Master IEP Coach® Spotlight: Abbey ButcherJul 04, 2022
Meet Abbey Butcher, Master IEP Coach® from Colorado!
"I love coaching families and helping to empower them to be the best advocates for their children."
How did Abbey end up at an IEP table?
Abbey has always had a fascination with human behavior and wanted to work with Special Needs students. After working as a private ABA, she started her teaching career in an elementary general education setting because she was "really frustrated by the number of teachers who were resistant to extra help" and wanted to do more for her students. One thing led to another and Abbey found herself long-term subbing in a Special Education classroom while completing an internship for her Special Education credential. Needless to say, it was a steep learning curve! Abbey felt the years of teaching prepared her well enough but needed to hone her IEP skills the most during this time. Since then, she's found her general education perspective has made her more perceptive at the IEP table.
How did the Master IEP Coach® Mentorship change her view of Special Education?
Having been a case manager for several years, Abbey was frustrated by the IEP process and found herself wanting to work outside the classroom but couldn't quite envision how to do that. A friend just happened to send her a link to the Master IEP Coach® Mentorship, not really knowing what she was sending, and Abbey jumped at the opportunity.
"I took one look, looked up Catherine to find enough about her to know that she had similar ideals and visions to what I wanted, and she had the stuff I needed to get from the classroom to outside. I wanted to help families. I wanted them to understand the process so they could advocate for their kids."
During the Mentorship and right out the door, Abbey was able to apply the principles and change the communication of teams that she was managing. She remembers one case that was struggling to come to agreements and simply needed a system of group emails. Instead of 1,000 separate emails to each team member, where words and ideas could because misconstrued, Abbey started making sure that all IEP team members were included in every email so that all parties could be kept in the loop about the child's progress. "It wasn't even that we were on the opposite sides of the page," Abbey recalls, "It was just that Mom was so burned that, you know, the school district meant 'enemy'." The change in communication led to a change in the relationships, as well. For Abbey, the strategies she learned in the Mentorship were simple but had such an immediate impact on her relationships with her clients.
Who Does Abbey Like to Work With?
Abbey loves working with parents whose children have social/emotional needs and they most likely need a behavior intervention plan. This ideal client stems from her parenting journey with her own child with high behavior needs. Their needs fueled her personal learning on brain development and "looking at behavior beyond compliance". The more she learned about that, the more she began to naturally apply it to behavior plans and supports for kids.
"Most districts are focused on 'Let's get this kid looking like everyone else and be compliant' so I help my families and help districts see that if we can focus on managing the child's stress level and keep them regulated, this child will then be available for learning."
Abbey loves to connect with her clients first from "I've been there" and then walk them through how to navigate the system to achieve their goals.
What's Abbey's Favorite Part of the IEP?
Obviously, the Behavior Plan and Accommodations portion of the IEP is Abbey's favorite part. She always puts them together, because, in essence, those positive behavior supports are accommodations the child needs. What's listed in one section is also listed in the other. "I really think that if a kid has appropriate accommodations, they can learn. Goals are great, but how do we help them get there?"
What's been Abbey's proudest moment as a Master IEP Coach®?
Right now, Abbey has a client whose situation has been challenging but has provided enormous opportunities for professional growth. Their team has needed to continuously push to get the correct wording and supports into the child's IEP, but finally, Abbey and her client have a completed IEP in place. "I know we're not done, I know it's not perfect. But let's celebrate that your child has an IEP that reflects what you desire for your child, it reflects all of his needs, and it reflects the services he needs. There are a lot of wins, even though the work is not done. But it was nice to celebrate that with Mom."
Abbey Wants You to Know...
"I really wish people understood just how powerful it can be to have a behavior plan that actually works for your child, one that's not driven by compliance. It's almost magical. When you recognize what the child's real needs are and can apply those strategies, kids thrive."
Get Connected with Abbey:
Ready to join Abbey and our Community of Master IEP Coaches® working TOGETHER to change Special education? Join us at the next Master IEP Coach® Mentorship!
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