This week is holiday break for Thanksgiving and boy, am I thankful!! The year has been a roller coaster of meetings, trainings and learning to be a problem solving ninja. I was having lunch with my fellow speechies this week during a brief lull in my schedule. As we were sharing dessert, Dove dark chocolate peppermint squares (I know it’s not Christmas yet; don’t judge, they are delicious), a topic came up that got me thinking.
We were sharing our week, and I mentioned a meeting that I attended with the most lovely parents. Kind, engaged and asking great questions, they were a family that was an absolute joy. It was a breath of fresh air!! It woke me up to the fact that these interactions have become far and few between. Social graces are apparently becoming a rare commodity, not just for our kids, but in the adults as well! An aggressive mentality was evident in several meetings I have attended this year, with an adult screaming at the teachers and therapists. It is always shocking to me, so when it started happening multiple times, I thought long and hard about why it was occurring. And yes, I realize I was doing a mental FBA (functional behavioral analysis), it’s a job hazard.
When did shouting, swearing and threatening people become an accepted way to advocate for a child? I have been on the parental side of the IEP table too and it is stressful. It is our job as a mom/dad/grandparent to try and do what is best for our children. However, I tried to communicate positively how much I appreciated the effort by the people helping my child and asked questions to clarify the IEP when it wasn’t clear. I gave my input as well, especially when I didn’t agree with something. I was in turn. treated with respect and kindness throughout the process over the years, and it benefitted my son.
It is not just a parental issue either. I have seen poor social skills in teachers, therapists and school staff as evidenced by them checking their phones and texting, having loud side conversations unrelated to the meeting or demonstrating “unwelcoming” body language in meetings. I am thinking of subtly hanging a Whole Body Listening Larry poster on the wall. Seriously, how can we expect to teach our kids successful social skills when the adults in their lives aren’t modeling or using them as well?
Human beings are involved in this process, so we aren’t going to be perfect. We will make mistakes and misunderstand things. We should take ownership when we mess up, apologize sincerely and try to do better moving forward. We should demonstrate common sense and graciousness (thank you for your wisdom and handbags, Kate Spade!). When there is a problem, we work together to solve it. We, as a team, are all working for the greater good of the child, no matter which seat you occupy at the IEP table.
Do you see this trend as well? How do you diffuse or handle these moments?