• NeedQuest Blog Published on The Mighty

    August 10, 2017

    5 Things That Can Help You Stay Calm During an IEP Meeting

    By Leslie Crowe

    I write about Autism Spectrum Disorder.

    July 24, 2017

    For me, staying calms equals winning.

    When my son was younger, I could easily be close to tears before I even walked into an IEP meeting. Many of us know what an emotional rabbit hole this journey can be, and as parents ,we are coming from a much more vulnerable vantage point than the Principal, Director, teachers, therapists and entire team. Hopefully, they care deeply about your child (most do), but since they aren’t emotionally invested the way you are, they have a different perspective.

    1. Listen before speaking.

    Let the team speak first. Let them give you the update, express their thoughts and give you their intended direction before saying anything. Remember, listening is not agreeing. It’s demonstrating strength and control over your emotions. An overly emotional person can struggle to work collaboratively or if needed, disagree respectfully.

    1. Address one person at a time.

    After listening, think and speak thoughtfully. Try not to be impulsive or blurt anything out. When you do speak, look directly at the person you are addressing. This alleviates the potential “them vs. you” mindset (on both sides of the table) and moves the conversation to a more one-on-one discussion. For instance, if you have something to say regarding your child’s speech, look and speak directly to the speech therapist.

    1. No matter what you hear, continue to stay calm.

    Sadly, in some cases, you might hear the most outrageous statements or flat out lies during an IEP meeting. This can be absolutely infuriating. It will be all you can do not to yell out, “Do you even have a degree in special education?” But don’t do it. It might make you feel better momentarily, but it won’t help.

    Before my son went to his current school (which is amazing and they have always had my child’s interests at heart) I sat in a meeting where a psychologist told me my son’s IQ scores were low because the demands from 3-year-olds to 5-year-olds increase. Huh? Basically she said, “He was smart when he was 3 but now that he’s 5 he’s not smart anymore.” And she said it with a sad face, like, “Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.” Of course, it turned out she was wrong, but at the time I just wanted to scream at her sad face.

    1. Stay calm and know the truth will come out eventually.
    2. Be firm and friendly.

    If you disagree with anything said during the meeting, go ahead and speak your mind, but in a firm and friendly way. For instance, if you hear, “We feel the three year evaluation isn’t needed because services aren’t going to change…” Instead of saying something like, “Why would you not do the evaluation? Isn’t it the district’s responsibility to evaluate every three years?” You could say, “I understand you feel it won’t make a difference, but we might not always be in this district so I’d like to have the full evaluation in case something changes. Can we set a date for the full evaluation today so I can let my son know when to expect it?”

    This is less confrontational and allows them to meet the requirement without assuming there was any malice on their part (which there may or may not have been, many school districts are great, but sadly, some are misinformed and/or have no budget for special services so are constantly coming from a place of resistance).

    Ultimately, staying calm and non-emotional is hard. As a parent, it’s practically impossible to distance yourself from your own child — from what is essentially your own heart.

    However, once you recognize your vulnerabilities as a parent, you can take steps to listen, speak slowly and stay calm to stand your ground during IEPs. By doing this, you can emerge from the IEP meeting as a valuable and necessary part of the IEP team. And that, in and of itself, sets a course for your child in the right direction.

    Read the article on The Mighty.

  • HOW TO STAY CALM DURING AN IEP MEETING

    June 8, 2017

    STAYING CALM = WINNING

    When my son was younger, I could easily be close to tears before I even walked into the room for an IEP meeting. We all know what an emotional rabbit hole this journey is and as a parent we are coming from a much more vulnerable vantage point than the Principal, Director, teachers, therapists and entire child study team. Hopefully they care deeply about your child (most do), but since they aren’t emotionally invested the way you are, they have a different perspective.

    LISTEN BEFORE SPEAKING

    Let the team speak first. Let them give you the update, express their thoughts and give you their intended direction before saying anything. Remember, LISTENING IS NOT AGREEING. It’s demonstrating strength and authority over your own emotions. A calm and collected person is a person of strength and power. An overly emotional person is a person of weakness (in the moment) and won’t be in the position to work collaboratively or if needed, disagree respectfully.

    ADDRESS ONE PERSON AT A TIME

    After listening, think and speak thoughtfully. Try not to be impulsive or blurt anything out (easier said than done I know, especially in some awful cases when a team member says something completely mind blowing or an outright lie). When you do speak, look directly at the person you are addressing. This alleviates the potential “them v. you” mindset (on both sides of the table) and moves the conversation to a more one on one discussion. For instance, if you have something to say regarding your child’s speech, look and speak directly to the speech therapist.

    NO MATTER WHAT YOU HEAR…CONTINUE TO STAY CALM

    Sadly, in some cases, you might hear the most outrageous statements, ridiculous mistruths and flat out lies during an IEP meeting. This can be absolutely infuriating. It will be all you can do not to yell out, “Do you even have a degree in special education?” but DON’T DO IT. It might make you feel better momentarily but it won’t help.

    Before my son went to his current school (which is amazing and they have always had my child’s interests at heart) I sat in a meeting where a psychologist told me that my son’s IQ scores were low because the demands from 3 years old to 5 years old increase. Huh? Basically, she said “he was smart when he was 3 but now that he’s 5 he’s not smart anymore…” And she said it with a sad face, like, “sorry to be the bearer of bad news…” Of course, it turned out she was wrong but at the time, I just wanted to scream at her sad little face.

    STAY CALM AND KNOW THAT THE TRUTH WILL COME OUT EVENTUALLY.

    BE FIRM AND FRIENDLY

    If you disagree with anything that is said during the meeting, go ahead and speak your mind but in a firm and friendly way. For instance, if you hear, “We feel the 3-year evaluation isn’t needed because services aren’t going to change…” instead of saying something aggressive like, “Why would you not do the evaluation? Isn’t it the district’s responsibility to evaluate every 3 years?” you could say, “I understand you feel it won’t make a difference but we might not always be in this district so I’d like to have the full evaluation in case something changes. Can we set a date for the full evaluation today so I can let my son know when to expect it?”

    This is less confrontational and allows them to meet the requirement without assuming there was any malice on their part (which there may or may not have been, many school districts are great but sadly, some are misinformed and/or have no budget for special services so are constantly coming from a place of resistance).

    Ultimately, staying calm and non-emotional is very, very, very hard. As a parent it’s practically impossible to distance yourself from your own child…from what is essentially your own heart.

    However, this knowledge gives you power. Once you recognize your vulnerabilities as a parent you can take steps to LISTEN, SPEAK SLOWLY, and STAY CALM to combat them. By doing this, you can emerge from the IEP meeting as one of many powerful people in the room and that, in and of itself, sets a course for your child in the right direction.

  • Westfield Patch Features NeedQuest

    Westfield Patch Features NeedQuest

    December 4, 2016

    Westfield mom launches a local search directory that connects Union County parents of special needs children and service providers

    Westfield, NJ By May 3, 2016 3:11 pm ET

    Westfield, NJ — For years Leslie Crowe struggled with finding special needs service providers for her son.

    Jack Crowe was diagnosed with Aspergers at the age of three and needed a speech therapist.

    2016055728efb993423“It was a whole new world of special needs,” Crowe of Westfield told Patch. “I didn’t know where to start so I got out the Yellow Pages. It was very difficult back then.”

    Jack is now 14, and throughout his life Crowe struggled with finding the proper therapy or services he needed.

    “It’s always been a struggle,” Crowe said. “To this day I am still trying to find a good local therapist for Jack who has experience with Aspergers and takes our insurance.”

    Looking for a solution that Crowe was sure many other parents were also struggling with. Crowe started NeedQuest.com — an online local search directory to find special needs providers…

    Read More at: https://patch.com

  • TAPinto Westfield Features NeedQuest

    TAPinto Westfield Features NeedQuest

    March 17, 2016

    News from Nearby: Westfield Mom Launches Website to Pair Kids with Special Needs with Providers

    By MIKE COHEN
    May 17, 2016 at 10:16 PM

    WESTFIELD, NJ — It isn’t easy to find professional providers for kids with special needs, Westfield mom Leslie Crowe soon learned after her now 14-year-old son Jack was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at age three.

    “Especially when he was young,” said Crowe. “We were living in Brooklyn and there was just no central place to turn to as a resource.”

    With the goal of helping other parents of children with special needs avoid having to navigate the same maze that Crowe had to pick her way through, she developed the website NeedQuest.com. Her site officially launched in April.

    Read More

  • NeedQuest in NJ.com

    NeedQuest in NJ.com

    March 1, 2016

    Local mom bridges the gap between parents and special needs service providers

    By Community Bulletin
    on June 01, 2016 at 10:56 AM

    Officially launched this April, NeedQuest.com is an innovative take on something that’s become quite familiar in the 21st century: the online local search directory.

    However, what sets NeedQuest apart from other similar websites is two-fold. In addition to being a community-building site that directly connects parents of special needs children in the greater Westfield area with reputable service providers located right in their backyards, this new website is also founded by a local parent of a special needs child.

    Read More