At my first high school, my IEP was viewed as an inconvenience. It wasn’t fair to the teachers and staff 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. 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, that mindset would consume me.
Imagining life without an IEP
I started wishing that my IEP would go away. Maybe then I could be treated like a normal student and not be a victim of bullying. Some of the things I imagined included:
- Getting assignments at the same time as everyone else
- Reading the small print in books and on worksheets
- Being able to use a pencil
- Taking notes in a spiral notebook
- Walking through the halls without crashing into a trash can
- Not having my eyes burning from lights
My great idea
I came to my parents and told them they should just get rid of my IEP, I don’t need it anymore. All I wanted was 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. It was impossible to 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.
Here’s what life at school would really look like for me without an IEP:
- Taking much, much longer to do assignments than anyone else due to inaccessible formats
- Straining my eyes to try to read print, even though it is futile
- Not being able to see my writing in pencil
- Taking notes that I couldn’t even read
- Crashing into obstacles in the hallway because there are so many people
- Constant eye pain
Not a very good life, is it?
Eventually, I accepted that I really needed the services provided to me in my IEP. Going without the services would end in disaster. A close friend of mine told me they went through a similar period of wanting to go without their IEP for a learning disability. They let the words of teachers 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. It’s important to 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.
- Not Graduating Early
- Seven Myths About IEP Students
- Dysgraphia Accommodations In The Classroom
- How Tinted Glasses Help My Light Sensitivity
- How Do People With Vision Impairments Navigate School Hallways?