Meetings to discuss a child’s individual education plan, or IEP, have a bad reputation. And it’s not completely unfounded; IEP meetings can bring a lot of frustration to parents who are trying their best to advocate for their child and ensure they get the support and education they need to succeed.
So we asked some of our Facebook followers to tell us the craziest thing they’ve ever heard at an IEP meeting. And some of the responses were, well, quite colorful, indeed.
However, it should be noted that not all IEP experiences are negative. In fact, we had several users tell us that they’ve had great experiences with IEPs, as well as fantastic teachers expressing sympathy and sadness to parents with IEP horror stories. We don’t want to ignore these positive experiences, so we’re going to include one bonus story at the very end. Be sure to stick around for it!
(Note: Some responses have been edited for grammar.)
14. Never Tell a Parent Never!
“‘Your daughter will likely never speak, never sign & never have any meaningful communication.’ I pulled her out of the school district immediately that day, put her in a full-time ABA center 3 days later & 3 years later she was talking, potty trained & doing well!! NEVER TELL A PARENT NEVER!!!!” —Melissa W.S.
13. “There Are No Bubbles”
“Last year when my son was a junior in high school, his 76-year-old general education history teacher displayed her ignorance and insensitivity in front of the entire IEP team, and made it perfectly clear she had not read or implemented his IEP in the classroom. She walked into the meeting late, did not introduce herself and proceeded to say with attitude that in her class ‘there are no bubbles’ multiple times. She continued to berate my son for his lack of writing skills and his missing writing assignments, but had she read the IEP or consulted with his case manager, she would have known that writing is his only weakness. Our advocate, a school psychologist for a neighboring school district set her straight by pointing out his cumulative 3.7 GPA and the fact that SAI English is the only SPED class he has ever needed since middle school. She left the meeting furious, we filed a 5 page complaint letter with the district, and had our son removed from her classroom by the end of the week.” —Yvonne V.K.
12. Corporal Punishment
“‘Maybe if you would let us punish her she would learn to be less autistic.’ That was said after they wrote my daughter up on a referral and called for permission to use corporal punishment. Oh, and ‘I can’t promise you she will not be in Augusta when you come to pick her up this afternoon, but I can promise you we will try our best, and that’s all we can do.’ This was said about my daughter on the first day of kindergarten, because she is a known wanderer. Augusta is a town over 20 miles away.” —Tammy D.
11. Apparently He Was Born Too Soon…?
“‘If your son was born 3 weeks later, this wouldn’t be an issue’ … me urging the district to allow my son to stay in the early childhood special ed program rather than go to kindergarten, as he would be the youngest in his class and wasn’t ready! Guess I was supposed to cross my legs while I was pregnant and let him bake a little longer.” —Tracy K.
10. Inclusion Class
“‘We will go ahead and put your son in the inclusion class, he will be back in the self contained class in 30 days.’ HE NEVER WENT BACK!!! The second grade teachers last year took my son from basically a preschool level and got him to his second grade level all in one year!!!! He is in a new school this year and is excelling in an inclusion class!! NEVER let someone’s small mind about the spectrum dictate your child’s future!” —Doris P.
9. Why Do They Always Think It’s Mom’s Fault?!
“I have so many!
‘Your son’s problems didn’t start at school, they started with you when he was a toddler.'” —Connie S.R.M.
8. At Least Things Are Better Now Than They Once Were…
“My older son in 2005 was suspended every other week for hugging people in fourth grade. They didn’t think he needed OT or sensory supports in place. Didn’t want him on field trips as he couldn’t behave properly. At IEP meeting, regular ed. teacher said, ‘children like him shouldn’t be in regular school.’ I had an advocacy group there with me that day who told them they were violating several of my son’s rights and, if not fixed that day, would be hearing from their lawyer to sue them. Also oldest son who had all A’s: ‘He can’t have autism, he is too smart; he is very shy and just needs more discipline; when things bother him he throws a fit’ (meltdown or had shut downs). There is so much more awareness now than 10-15 years ago. Have a great school to work with my youngest son now so IEP is wonderful.” —Angela M.E.
7. Never Underestimate a Person!
“My experience with an IEP meeting one time was so sad. It was one person in the group who said ‘oh, the best thing your son could ever do is work in a file room all by himself.’ Well guess what, person: he got an associate’s degree in fire science, he passed the Fireman’s exam, he drives, and he’s awesome, no thanks to you. Oh, forgot to add he finds his own jobs………” —Yolanda L.
6. What Even?!
“‘We suspect your son has other undiagnosed learning disabilities that he should be tested for. Also, please sign this document invalidating his IEP and releasing him from special education services.’ WHAT? No way did I sign, and they seriously got really upset!” —Jennifer D.
5. People Forget That Autistic Kids Think Literally
“‘Your 8 year-old son may be psychotic.’
‘Why do you say that?’
‘He told me he hears voices in his head.’
‘How did you find this out?’
‘I asked him if he heard voices in his head. He said yes.’
‘He’s autistic. Of course he answered yes. He was literally hearing your voice in his head when you asked the question.’
End result: my lead ABA therapist avoided psych eval and possible commitment to a psych ward/drugs for my son because of idiot school psychologist’s ‘assessment.’ Son is now 16 and doing great. Has never had a psychotic episode in his life.” —Natasha M.
4. Wow, They Can’t Seem to Make Up Their Minds, Can They?
“My daughter was denied for an IEP by the same three people (including a vice principal and school counselor) that recommended that we apply for it. Also in the room? My daughter’s private, state-issued counselor to help state our case.
“The reason? Her behaviors (which were caused by her mental conditions) was the issue. Not her learning.” —Scott L.
3. LOL At Professionals Who Think There’s a Magic “Cure” for Autism
“The school psychologist said my sons diagnoses (OCD, SPD, Tourettes, anxiety, dyspraxia, dysgraphia, ADHD) could be cured with a probiotic and he really didn’t need an IEP…HAHAHAHA. Seriously??” —Connie C.V.
2. You Know What They Say Happens When You Make Assumptions…
“In jr. high from the math teacher: ‘I’m sure you [parents] will sue me if your son doesn’t get an A or a B in my class, so I refuse to have him be one of my students’ (the principal actually supported this jerk and caused my son’s entire schedule to be changed around, defeating the purpose of keeping to a consistent routine) —Lisa S.
1. You’re a Great Mom, Ann!
Was it the principal saying ‘Our goal is to make your child indistinguishable from his typical peers.’ (To which I told him firmly that I did NOT want that. I wanted him accepted for the autistic and gifted child that he is.)
‘Sorry, one-on-one aides in our district are not allowed to attend IEP meetings or have any contact with the parents.’
‘No, he can’t have _____ (insert weighted vest, therapy ball, or any other tool that *I* offered to purchase and provide at no cost to the school) in class, because it would make him seem too different.’
‘We think that there must be some issues at home because your son is not having any behavioral issues at school, but you are reporting daily major meltdowns as soon as he gets home. Since the meltdowns are happening at home, there must be problems at home.’ They had NO CLUE how hard my son worked every day to hold everything in at school because he didn’t feel safe at school, then he melted down as soon as he was safe at home. And then, they had the nerve to blame ME for his meltdowns. Ugh.
Yeah…we lasted all of 1-1/2 years at that school before I was not able to deal with fighting them every day. I withdrew my son and homeschooled instead.” —Ann A.L.
Bonus: A Positive Experience
“Am I one of the few who have had great experiences during IEP meetings for my son and daughter? We all always leave feeling unified and optimistic….their IEP teams are really amazing…their special ed teacher is new to the game but he is so outstanding!! He really gets it with the kids and I’m really going to miss him once the kids move on to the higher grades….I wish others could have such a positive experience!!” —Michelle E.S.
A. Stout received a Bachelor of Arts in Writing through Grand Valley State University, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 2015. In addition to being a passionate autism advocate, she is a member of various fandoms, a study abroad alumna, and an animal lover. She dreams of publishing novels and traveling all over the world someday.