Hey guys, it's Courtney here. And this week on our podcast episode, I want to talk about teen communication and establishing that you're communicating with your IEP team, your Individual Education Program team, and or you're five or 14, and communicating with them often does not mean that you have to be that mom, I think a lot of us are scared or have heard people talk about, well, don't be that mom, you know, don't pester them. And so that keeps a lot of parents from speaking up or talking to the team about different things, because they don't want to come across that way. So I think it's important to know that there is a way to effectively communicate with your team and build that trust, and build that relationship. It doesn't mean your BFF with all the school team members and all the IEP team members, and then we don't necessarily have to love everyone that works with our kid. There are personality differences and differences that come up in any working relationship where not always is it like I really liked that person, right. But we still have to work with them to a certain extent. So how do we establish that communication to communicate with our IEP team, to be in the know without being, you know, feeling like we're crossing that line to maybe being annoying, right. And so I'm going to be transparent with you guys. In the beginning, I did not understand how to necessarily collaborate or advocate in a collaborative manner. Everything that I kind of was hearing and seeing was about, you know, you had to yell really, to get results, you had to be mean to get what your kid needs. And I didn't like who I have I was at that time or who I was becoming, because I felt I bought into that I'm going to be completely honest with you guys. I bought into that in the beginning the early years with my daughter. And I regret that I regret, I got her results, which I don't regret. But it damage the team report. And so when you have to show up, and sometimes you're with the same IEP team for years, if nobody moves, I know this was you know, before the pandemic, so maybe not so much. Now. We're like, Can we get a staff member? Right? So this was definitely years ago. And I realized, after taking advocacy classes and going to leadership classes, and really working on different aspects of myself, and learning the systems of care, and the systems of you know, IEPs, and all of that, I definitely changed up my approach. And there are a couple of things that I want you guys to know. One, I still got results, I still got my daughter access to communication devices to communication training, I still got that communication with the school team. I got goals that really made sense for where my daughter was at at that time, and where I wanted in the goals I had for her future. The other thing that changed was the collaboration and partnership with the IEP team and feeling like I didn't feel like they were running from me or hiding from me when I was walking in the door, right. And I felt like they they felt safe to come to me with things that were working well. And with things that were like, Hey, we're not sure what's going on here. I need your help or support here too. And so when we're looking at that, I feel like most parents want a good working relationship with the school team. However, sometimes it doesn't feel very possible because you're on opposite ends of what you you think your child might needs versus what the school team thinks your child might need. So one of my advocacy strategies is to get at the beginning of the year, or really any point that you feel like hey, I don't really know who's on my IEP team right now.
I don't really know who the OTA is. You don't want to wait until your child's annual IEP meeting to figure out who the provider is All right. So I really like to set up and get gather up all the individual emails for the different service providers. So for my daughter, it's quite extensive. So she has PT, you know, occupational therapy, speech, hearing vision, and usually a consult with the nurse, special education teacher. And working with a variety of paraprofessionals. I don't get the Paris numbers, or emails, they usually don't like us to do that. However, I get that vision, teacher, email, phone number contact information, because if something comes up with vision, and I want to reach out and touch base with that vision therapist, right, the vision teacher, I want her to know what's going on are the changes in my daughter's vision or her eye appointment, or something I've been noticing at home, or something cool, that's happened, that I want to share with the IEP team. And this is where I feel like the magic really starts to happen. So beginning of the school year, I reached back out, we start crazy early here in Arizona, my school digital, ridiculous. We started in July. So I reached out and I really wanted to share something cool with the physical therapist, I really wasn't sure if she stuck around or if she left. So I sent out an email and I said, Hey, it's Hannah's mom. I wasn't sure if you were still assigned to work with her the school year. She got back to me. Yes, I am. I'm so excited. Good means that there's a little reporter there, she knows her abilities. She's already in alignment with what the goals are a lot less work on my end to help bring that therapist up to speed. So I shared with her how we went whitewater rafting, as a family and my daughter Hannah, for those of you who might not know she has a physical disability and a cognitive disability. And I really was not sure my husband was 100% Convinced that Hannah could go whitewater rafting, I was very much concerned about it. And I almost backed out of it. But we ended up getting her down to the river, we ended up getting her set up in the raft meeting, the safety guidelines for not being buckled into the raft, right because that if it tips, she would be strapped and that's unsafe. So we had to figure out a way to keep her safe, keep her balanced, but also not breaking the safety guidelines for the rafting. So we get her in there, the rafting adventure place was phenomenal, highly, highly recommend them. So accepting, it wasn't just like, oh, we'll do it. It was like we are
so friggin excited to do this. We are so so excited. And we want to make this the best trip of her life, which was an awesome feeling. So as we're getting in the raft, and as we're going through this just amazing experience as a family, I'm taking notice of all the different things that Hannah's doing that were pte related, that they were things that we had worked on in physical therapy over the years, and how all of those therapy sessions really led us to this moment where she could sit up and hold herself up right her core strength, that she could swing her legs that she could push into and bear weight on them. She couldn't always do that. And so I just became overwhelmed with emotion, of gratitude for this moment that we had as a family. And so when we got back from our vacation, I sent out an email or a text message to the physical therapist that I still had contact with one of them being my daughter's school physical therapist, and I sent her a picture and I said, I wanted to thank you for all of your work and effort with my daughter. And it really led to this really cool moment this summer. And you were a part of that. Right? And so really bringing them and they want to know their work is meaningful too. And I know it's not always sunshine and rainbows out there. Believe me, I get it. I've had tough conversations, uncomfortable conversations, IEP meetings that I left crying, I really really do get it. But I also know that there's so much about value in building those relationships. When times are Good when situations are good so that when situations turn or take a turn right, and we're getting off track, it's so much easier for both parties, the school or the therapist, teacher, and the parent to handle it, you're going to handle it differently. If you have kind of this baseline relationship, that's more than just seeing each other once a year at this IEP meeting, and taking notice of the things they are doing well, it doesn't mean that these other things don't need to be addressed. They absolutely do. What we don't want to lose sight of, you know,
I last year, we they did a unified prom at my daughter's High School. And they basically this, it was prom, but they had it during the day. And they adapted things. For the students that had disabilities that made sense for the group of students that were there, they invited other gen ed students. And to have this prompt during school hours when it wasn't late at night, when there was caregivers available to assist a lot of the kids who needed that one on one support. It was an amazing experience for my daughter, she had a blast. When I looked around the room, I saw her physical therapist there, I saw her occupational therapist there, they were dancing, interacting, being excited helping take pictures, they were truly building relationships with the kids. And so I sent an email saying thank you for coming to unified prom, thank you for being a part of that it was so cool to have this experience. And I hope the school does it going forward, I hope this is an annual thing. And again, just building those relationships so that when you do email about something that's not working, when you do need to email about really important medical issues or changes that need to happen, or something that you feel there's a gap happening, it's going to be so much more well received than if the only emails they get are coming with that this is wrong angry. And again, I'm not dis validating that, because there's definitely times that I've had to send it but I just think that it's really important from a parent's point of view and an advocates point of view that I have to build those meaningful relationship with the school team, because you're gonna they're gonna get to know you and your child's strengths and what they're working on. And just such a deeper level that I think leads to more effective IEP goals. So how I start that is by gathering those emails and contact. So again, it gives you the leeway to email individually or collaboratively to the whole team, it gives you a chance to talk directly to the person that you need to talk to depending on what issue you're emailing about. It also lets you know right away if there's a gap in service, so what does that mean gap and service means that you started the school year, and maybe there's not an occupational therapist, or they had one and then they quit. So by gathering those emails, if you don't hear back from them, if you're touching base with them, and you don't hear back from them, you're like, why is why are they not getting back to me? Or if they if the team says we don't actually have a provider for speech right now, I don't have an email to give you, then you take note that your child has not gotten speech therapy from whatever the start of school for one month for two months. And that allows you to start that conversation of how are we going to support my child with these things that we already know. They were assessed, evaluated and determined. They needed speech therapy. Now you don't have a speech therapist. So what are we going to do to support my child in the meantime. And then you also have a timeframe of how many service minutes were missed during that time period between when school started or when the therapist quits to when a temporary or permanent therapist was hired. And then you have the right to ask for those compensatory minutes to be made up. And so one way to stay in the know as a parent is to have access to those emails have
access to the providers, because it's going to give you a really good indication of who's currently on board who's missing. Any staff changes that happened and all of that really does matter. Like especially for my daughter, they do a lot of transfers from her wheelchair to sitting in the chair or wheelchair to the adaptive toilet seat. And so the physical therapist, one of their job is to make sure that the teacher and parent pros are trained on how to transfer her safely. So if there was a lot of staff changes in the classroom, we would need to know about that. If there's a PT change, I would need to make sure that the new PT was completely up to speed with Hannah's physical needs, and how to train for the adaptive, the transfers. So it's multi layered. So I really encourage you to listen through this podcast a couple times, see what comes up for you see where you're at and kind of take inventory with where you're at with your school team right now, your IEP team? Where could you start? Even if it's with one provider, even if it's you're like, you know what, I can't even with some of these other people right now. Who can you start with, start there, start moving in that direction of creating this habit, and I have something coming out, leave, it's coming out November 21. So right around Black Friday, I have a IEP. So it says IEP at the top, and it says P is also for parent. And I have an ebook coming out about helping parents build these relationships and ways they can do that and why it's so important. And I lay it all out for you. So if you are not on our Newsletter Lists, get on it. markeesha has one and I have one and get on there so that you can hear about her specials that are coming out and different things she has that are going to be available in addition to the podcast to really help support you and guide you in being both a parent, caregiver and advocate at times we have to be all of those things. And that's what we're about. So I really encourage you guys to listen to that. Keep your eye out for some things that she has coming out and some things that I have coming out in the works to really give you guys wrap around full support. And it would mean so much to us if you would leave a five star review a comment so that that really helps the podcast reach new listeners and helps people know that it's a great podcast, it's worth their time. So we really appreciate you guys doing that. I had did record this one solo. Unfortunately, there's some things going on health wise and so and busy busy life so anyways, I did record this solo, but I know markeesha Cannot wait to get back to recording this together and getting this out to you guys. But there's just a lot going on there. So I went ahead and did this episode for you guys. So I'll talk to you later.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai