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Show Kindness to Our Teachers at the IEP Table by Amanda DeLuca

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Save a seat for kindness at the IEP table.

When I attended my first planning meeting for my son to be evaluated for special education services, a few months shy of his third birthday, I was overwhelmed, feeling like the professionals and I were sitting on opposing sides of the IEP table.

We often forget that the teacher sitting across the table from us in this meeting, chose to work with kids like mine. They chose the students who need out of the box thinking, more patience, extra care, additional prompts, and most of the time, just more all the way around.

In a world where they could have chosen any career path, they chose to work in special education, and sometimes at the IEP table we forget that.

The IEP process felt very disconnected, emotional, and negative in my early years but what I’ve learned when I eventually took the emotion out of advocating is that we were all sitting at the table for the same reason. And that is for change.

Teachers want more for their students, better resources, training, and meaningful adaptive equipment for their students. It just isn’t always immediately available to them.

Parents often ask for sensory breaks to be written into their child’s IEP. We picture decked out sensory rooms with swings, bubble tubes, crash pads, and controlled lighting. Not every school has an equipped space that is able to provide a safe and adequate sensory space for students.

This is where I decided that if we want to see more, we must create change as the parents who sit at the IEP table with the team and not working against them. Our teachers needed more support, more resources, a reminder that they are important, that they are more.

So, with the help of my dear friend Kate Swenson of Finding Cooper’s Voice we co-founded The More Than Project in 2021, we wanted to concentrate on supporting those who support the special needs family. Our mission began with supporting the special needs caregiver and their mental health, then by honoring special needs siblings, and now we are happy to be honoring those who show up and show kindness every day for our children, teachers!

As we work to give back to those who continue to go above and beyond for their students The More Than Project will be awarding multiple teachers sensory corners, hallways, whatever they have room for in their school space. We know how important these spaces and equipment are for having a safe space for their students to go and try to regulate, we also know as special needs parents ourselves how expensive this equipment can be.

Through a partnership with The Spotlight Project we are raising More Than a Teacher initiative funds through beautiful custom bracelets made by individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

The More Than a Teacher initiative has created a full circle moment, we are providing work to individuals with disabilities with bracelet orders, while raising money for the amazing teachers who chose to work with students with varying disabilities, and to provide much needed sensory equipment for their programs.

By choosing to come to the IEP table to work with the team, instead of just to argue. By deciding to see the hard work and dedication that our special education teachers are putting into their students, we felt inspired to make a change. 

Let’s make a change, let’s lead with kindness to show these amazing teachers just how appreciated they are.


About the Author:

Amanda DeLuca lives in Ohio with her family, her older child is on the autism spectrum and is what inspired her to become a Master IEP Coach®️ to work with helping families feel more confident in their IEP decisions. Amanda is the board president for the More Than Foundation, teaches dance at her studio, and blogs about her experiences of being a special needs parent at Jackson's Journey, Jackson's Voice.


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