IEP's Saved My Middle School Life

Dear You,

While I have been wrapping my head around what to say to you, what advice to give to you, what lesson to share, I forgot the important fact that you need to know me first.

So, hello! I'm Devyn Shea and I love to act on stage. I also love to hang out with my friends, and currently I am a sales specialist and love to work with clientele. It wasn't always like this though, you know, "normal life with family, friends, a boyfriend, and job". So let me take you back to the beginning a bit....back to the horrors that was middle school.

This was me in in 8th grade, and the glowing eyes to the right is Mateo. He was our chihuahua we rescued and kissed bald for 12 years. True story! But I digress....

Middle school was the most difficult time for me. Hormones are bad enough for a growing teen, now add Tourettes and all that other diagnoses in the mix. What helped me though was the coping mechanisms and the IEP's I had with my teachers.

For those of you new to the scene IEP stands for Individualized Education Program. They are a set of guidelines agreed by the teachers, school, and parents that allow special accommodations for student in need to receive special educational services.

For more information on IEP's please visit the Tourette Association of America.

For example: in middle school I had two sets of the same text books. One set I kept in my locker for school only and the other set stayed at home. One of my anxieties was I would forget my homework. No matter what logic you threw at me you could not convince me otherwise to calm me down.

Another IEP accommodation I had was my seating location. I felt better sitting by the door of the classroom because it helped me feel like I could breathe and if I needed to take a step away from an anxious situation I wasn't far from the door.

My absolute favorite accommodation was what I called, "my get out of jail free card". It was a hall pass signed by my guidance councilor that never expired. I used this in absolute panic attack, high freak out moments. If my anxiety got to a certain point I couldn't talk. I would shut down. So all I had to do is show the pass to my teacher and they would let me go to the guidance councilor, no questions asked.

If any of these tools I had sound like they could help you or your child in school, it's time to start getting that paperwork together. "But Devyn, where in the world do I start?!" Have no fear! That's what TS- I Love You is all about! The best place to start is to click this link. The Tourette Association of America is a great tool to use at your disposal, and we at TS- I Love You highly recommend it.

So there you have it. Middle school is always a new and awkward time for everyone, no matter if you have a diagnosis or not. Just remember to breathe, stay active and communicate with your friends and family, and the rest will fall into place.



TS- I Love You

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