Not every meeting at the school was an IEP meeting. Sometimes it was just a parent-teacher conference, just your everyday, normal, not-an-IEP meeting parent-teacher conference.

OK, so, yes, the Navigator’s special education teacher would be there. And his IEP case manager. And school administration, you know, just in case it needed to become an IEP meeting.

Over the years the Navigator’s refusal to complete both schoolwork and homework increased. It was a worry. When I would ask him about classroom topics, assignments, and what he learned he would answer: “Well, the class learned about them.”

“What were you doing?” I asked.

“Staring out into the distance,” he’d answered.

He did seem a little chagrined at that.

I really don’t care if he gets through school with C’s but I do want him to do his best, to get through school, and have the baseline knowledge needed for what he wants to do as an adult. 

This was one of the reasons the Navigator’s IEP Case Manager would set up the parent-teacher conference like an IEP meeting, just in case. If there was something discussed that required a formal accommodation we were ready.

I so appreciated that flexibility, that willingness to be prepared to do what needed to be done.

The other thing I loved was that I was always asked if I had any ideas of what I thought should be done.

Of course I did – I am a Type A personality after all, I always had a plan – however before I jumped in with my ideas, I always wanted to see what the professional educators had in mind.

The professionals usually did have a plan. Most of the time it was a good plan. A plan similar to what I had been thinking of, or a plan that mirrored what we did at home. When they would propose the plan I was generally delighted.

Strangely, one of the best parts to me was when the plan did not need to go on the IEP, because the school was just going to do it. 

Sure, there was the overlay of understanding the executive function issues that the Navigator struggled with, and an understanding of all the unique needs and talents he brought, both autism- and not autism-related.

Some might think I was crazy for not insisting that the plan be cemented in the IEP so that I would know it will happen, to have that IEP “guarantee,” but ensuring the plan happened was not one of my concerns.

The school always followed through. There was trust between us, so that was not an issue for me.

We were lucky that way in our school district, which is a shame because it should be a professional norm across the country and so frequently is not. Luck should have nothing to do with it

To not have the plan in the IEP meant that this was just normal school kid stuff. That the school would do this for any kid. 

Just everyday kid stuff. Not IEP stuff.

Very nice.

Not on the IEP