" I hope you dance..."
I love this saying...and the song. It's beyond beautiful the message it sends.
I have to write something today for Kannon so that someday when he's older he can read this and know how loved, how cherished he is. I have to let him know because days like today happen, they happen at least once a year and they will continue to happen without fail.
Why, because he has Autism.
What, today is his annual IEP meeting with the school district.
IEP: Short for Individualized Education Program, an IEP is the legal document that defines a child's special education program. An IEP includes the disability under which the child qualifies for Special Education Services (also known as his classification), the services the team has determined the school will provide, his yearly goals and objectives and any accommodations that must be made to assist his learning.
First, I have to say I have never loved these meetings. They are extremely literal. They are painful for the parent(s), and they require a butt load of paperwork...who doesn't love that?
Second, the round table atmosphere should lend to collaborative efforts by all parties in the interest of your child, but sometimes that doesn't happen.
Lastly, why I have to write a letter to Kannon today is because I want him to understand how none of these papers define him. None of these numbers or goals really matter in the bigger scheme of life.
To be defined by piles of papers, tests, goals, assessments, and graphs is nothing anyone would want.
I want Kannon to know how loved he is.
I want him to throw all these papers away someday when I am gone...
I want him to be free of all this.
I want him to dance.
I need him to remember how last month at Jillian's wedding how she put everything on hold to find him, bring him up to the cake table while she cut her cake and how she gave Kannon the second piece of cake...right after her husband. I need you to know how many people came up to me during the reception to tell me how much they've heard about you, how special you are to Jillian, and how wonderful it was to finally meet you.
You are so loved buddy.
I want him to know that every time he repeated his fairy tales to me, to his therapists, that I know he was trying to say so much more but couldn't. I know you were trying to express love, happiness, and find any way you could to relate to other humans.
You just wanted to connect with others.
I want you to know how many people's lives you have touched. You may never know it or vocally be able to express your knowledge of the gift you have, but you need to know how magical you are.
You make everyone happy, you make people appreciate the simple things in life, you make people better.
I have had a handful of people tell me those exact words. "Kannon has made me better..."
What a gift you are buddy.
Throw away all those papers, tests, evaluations, goals...you don't need any of them.
None of those matter.
They never have.
They were a technicality that had to be done to get you help...that's it.
You are more than all of it.
I love you and your sister so much.
I only did what I thought was best every day.
Unfortunately that included meetings, paperwork, and evaluations.
I just wanted you to know that at the end of the day you always danced, in fact you skipped...literally everywhere you would skip. You were always smiling and you were happy.
You made me better buddy. You made those around you better, and if not better you always made people smile. Your efforts in life are astounding. No one knows better than me how hard you have had to fight every single day for the simple things. Not only did you fight, but you managed to stay happy and dance through it all.
Don't ever forget that.
I hope you never stop dancing...even on days like today.
Happy IEP day.