Welcome to Autism Mama Rocks the IEP! I am so glad you are here.
My name is Raven Woods and I am a wife, entrepreneur, and mother of three amazing kids ages 21, 17 and 12. My 12-year-old has Autism. My kids rock! My oldest is at James Madison University and is studying Education and will be obtaining her Master’s in 2019, and my son is in his senior year of high school. Football is life for him and then he wants to go into the US Coast Guard. My youngest is my special girl and she has taught me more in 12 years than all the years combined that I have been alive. More on that, I promise.
I have my Master’s degrees in Business Management and Educational Leadership. I have worked with kids in and out of the educational setting for over sixteen years. I am extremely knowledgeable and educated about Autism and my favorite topic is the IEP (Individual Education Plan), and the educational setting that pertains to individuals with Autism, Special Needs and on the spectrum.
Skylar, referred to as “Skye”, my daughter, got viral meningitis at three months old and was hospitalized for some time. She was stabbed with needles and poked and prodded and at such a young age this was horrible to see. Shortly after, I noticed something was wrong. She would stare at the ceiling fan, was not hitting those “normal milestones” (whatever definition you want to give normal), and she was always sick. She would get an ear infection in her left ear, go on a medication and then get another a week later in her right ear. This went on for almost a year and a half. It was horrible. We were in and out of the ER constantly with high fevers, ear infections and more.
At six months of age Skye qualified for an Early Intervention Program where she received Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy from home a couple times a week. When she was two she qualified for the school system’s Early Intervention Program. This is where my journey in the educational setting began and since then, I can literally say I have been to hell and back. Boy, has it been a journey and still is, but I sure know my stuff because of all I have been put through. I will not say it has not been tough. It has been more than tough, but everything, everything I have done and everything I have had to go through to get here has been worth it. I can say I, no, “WE” came out on the other side and as exhausting as it may be at times, the tears, the hard work, the persistence, and the will to not quit, is what got us here today.
Now, I want to educate you to do the same. To not just advocate for your children but to get what they need, deserve, and on top of that to truly feel you did what you had to do for your child.
My goal for you is to be educated and knowledgeable in the IEP process, your child’s education, special services, and accommodations. Plus, know the different therapies and if any of those therapies is needed and appropriate for your child. The lingo (now this is a trip), how to say things in a meeting so that they know you know your stuff (or at least appear to), how to approach issues, what your rights are as a parent and more. It is a lot, I know.
Believe me, I was where you are and I know the feeling of wanting so badly within your whole being to want to know what to do and just not know how to do it or what the next step is. I remember getting headaches, feeling overwhelmed, and even sick to my stomach. It was awful. I would leave so many IEP meetings in tears, completely overwhelmed and frustrated. I would feel like I failed my daughter and boy does that make you feel horrible.
Have you asked yourselves, how do I know exactly what my child needs in the educational setting? How do I know what is appropriate for them in the educational setting? Is it true they don’t have to do what is best for my child? What does that even mean? Is everything they are telling me the truth? What are my rights as a parent? How far can I push this issue? Why are there all these people on the IEP team? What is the right thing to say in a meeting? Is there certain lingo I need to learn? Who all is working with my child? How do I know they are doing what they say they are doing? Are they qualified?
Do you feel alone or as if it is you against all of them? Scared or even mad at yourself for not knowing what to do for your child?
Well, my friend, that is what this website and blog is all about. It is about getting you answers. It is about calming your fear. It is about educating you so that you become the best advocate, parent and person you can be for your child. I can promise you this. I’VE GOT YOUR BACK! Not only have I been there but I have learned through trial and error and Mastered the IEP process!
Educating yourself, learning the tools and perfecting the IEP process is the BEST thing you can do for your child and for your child’s needs and education. I am sure you know already, EDUCATION IS POWER! What you know about the IEP and this process could change your child’s education, your child’s outlook on school, their behavior, and can make the decision on what services they qualify for, or not. What you know can change everything.
“Autism Mama Rocks the IEP” came about because as you all know, with Autism comes a definite sense of humor. This is a must have, right? I couldn’t help but think about how dancing, rocking it out, wine, and fun makes everything all better, our lives brighter and the small stuff is just that. Sometimes it is exactly what the doctor ordered so we do not sweat the small stuff, have a sense of humor, open up, and just be who we are and were born to be. That is what I think about when I think about Autism.
I hope you enjoy your time here. I hope you learn what is needed so you can go rock those IEP’s!