A child who will have physical or cognitive special needs is entitled to special education.
Their educational needs are determined by a team, who creates a plan called an IEP or Individualized Education Plan. A team of teachers, parents, psychologists, therapists, and school administrators work together to help formulate this plan. The IEP becomes law, and is reviewed yearly, and changed/amended as needed to suit the child’s needs. These meetings can be quite convivial or have highly contentious power struggles between parents and other personnel who disagree about proposed services. This is usually the parents vs. their school district administrators who may or may not have the funds or capabilities to provide the services necessitated by the special needs student, but by law, they must.
Mark’s first IEP occurred when he was about 6 months old. There were excellent Infant Stimulation teachers and therapists available for Mark, but we had to have an IEP to determine precisely which services, and whom Mark might need. He could still barely sit up. We went to the county school for special needs kids and sat with a nurse, psychologist, and school administrator. There, the nurse examined him for reflexes and degree of poor muscle tone, etc., the administrator cooed things like, “Mark is so lucky to have you for parents,” and “God chose you to take care of this special baby…”I wanted to scream and run out of there!
Quite suddenly, the psychologist announced it was time for the” raisin test.” The mood downloaded to somber. A great intensity crept over everyone as the psychologist extracted one tiny raisin from a small box and placed it in on the table in front of Mark. He was in Steve’s lap and I was across the table facing them both. The object was to test for curiosity (intelligence) and fine motor skills.
I knew Mark had never even seen a raisin. I was frantic. I wouldn’t feel this way again until seventeen years later when our oldest son went to take his SATs for college! But Markie zeroed in on the raisin visually for quite some time while his baby arms stuck straight out and took swipes at the raisin, getting no where close enough to pick it up. It seemed that everyone was holding his or her breath. I was a lousy mother for not teaching my child to pick up a raisin. The suspense and overpowering, quiet was agonizing. No one was oversmiling anymore.
This had become a serious undertaking that would somehow give us an idea about what kind of character Mark possessed at six months old. But determined he was! He made some weird baby noise and slammed his right fist on top of that damn raisin! More seconds crawled past, and then his little fist shot up with the raisin in a perfect pincer grasp. I knew at that moment, that nothing would keep us from progressing. What ever the point of the test was, the result was profound. I would forever encourage and let Mark take his raisin tests, fight his raisin battles, and trust he would find his way.