Who Knows Best?

Melissa Wiley has posted about her adventures with trying to change the IEP plan for her son. She did prevail, but it took a lot of focus on her part to convince the team she was correct.

In her state, once the IEP is signed, the child is considered part of the system. The only way to change services is if the appropriate school district person agrees with the changes. She is not sure what other state laws are, and neither am I but from the comments on her blog and in other reading around the blogosphere, it seems that the other states have similar laws.

One of the worst things about Melissa’s adventure was the action of “Pam”, the person who worked with her son the most. Melissa had discussed the change she wanted to make with the speech therapist, and the therapist did tell her that a meeting would have to be set up with the whole team.

What Melissa didn’t know until she was at the meeting, was that Pam disagreed with the change:

“Not that her anguish excuses her for failing to tell me in advance what she was going to do—if she wasn’t going to recommend cutting back to one session, there was really no point in having the meeting. No need to assemble the panel if you aren’t going to change the paperwork. Really, what it means is that she didn’t have the courage to tell me herself—she let the district rep, a stranger, do the dirty work for her—and in quite intimidating circumstances.”

Melissa must be a better person than I, because I would not be able to have the same level of confidence in Pam that I had before. Yes, allow her to work with my child, but I would have to operate on the assumption that she would sandbag me again, should there be another disagreement about the IEP.

She also points out that the meeting itself was not hostile, and everyone there is dedicated to their job, which sometimes makes it harder to stand up to authority. They were discussing some other options some of which she considered, but she had the foresight to ask what if that one didn’t work, and she wanted a change again? She was told they’d have to another meeting, just like this one. Her response:

“In that case,” I said, “we can stop talking about this option right now. And it’s too bad, because I do think there are some strong arguments in its favor. But I can’t take the risk of running into another situation like this one. If there is any possibility of my having to walk back into this room and be told by a panel of people that I can’t do what I know to be in the best interests of my own child, then forget it.”

Bravo, Melissa! And yet, even with her determination, she almost got sucked back into doing the thing she was fighting against:

“I almost missed the fact that opting for a two-hour dropoff at the preschool would have meant increasing the level of service—when here I was fighting to decrease it in the first place.

I almost missed the fact that dropoff therapy would negate the most important aspect of our therapy experience: I wouldn’t be there to learn techniques and activities to use at home.

It rather amazes me, now, looking back at the meeting, that I came close to making such a colossal mistake.”

I know why she almost made that colossal mistake-she points out how hard it is to be under that much pressure and facing disapproval from the authority figures, and how one begins to compromise so you are not branded a trouble maker.

She’s right, it is hard to keep your focus, which is what these authority figures are trained to do by using the Hegelian Dialectic. Here’s an excerpt of how this works, written by Paul Proctor:

A group gathers, and has agreed beforehand that each in attendance will ultimately surrender his or her own personal position on any given issue to the will or “consensus” of the group after *processing to consensus* through dialog. In a Christian setting, the presupposition is that the group’s will determines “the will of God”. The group’s “facilitator”, whoever that may be, mediates between sides, be they “good and evil”, “for and against”, “republican and democrat”, “liberal and conservative”, etc., whatever the case may be, often instigating heated confrontations between the opposing sides for the purpose of suggesting compromise as the perfect solution to restore and maintain the peace and the relationships of everyone involved. The resulting outcome or *consensus* is then re-introduced if necessary, at the next meeting for more “Praxis,” more dialog and more compromise until another “consensus” is reached. Then the”process” repeats all over again…and again…and again until the facilitator’s desired outcome is achieved. Over time, the convictions and concerns anyone may have had originally are processed away beyond recognition or relevance leaving one and all to accept the facilitator’s pre-determined outcome as the consensus of the group. It’s no longer a question of what is right or wrong, good or bad, lawful or unlawful, but rather HOW WE ALL FEEL ABOUT IT…no absolutes, no conscience, no convictions, no laws, no Constitution, no Bible and NO GOD!!!…only consensus….and a contrived consensus at that. Pretty slick huh? That’s the Hegelian Dialectic.”

That’s what happened at this meeting: Melissa wanted a reduction in services. The team has decided they don’t want that and hoped to win Melissa over with the supposition that they know what’s best and to keep good relationships between the team and Melissa. After a while they suggested the preschool option, hoping to get her to agree to what they had already decided would be best for her son. That’s the Hegelian Dialectic in action, and Melissa almost got caught in it.

Melissa prevailed and also brought them up short with this comment:

“What you are saying—what several of you have articulated very clearly—is that you agree that because we do so much work with Wonderboy at home, and because his life is filled with so many other appointments eating up our time, and because he is making such terrific progress, it makes sense to cut back to one speech therapy session a week. But you say you can’t agree to that change because it doesn’t look good on paper. Pam, what you said was, ‘On paper it’s hard to justify a reduction of services for a child with that level of need.’ So what I’m hearing is that you are going to stick to a decision we all agree is not in the best interests of this specific child, because of a fear of how it looks on paper.”

Not only were they working the Hegelian dialectic on her, but they were also victims of it themselves. She’s right-how silly to be afraid of how something looks on paper.

Now I know why the Bible has so many verses on not being afraid of man, and how important it is to have a strong mind and not be taken in by the words of others.

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