Every student who receives special education services has an individual education plan (IEP), and every parent can attest that the process of pushing and pulling together the yearly plan is painful.
One of our most memorable IEP meetings occurred when the subject of my daughter’s period dominated the conversation. She was making that big transition from middle school to high school. We weren’t nervous, but the high school sure was.
We gathered with a team of educators, therapists, counselors, and administrators to agree on our daughter’s goals for the coming year and the school’s promise to provide services to reach them.
I’ve learned over the years to wear my big girl panties to this party because no one escapes the occasional IEP meeting from hell. This one went straight down the toilet in minutes, with the unveiling of their first proposed goal:
1. Noelle will manage all of her personal hygiene needs independently, without assists.
Code words for her period.
Do we spot a stretch goal designed more for the benefit of staff than student?
“Believe me, no one wants to see it happen more than this guy,” I empathize, putting my arm around my husband. “He already knows more than he ever wanted to know about wings.”
Discomfort fills the air.
“Let’s talk about her period,” I suggest, as thought bubbles around the room shriek, “Let’s not!”
I express concern that this goal involving so many motor skills is not realistic for our kid with dyspraxia, a neurological disorder severely affecting motor planning and coordination.
I jump in with a few questions to get the conversation flowing:
How does the stall door lock in the girls’ bathroom?
How does the toilet paper dispenser work?
How does the toilet flush?
Where is the receptacle for personal hygiene products and how does it open?
How does the bathroom door unlock?
How do the faucets turn on and off?
How does the soap dispenser work?
What about hand drying?
We haven’t even gotten to the questions about sanitary napkins!
How will she get the darn thing out of the packaging and correctly place the adhesive side down?
Who can blame them for not having the answers? Who thinks about stuff like this? I wouldn’t, if I didn’t have to.
Have you ever paid attention to how many different kinds of door locks, toilet paper and soap dispensers, faucets, hand towels, and dryers are in every public restroom? For a kid who doesn’t transfer motor skills from one task to another, restrooms are learning laboratories.
But no, my daughter won’t be spending high school in the lavatory! Period.