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Tzvi Schectman
BY Tzvi Schectman

30 more ridiculous comments heard at an IEP Meeting

20 More Ridiculous IEP CommentsLast week Dennise Goldberg a special education advocate and mother of a child with special needs shared the Top Ten Most Ridiculous Comments Heard at an IEP Meeting.

Apparently many parents can relate as the post has been shared over 1,000 times and over 50 parents shared their own IEP experiences.

We took 30 of these comments and are re-posting them here for you to read, share and comment on.

Karen Wang
We’ve heard some good ones, too:

  • “From my perspective, there is no personality. There is only behavior.”
  • “We don’t consider reading to be a significant skill at this age.” (Child was 19 months old and reading, along with many other autistic traits.)
  • “He will receive the same services no matter what the diagnosis is.” (We moved to a different school district after that one; all subsequent IEPs have been wonderful since then.)

Larry Novak
Here’s a “good” one. I was sitting in our son’s IEP meeting in 2008 before we moved to Michigan. My wife had already walked out in disgust. I said “Before I sign it I have a couple of questions.” The PRINCIPAL of our son’s school looked at me and said “OH just sign it! I’m sick of your questions and sick of you!” The women from the school district had the most shocked look on their faces. I didn’t sign it as it was the end of the school year and I knew we were leaving anyway. Neither the principal nor his teacher wanted him at the school and they weren’t equipped to deal with a child who wasn’t a lemming. I’m so glad we left that city. As my mother would say, I only wish the principal twice whatever she wishes me.

gertie @ The Old Block House
“Your student no longer qualifies for an IEP or 504, because he’s doing so well.” He was doing well, because of what we had in place. Fortunately, he has teachers that understand his needs and all is going well. If it weren’t for those teachers, things might not be. This week we’re celebrating his first time on the Honor Roll with all A’s and B’s.

Ha! They said my 6 year old no longer needs an aid/supports because he was doing so well. So they removed them without telling me. Suddenly he’s throwing chairs and reverting into ‘Mario land’ again and they blame it on every little thing at home. 3 months later, with a new aid, they still haven’t been able to ‘fix the issue.’

When my son was in pres-school program I had a teacher start to cry at the IEP-I had asked her something about the PECS program and she looked at me funny–I said “ya know PECS Communication System—You DO know what that is, right??, I mean you are working with autistic kids, you must know” She started to cry, I got annoyed and said, “Oh no, you are not crying!!” & she left the meeting…..strange. It was shortly after that we were in litigation for out of district placement.–oh yea, we won :)

Erin Eyster-McKain
Have you ever heard this one? “We don’t believe your child has Autism so we are not acknowledging it or taking it into consideration when writing accommodations for him”

My favorite – the teacher who wrote OCD on the IEP.  My son has never been diagnosed with OCD.  She thinks he is ADHD and should have more medication.  I say she should understand what the word “individualized” means in the acronym IEP.

Concerned Parent
“If he learns sign language, how would we talk to him?”

Alicia Hart
Excellent post! I would add my own personal favorite ridiculous comment heard at my son’s IEP meeting last year, “I didn’t go to school to teach these kinds of kids.” My second favorite ridiculous comment, “Yeah, we don’t do that here.”

sarah gadzinski
trying to discuss why I thought the classroom the district wanted to place my daughter in was to low functioning for her….the speech therapist commented “why don’t you just bring a box of toys for her to play with then.” he was serious!

Michelle O’Neil
Once in an IEP meeting we had an elementary school principal stand up and get on a phone to God knows who, and announce, “These people have no idea what they are doing” because my husband and I disagreed with her plan to send our child with Asperger’s and debilitating anxiety into first grade with no support. She wanted to give the typical students a “signal” to leave the room if my child had a meltdown, so the teacher could deal with our daughter. If you need a “signal,” the child needs support.
Members of her staff sent private messages of apology afterward.

Carol Munro
It appears that things haven’t changed in the last 15-20 years. In an IEP meeting for my son who has phonological dyslexia, the school psychologist said, “It really doesn’t matter if he can read or write. He’ll have a secretary to do it for him.” He was referring to when my son would be grown and working, of course. The comment made me so infuriated and motivated me to fight even harder for my son’s education. So what’s he doing for a living now? He’s a performer and a WRITER. Some of his plays have been produced. Without a secretary.

Cindy Bevington Olmstead
Here’s one for you: He’s at the top of the group in reading, and really belongs in a higher level two steps up, but we can’t do anything about it because the group isn’t ready to move up. But don’t worry. We’ll go ahead & pass him, even though the rest of the group is going to have to repeat first grade.

I got 2 more for you. One for my friend, who’s son is 4. They told her her son is ‘only autistic at home.’ one for my 5 year old, whom they said, ‘although he is normal (my 5 year old has pdd-nos) we think his severe pervseveration (sic) of Mario is because him mom lets him play the game all day long, and needs to expand his experiances.’ uh… We banned Mario for like a month and he still played it… And how do you explain all the other autism symptoms? Lol

Amy Gould Caraballo
After just proclaiming she is extremely knowledgeable about Asperger’s Syndrome, from the mouth of a school psychologist after we suggested our son needed a sensory diet.
“Our cafeteria does not have the ability to provide this.”

Amanda Bird
My son has a learning disability and is two grades behind in reading. For his other subjects I dared to suggest that his tests not have long columns of matching because he can’t read it and process it all on that grade level. Everyone looked horrified and said, “But that would mean changing his tests! We can’t change tests!” Ummmm yes you can…it’s called MODIFICATIONS. But as that means more work for the teacher, I’m not surprised that they balked at the idea!

I could chime in with a couple brilliant ones, but my favorite would be “You need to accept the fact that your son (who was in 4th grade at the time) will never be able the to read and do basic math.  It is all the extra pressure you put on him that is causing the extreme anxiety.  Not that he is a classroom of kids who are doing above grade level work, we talked to him and and told him that it was OK that he couldn’t do anything in school but color”  or the behaviorist who did a 3rd level FBA on my son in May of 3rd grade and said he was fine, didn’t have any behavior problems that couldn’t be managed in the classroom, but just in case he was anxious he could get up and leave class ANYTIME HE WANTED and could come back when he wasn’t so anxious.  Next year they did a FBA (same idiot) and he is ruled emotionally disturbed with severe anti-social problems (behaviors were only observed in the autistic classroom, not in the mainstream classroom) and I should sign the paperwork to put him in RTF where he could get the specialize treatment he needed.  Yes we went to Due Process (twice actually for the same year, and mediation 3 times because the school district kept on pulling stupid stunts), and he is now in a great school that is just amazed at what his IEP says and ignores it because it is so far off.  Or how about the LEA saying that it was normal that my son’s IQ dropped from a 126 to a 68 and had nothing to do with the school.  They administered both test 3 years apart

Christine MacManus
My favorite quote in an IEP meeting was from another speech therapist. I worked in early intervention at the time and was at the initial IEP. She said “he didn’t talk so how do I know he needs speech therapy.”

Pamela Braue
It’s always interesting to hear the excuses that the Districts come up with.  My daughter has a critical illness as well as learning disabilities and ended up having a bone marrow transplant.  However, when questioned why they hadn’t been pushing her to her potential, they responded by saying, “Well, we didn’t push her educationally as we didn’t know how long she would live.  We focused more on her emotional stability in school.”  This comment was after her bone marrow transplant which cured her.  Two years earlier, this same case manager told me that my daughter would never read properly because of her dyslexia, and that I should prepare myself for that.  I told her that many people with dyslexia went on to do great things not only for this country but for the world.

I was told…. “with your sons diagnosis of PDD/NOS that doesn’t qualify him for all the service he needs. Because that is NOT an AUTISM diagnosis, so if you could get your doctor to change the diagnosis he would be able to get his one on one aid back..”
Now mind you he had a Aide last year with the SAME diagnosis that he has this year!

Some that we have heard about my son who has hemiplegic CP from a stroke in utero.

  • “He compensates well enough with his left hand, he doesn’t need therapy to improve his right hand.”
  • “If your Dr told you that with his neurological impairment that he would ever be fully functional then they were lying to you.”
  • “He is independent with putting his coat on, you just have to hold it open for him. He is independent pulling his pants up you just have to straighten them out for him before he can pull them up.” (I am pretty sure that is ASSISTED)

Wow! I have had the same problem. But i get told that my 15yr old is just lazy. I have been fighting with the school since he was in 5th grade telling them that they are not looking at the problem and choosing to ignore it.

Teresa Hepner-Martino
my contribution is…”We could put him in a social skills class..but he is nonverbal”….to which his current preschool speech teacher stated “he is NOT nonverbal..he communicates through his talker and can functionally communicate with peers…” So the IEP team was deciding my son had no social needs or skills based on type of language expression..ignorant..this in a top rated district…

During one of my child’s conference with the teacher, she told me multiple times that she did not know how to teach my child. He no longer goes to that school!

Cheryl Villa
Incrediby #8 & #9 have been said to me! I have also been told my son didn’t qualify for an aid unless he was a flight risk or a danger to others! Due to budget cuts we just can’t offer it! I took them to court and my son has aids! And the district paid for my attorney!!

Here is a video with actual audio of my son’s court case last year. I have moved school districts since and now love my son’s school program. He is now included 95% of his time in gen ed. However, the same school district is not allowing my 6 year old 1st grader to eat in the lunch room with her gen ed peers, she is having to go back to the sp ed room and doesn’t get to go out to recess after lunch. They told me yesterday at the IEP meeting that because she can not talk, no one at lunch would want to talk to her and that no one would want to sit by her. She does have regular students that are her friends. They are denying her the LRE to eat lunch in because she can not speak!

Candace Barnes
During an IEP meeting for my son I actually had a physical therapist say the following statement to me: “I don’t feel it appropriate to remove your son from the class setting to do physical therapy until he is a functioning walker but you are definitely welcome to take him out of school for therapy somewhere else.” (My child is in a wheelchair but is regaining the ability to walk and does so slowly with assistance.)
She did not feel it appropriate to remove him from the setting to the other side of the room to do therapy where he can still hear the lessons, but it was okay for me to completely remove him from the school.
We are getting ready for round two of this discussion with yet another meeting.
I just don’t understand how people can be so uncaring of the welfare of a child. After 12 years I am still continually amazed.
Candace Barnes

Joy Lazzara
Our school district’s “Autism Specialist” decided that after an hour of er playing with him, my son didn’t exhibit enough markers for her to label him ASD under their guidelines.She said he needs to meet at least 3 markers, and he meets the first two. She refused to look at any of the OTHER markers to see if he fits those. Instead she said “No, we go in order. Before we look at #4, he has to meet #3. He’s not violent and he’s aware of his surroundings, so he doesn’t meet the criteria needed for us to keep our funding.”

How about, “Your child doesn’t need help, he just needs to get beat up on the playground.” (Child has anxiety and dyspraxia)

Kryste Lillquist
Here’s my favorite….Yes we know your daughter is deaf and has a cochlear implant…but we are going to teach her to communicate with pictures and light swiches…LOL

A cochlear implant gives you hearing, my daughter is now a 1st grader and speaking and listening beautifully!

Tzvi Schectman

Written on January 26, 2012 by:

Tzvi Schectman is the Family Coordinator for the Friendship Circle of Michigan and the Editor of the the Friendship Circle Blog. You can connect with Tzvi on LinkedIn and Google+
  • CFU

    From the Principal: “A stoplight system is not something to be used in Gen Ed.  We have 20 kids per Gen Ed classroom!  It’s not appropriate for that environment. It might be for the Resource Room environment, and it is certainly appropriate for the Special Education classroom, but not the Gen Ed classroom”.  Then the district Autism Specialist spoke up and said “Actually, this is exactly the kind of support that is appropriate for Gen Ed, and we’ll implement that immediately”.  Ah, the look on the principal’s face is one I won’t forget for awhile 🙂  And, once implemented, the undesirable behavior stopped.

  • Larry Novak

    I’d like to add a couple of observations…

    The first is something we learned when we moved here to Michigan and got some experience in dealing with our son’s needs.  It has helped us to begin the conversation, be it with a school or an organization or pretty much everyone.  Two thiings: “Can you help us?” and “How can we help?”.  It seems to let them know that we aren’t demanding so much as letting them know that we want to be part of the process. 

    The other thing I learned years ago when there was a horrible hail storm and I was dealing with the insurance company on roof damage.  Every other house got a new roof and the first insurance adjuster offered $100.  I asked if there had been a miracle and my house was the only one that was spared.  I used a great phrase.  “That’s unacceptable”.  It took three adjusters and more use of “That’s unacceptable”, but in the end we got a new roof.  THAT was the miracle.  If in an IEP you hear some of the above comments, you should start with “That’s unacceptable”, and stand your ground.  Hey, it got State Farm to finally do its job.

  • Stacey

    I feel horrible for all of these but had to say
     facebook_Lisaaegan:     I get that it’s frustrating that the teachers are underprepared and undereducated, but to castigate the teacher to the point of tears when she/he is probably just as frustrated that she/he has never been educated either.  These teachers are thrown in, sometimes with one class in special ed issues from college and that’s it.  So to make fun a teacher who has been pushed by a system to the absolute limit is the least helpful and least humanizing action you could take in that situation.  If you want compassion and caring for your kids, try having the same for the teachers put in positions way beyond their ken.

    • Loni Schiess

      The problem is the districts don’t want to pay for those with experience and education they would rather go with cut rate teachers not giving them support thereby making the entire district look bad.  The districts need to pay for those of us who are qualified to teach in such a sector and not worry about the cost and then they wouldn’t have so much litigation because the teacher would be more qualified and educated to do the job!  They need to stop throwing brand new teachers into these jobs!

  • Jennifer Bennifer

    The school psychologist to a parent of a 12-year old with profound cognitive impairment, “your daughter won’t learn.”  No qualifying statement followed, like “your daughter won’t learn like other typical students,” or “your daughter needs modifications to help her learn;” just “your daughter won’t learn.”  I was mortified and as the SLP, immediately modified her statement out of anger and fact.  I can’t beleive that woman is allowed to work in a school facilitating IEP meetings.  Ugh!

  • This happened a couple years prior to finally giving up on the system to homeschool, which has been the best decision we ever made. Our autistic son was being moved from a WONDERFUL teacher because he was “too old” for that class. He was one of 3 students in the class and 1 was changing schools the following year. His teacher wanted to keep him another year which we were trilled with but the principle would not allow it. We never had a problem with IEP before this. Everyone was in approval to move to to another school in the district where there was a specialized class for autism. We were thrilled because this school had a wonderful reputation for working with autism and does a lot of focus on life skills while still educating. Even though we had approval from all the staff and supervisor for special needs in the district, we were warned that there was one more person who had to approve it and to expect it to be denied because she does not like our child’s teacher because she DOES TOO MUCH to help her students. It was denied as they said and after several ugly border lining harassing phone calls with said person who denied it and were told point blank..”go ahead and home or private school because we don’t care.” We spoke with the dept of education and eventually gave up and sent him to another school near our home because it was taking too long to get results. We should have pulled him then and there! First year at the new school was ok the following year our child to coaxed with toys and candy to tell someone from CPS that we hit him which was proven to be false accusations. Shortly there after while we were covering all our bases getting advised by HSLDA and our attorney who is a state rep. to be pulled to homeschool. Just our luck, our child broke 3 fingers at Judo classes (which were recommend by his pediatrician to assist in teaching him how to fall safely because he is fearless and would trow himself on the ground for deep sensory input) His last day at that school he came home from school with his splint/cast handing off his hand and purple fingers from cut-off circulation. His teacher and a OT in the school claimed they removed the splint because the teacher wanted to see if he could write!! We were advised that day to pull him and not send him back. Never regretted a day since, in less than 6 months he went from reading at a less than kindergarden level to a first/second grade level. Even his private therapists who he had been with since a toddler and his physicians have commented on the jump he made after leaving public school. Shortly after pulling him we had a call from the district because we pulled him and offered to keep the IEP but after I explained everything to the person on the phone and asked (with it in writing that we wanted the IEP closed) he mentioned a call he had with the school then congratulated us for doing the best thing we felt we could considering what our child went through in his last year there. Best of luck to anyone still under IEP. We know there could have been a major lawsuit against that teacher and our district on our behalf and the district was nice about it because of what could have happened if we pursued it but we were just glad to be done with it all. If we could have hired his previous teacher to be a full time private teacher for him we would have. I wish all kids special needs or not could have someone as good and caring as she its. Does too much to help her students my rear!! Pathetic excuse of a human to hurt kids because there are in a class with someone who does too much. More people need to do more to help our kids…not hurt them. Our district just got a new superintendent who seems to really want to fix our broken system so praying positive changes are made.

  • I have a 14 year old down syndrome son. So in the past years I have heard quite a few odd comments from the school system. The one that got to me was when I asked to see my son’s actual school work due to I had not received any classwork or homework for him. His IEP progress report was all SP. The Speech Therapist told me to leave the teaching up to the teacher and for me to worry about the parenting. I went off on her and asked if she had children (of course she did not) I then told her that I would worry about my son’s education and his future even if he was not disable. The Special Education Rep from the city was shocked at the behavior of my son’s team and took over the meeting. I have learned to always have an advocate and to invite the district advocate for the school.

  • I have been on both sides of the table at IEP meetings. I’m now an advocate and at my first meeting in that position I asked the OT about a dianogstic test for sensory preception disorder for the student I was advocating for. She said that she was not aware of that data for that particular assessment so could not give me an answer. As unopposing as possible I had to comment and say ” O.K. but you wrote the report”

  • The first day in full inclusion (with an untrained 1/1 aide) my non-verbal, profoundly autistic son had a meltdown and started hitting himself in the head. The next day I went to school to discuss the situation with the principle. In the meeting was the District’s full inclusion specialist, a woman with a MS in special education. She informed me they were very concerned because ‘a child only acts like this when he is the victim of abuse, a witness to physical abuse, or because he watches violent TV shows’ Really??? So Autism has nothing to do with it huh?

  • Lesley

    My son is 11 and has Asperger’s. He is a straight ‘A’ student. He has an IQ higher than most adults and retains almost everything he sees and hears. He is bored silly at the school and academically qualifies for the advanced placement program but they won’t let him attend because he needs an aide and has behavior issues. All I ever hear from them is,”Medicate him!” I refused and even had him evaluated at a Merck Clinic. The doctor there agreed with me….what the school called ADHD was, in fact, stim-seeking behavior and boredom. When the school was informed of these facts they simply ignored it like they have ignored anything anyone has tried to tell them. Fortunately, my son is brilliant :)…no prejudice here….and I ‘fix’ what they ‘break’ when he gets home. It takes time and it annoys me that I have to do it but my boy is worth it. 🙂

  • SusanM

    There are so many I can add to this list!  My son has NVLD, Aspergers, Anxiety etc. I heard “There’s nothing wrong with him. He’s just the victim of bad parenting.”  His school has an Autism “expert” who trains professionals, is a published author, and has a thriving Social Skills business outside of school. She handed me a “job description”  which she expected my son (8th grade at the time) and me to sign. It asked him to sign promising to refrain from bumping into walls in the hallway, “listen to others ideas and take turns talking about your thoughts”,”keep comments related to topics”, “when confused about a lesson or activity ask for help”. These are things that evaluators have noted are difficulties for him due to his disability!! He wouldn’t sign because he is completely unaware he does these things.

  • Hollie Greene

    Oh I have heard so many. My daughter was taken off her IEP going into kindergarten from preschool. I voiced my many concerns and was told, “You need to just stand back and let her fly and stop being such a high maintence parent!” Well about halfway through kindergarten her teacher contacted us and told us they needed to RTI. She asked me why my daughter was ever taken off an IEP.  Also the summer before 1st grade my daughter was diagnosed with cancer. During an IEP meeting I complained that they were not doing a sensory diet with her. The principal said, “So you are complaining that even though she is never here we are not doing our job.” My reply was, “No I am complaining that you are not doing your job when she is here!” The principal then proceeded to roll his eyes at me. During the rest of the meeting her checked his watch several times.

  • Carl

    my favorites:
    Your son can have an aide when my child gets one.

    I wasn’t at the staffings for your son as a member of the IEP team, so anything I said about when he could return to school doesn’t count.

    We won’t give your son the hour a day in the classroom to see how he does (he had just completed a residential program successfully). We think that he would be better served at the other school (which is 60 miles away.)

    He got that look in his eye, so I locked him in the room.  Now he has a pair of scissors and is threatening to use them….   (I race to the school thinking he is going to kill someone) I am sorry, I misread the situation, he just wanted to cut some paper.

    You can read about all of these and more over at my blog :

  • ALB

    I teach special educiton and write IEP’s and I am continually amazed at what my administrators say I cannot include because  “we don’t offer that”, “he is lazy”, and/or “we don’t have the staffing”…

  • Guest

     I have no idea why any parents would want to deal with this or put their children through any of this.  It is real simple….look back and remember the kids that had special needs and went to special ed when you were in school.  Those poor kids were bullied, picked on, and made to endure daily blows to their self-esteem.  I won’t even go into what I think about most teachers and administrators….they do not care and view our children as a burden.  I would, even go so far as to say; they don’t like our children either.  We cause them daily burden in the classroom.  Teachers are people and most people could not walk a day in our shoes.  The option was clear and simple for us: Home School.  After making this decision our son is doing better than he ever has and our family has peace.  We gave up putting a square peg in a round hole and are so much happier!!!!  We have decided to focus on what is important and that is for our son to function at home and in public. That was not possible while he was in a building where no one understood his needs or cared to take the time.  He was so stressed out from being subjected daily to the standards of others….he was unable to have a life.  Now he has a great life and can perform in public because he is no longer stressed out from having to deal with school, Think back how hard school was for you…and you were neuro-typical.  Just imagine what it must really feel like to our children.


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