At my first high school, my IEP was viewed as an inconvenience to a majority of the teachers and other staff at the school. It wasn’t fair to them that they had to create large print materials, let me type notes in class, or take tests without using bubble sheets. All of these accommodations were stupid in their eyes, and a lot of teachers assumed I didn’t need them- because glasses make you see perfectly, right? Well, for about a week when I was 16 and in the tenth grade, I let that mindset consume me.
I started wishing that my IEP would go away. Maybe then I could be treated like a normal student and not be bullied by so many teachers. I imagined getting assignments at the same time as everyone else, being able to use a pencil, and taking notes in a spiral notebook- all things that hadn’t happened in years.
I came to my parents and told them they should just get rid of my IEP, I don’t need it anymore. I want to be like the other kids, not stick out with my large print and my laptop. My parents told me I couldn’t do that, so to prove them wrong, I grabbed a random piece of paper from the table- probably an assignment of my sighted brother’s.
I couldn’t see a thing.
All of the lines were super blurry and stacked on top of each other. I started looking at the other papers, wondering if the other page was just made for ants and had freakishly small letters. I couldn’t read anything smaller than size 22 font…which is exactly what my IEP said.
I tried handwriting my notes one day in class, and realized I had no idea what they said. My dysgraphia made me unable to read my own handwriting, so these notes were basically useless. Plus, my print disability made it difficult to read handwriting in general.
Eventually, I accepted that I really needed the services provided to me in my IEP, and that going without them would end in disaster. I was comforted when a close friend of mine told me they went through a similar period of wanting to go without their IEP for a learning disability, and how the words of teachers could really get to them sometimes as well. Sharing our experiences really helped both of us realize how our needs for services are valid.
I am grateful for all of the services I received through my IEP, and recognize that there are many students who were not given the same opportunities I had. I know that without my IEP, I would have failed all of my classes and be more likely to believe that I was incapable of learning. But when I did receive my services, I was able to thrive in the educational environment, and beyond.