimes it just happens that Elliott is using the bathroom with his class when I’m there to pick up Emmett for therapy.

      It’s only been a few times but it was a pretty big struggle….

  2. Jimmy Rock

    Interesting. You went into the meeting with the goal of “abolishing” homework. So many parents (I’m excluding you, you have an exceptional amount on your plate) take that approach because it’s the easy way out. But in so many cases, no homework is just easier on the parent, and is doing the child a disservice. Elliot is obviously a bright kid, and as you said, you don’t doubt that he is capable of doing the homework. You have your work cut out for you, but Elliot will be so much better off if you can help him get through those struggles and get him to do, at the very least, a modified amount of homework.

    One question though– is Dr. Pattie a private therapist or one provided to you through an IEP? It’s OK to have a difference of opinion with your private therapist but you shouldn’t be blindsided at an IEP meeting with an opinion that you weren’t expecting from someone who is, so to speak, on your payroll. Even if not, do you have the kind of relationship with her that she would let you know what she planned to say at the meeting? I just always want to go into an IEP meeting with as much knowledge as possible and be prepared for anything. Plus I want to go into those meetings with a clear goal based upon all the available knowledge. Not always easy. Glad it seems like you’ll be moving forward with a plan- looks like that’s the next post. Good luck!

    1. Dr. Pattie has been our private therapist since before Elliott and Emmett were born. She has worked with Gavin for over a decade.

      I wasn’t blindsided, she based her opinion on the work samples that she was seeing for the first time.

      It’s no secret that life would be easier without homework but I want to make sure that the expectations set upon Elliott are realistic. I went into theeeting wanting to abolish homework because it’s always been a nightmare, especially lately and it really distresses him.

      After putting our heads together, we decided to not give up on homework because he’s doing so well, academically at school. We know he can do the work, we just need to overcome the emotional and behavioral obstacles.

      I don’t want him to have a free pass. I just want to make sure we weren’t asking too much.

      1. Jimmy Rock

        It’s not easy finding that balance. Of course it puts an additional burden on you but what’s another burden, right? Just add it to the pile…

        I was just asking about Dr Pattie only because I wouldn’t want to go into any IEP meeting with school personnel without knowing precisely what any of my private service providers were going to say. I’d want to iron out any differences of opinion beforehand and not necessarily debate it in front of school personnel, if possible.

        Maybe your IEP meetings are different than those I’m accustomed to, but I generally want to go into them with a specific goal and be on the same page as my private providers. School personnel very might well go into a meeting with a different agenda and competing interests and will have other priorities than yours. I understand that you were receiving data for the first time at the meeting and that can lead to some unexpected or unplanned discussions…

        Anyway, I’m not being critical, just asking out of curiosity. IEP meetings can be stressful enough- I know I wouldn’t want to spend part of them debating with the providers that I’m actually paying for. And I’m fortunate enough to have a very cooperative school.

        Either way, although you have your work cut out for you, it sounds like you’re heading in the right direction…

  3. tannawings

    It is something you have to take a look at … and last night I had a ton typed out but that shockwave kept messing me up ha!
    Elliot is bright, very bright, and he is playing you like a fiddle. Harsh, but true, and God help us parents who see hurt or confusion and just want to make things better. You will move heaven and earth not to see tears, and it is only natural. It is also natural to become defensive and become Pappa Bear when someone calls you on it as Dr Pattie did when she saw that Elliot could in fact do the work, he wasnt struggling in school etc. I am sure as good as she is, and as long as she has worked with the kids she went in prepared to fight for Elliot tooth and nail (thats why she took her time to be there in person)

    I think this is something you need to look into and explore more. Yes, Elliot is sensitive, but by letting him avoid any bit of being uncomfortable are you doing him a disservice? Are you creating a dependence unintentionally that will be much more hard to change as he gets older? Just a thought and in no way an attack on your parenting or on you. Just think about it, it is happening in other areas too, and perhaps you arent seeing it,

    1. You’ll have to check out the update I posted with a more detailed explanation after Dr. Pattie and I discussed things after the meeting.

      You’re absolutely right about the avoidance. Some of these behaviors were previously there but when his Mom left, they kicked into overdrive.

      The avoidance started with not wanting to see his Mom after she left. He wanted nothing to do with her and I couldn’t blame him for that. He had every right to feel that way.

      The problem was that he began doing everything he could to avoid seeing her because it made him sad and reminded him that she was gone and frankly, not the same person.

      That’s why I’ve taken the stance with visits that I have. We can’t let him avoid dealing with these feelings because it will carry over into other parts of his life.

      It’s a blindfolded balancing act for me and it’s not easy to know what the right thing to do is sometimes.

      I fear that pushing him too hard, when he’s already trying to cope with so much, could trigger other emotional issues down the road.

      It’s hard not to worry.. Again, excellent point and I appreciate your candor… ☺

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