I have a friend, Tayna, who has a six year old autistic child who is developmentally delayed and struggles with socialization and appropriate school-like behaviors.  We know that her daughter is incredibly smart but her challenges often mask her abilities.  As a friend, it is easy to see Tayna beat herself up on a regular basis because she knows what society expects of children and she wants her daughter to have a bright future and to be a contributor in one way or another.

It is difficult sometimes to talk with Tayna because she questions everything that she does.  After all, special needs children never come with a manual, not even the pediatrician can foresee the future and are only able to sometimes guide a good direction. The most important thing that I do as Tayna’s friend is support her decisions and remind her how wonderful she is.  Together we are able to celebrate the baby steps and laugh about the always changing nuances her child presents.  Tayna spends an amazing amount of time collecting data and analyzing data.  She is a true member of her IEP team and together communication is open and honest. There are always struggles and challenges but the only way to move through the challenges is with a team.

It takes hard work to develop a positive IEP team and Tayna is a newcomer.  However, she is strong and does know what is best for her child.  She commands attention and isn’t afraid to follow her decisions even when they cause heartache and tears. The best piece of advice that I can give Tayna as a friend is to never give up demanding the best for her child, no matter what…

A great resource for preparing and navigating IEP meetings is Individual Education Plan for Success can be purchased through

About talkcounts

Diana Loiewski has been teaching special needs students for over thirty years. She not only is a classroom high school teacher, she also serves as an administrative designee in IEP meetings, and case work trainer for the military Exceptional Family Member Program. In addition, she presents on special education topics all over the country and is a co author of Individual Education Plan Workbook for Success, and Healthy Relationships a multimedia workbook for special education teens and adults. ___________________________________________________________________ Elizabeth Dominick is the parent of an 18-year-old special needs student. Elizabeth and her husband navigated the special needs odyssey from the time their son was 3 years old to the present. She and her husband have placed their son in both public and private settings and have worked with attorney advocates to get better services. Ultimately, they ended up educating themselves on special education law. Elizabeth is a past reporter and editor and currently writes parent meditations and other articles for __________________________________________________________________ Sharon McCormick is a special education teacher and blogger. She has been in the classroom for over fifteen years. Prior to that time, she worked with emotionally disturbed youth in residential and group home settings. She is clever and creative and enjoys supporting students with special education needs. ___________________________________________________________________________ Renee Tompkins is a graduate of Illinois State University with a Master’s Degree in Speech and Language Services. She is an amazing and energetic professional with fifteen years of experience working directly with special needs students. She also serves as a board member of the Special Education Foundation and supports fundraising efforts for teachers within the Poway Unified School District. She is currently employed with the Poway Unified School District and she delivers services to both groups and individuals in the transition program working with adults eighteen-years-- twenty-two years of age. Her current responsibilities include organizing and running a healthy relationship program with both men and women with intellectual disabilities.
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