Friday, March 15, 2013

C'mon Kids, Share! Adults Need IEPs, too!

Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) are all the rage these days for children in America.  They assist kids with a range of needs from fine motor skill development to extended time on tests and assignments due to attention difficulties, reading comprehension, and a host of other needs that, back in my day (and my day wasn’t so long ago) would have had us kids separated into homogeneous classrooms learning at the same pace as our peers.  Before you get your knickers in a knot, I do believe in the IEP and how these legal documents can help a child be successful in school. 

However, this is the part where I stomp my feet and yell, like a child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder, “It’s not FAIR!” As adults, we have to muddle through our lives succumbing to our challenges and special needs without anyone helping us.  I need an IEP to deal with situations that come up last minute with no regard to planning or organization.  In order to function in my daily life, I have lists of things to do today, tomorrow, next week, what to buy, who to call, deadlines, due dates…you get the point.   

Imagine my outrage when I received an email on Monday at about 2 p.m. that announced my son’s first baseball practice is on Friday at 6:30 p.m.  Friday is my son’s sleepover birthday party which has been planned for over a month, because that is what I do for the convenience of my life and as a courtesy to others – I plan.  If the baseball program had my IEP and would have differentiated their instruction for each player and his parents, they would have known that this mama doesn’t do four days notice.  Upon reading through my IEP they would have made note: “Notify parent at least 2 weeks in advance so as to not have encourage catastrophic decapitation when mother’s head explodes off her body.”

But alas, there are no IEPs for the adults. If there were, I’d like mine to look a little something like this:
General Accommodations:
Attention/Focusing Cues = Take the following out of the room if you want Pam to accomplish something: All cleaning apparatus as she will clean and organize anything rather than the task at hand, photos of Rick Springfield and chocolate chip cookies. 
Use of Preferred Learning Style = Pam is a visual learner.  Do not read things aloud to her as she will become agitated and say, “Just give me the paper so that I can read it.”  Do not attempt any kind of verbal mathematical calculations, as she can barely figure that stuff out when it is written.  Graphs, charts, and spreadsheets all work well with Pam’s learning style.   

Length of Time for Assessments/Assignments = Pam is obsessed with deadlines so not only will she finish on or before time, she expects the same of everyone else. No modifications here.  Just do it, people.

Annual Goal:Pam will work towards being more spontaneous and just going with the flow.  Hahaha!  Kidding!  She will, however, try to understand the disorganized people of this world and show empathy for their lack of awareness for other people’s lives.
Strategies and Accommodations:Pam will be permitted to not verbalize her feelings but instead roll her eyes and use passive aggressive body language to convey how she feels.
Modeling, role play, rewards, consequences using the assertive discipline approach = chocolate chip cookies accepted as positive rewards.
Establish and use consistent routine, prepare for transitions well in advance. Keep as predictable a schedule as possible = THIS is what I’m talking about, people!
Comments:A program of expected behaviors and consequences will be established. Rewards including first row seats at a Rick Springfield concert, pedicures, and beach getaways for expected behavior will be given at the end of an agreed upon time interval. Negative behavior will not be acknowledged in this tracking format, but will be identified by Pam’s family when she loses her mind because other people aren’t doing what they need to do in order for Pam to function properly.  Should onset of mind loss be detected, husband is instructed to give Pam whatever time she needs at the gym to decompress, as this is her best anti-stress tool.