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When IEP meetings have you feeling ready to pull your hair out

If you have a child with a learning disability or other special needs, you almost certainly understand the frustration that comes with helping them get the "free and appropriate public education" which they are legally entitled to. Although school administrators and teachers often have good intentions, the reality of the situation is that time and money are tight, and paperwork sometimes becomes a substitute for real accommodations.

This feeling was perfectly described in a recent article in The Atlantic. The author, a woman named Tracy Thompson, tells her own story of trying to get help for her middle-school-aged daughter. And that process included endless meetings to discuss (productively and otherwise) her daughter's individualized education plan (IEP).

Thompson notes that her daughter has ADHD and an auditory processing disorder, among some other issues. But she is also extremely bright. Unfortunately, schools often fail to adequately accommodate these types of students for at least two reasons. First of all, their accommodations fall somewhere between needing a 504 plan (minor accommodation in the classroom) to more significant accommodations that may include dedicated aides and separate classrooms. The second reason is that learning disabilities of any kind are often equated with low intellect, when the opposite is often true.

If you have fought for years to make sure that your child receives a free and fair public education, you may find it cathartic to read Thompson's essay. At the very least, you can take some comfort knowing that other parents share your struggles and your passionate advocacy.

But if your hard work and dedication continues to yield only frustration, it may be time to seek outside help. If and when that time comes, please discuss your case with an experienced education law attorney.

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