Before You Go To An IEP Meeting

Nadia Shanab | autism, general advice, parenting, tips
24 Aug 2015

You think you know your child well. Absolutely you know her/him well in certain settings. School is a highly structured setting compared to any other setting. School setting puts some pressure on the child because there are a minimum requirements of discipline expected from each student. Ask for an in-class observation as well as play ground observation to get a realistic picture of how your child behaves in a school setting.

There is no doubt about it that parents are the best child’s advocates. The IEP (Individualized Education Program) team also has for mission to help the child get the best learning opportunities. The team can see the bigger picture, while the parents are focused on one single idea. The team is bound by a limited number of programs available within the district(s). Besides, services like speech, or occupational therapy, CAP (Comprehensive Autism Program), or counseling can be limited by the district’s budget too.

Some parents go to the IEP meetings ready for a fight. That is not going to help the child by any means. If parents adopt this attitude the team will become less cooperative. To get the best out of this meetings do the following:

Go prepared by gathering as much information/facts as you can about your child’s condition (diagnosis and progress over the previous years).

Find your child’s spot on the spectrum.

Be realistic, accept and admit your child’s needs and weaknesses, this is how she/he will get the most suitable placement.

Point out your child’s strengths.

Don’t insist on a one-on-one assistance until it proves to be an absolute necessity to function in a school setting. Remember that one of your goals is to help your child become independent.

Mainstreaming is also a goal, but should be gradually tested until it proves successful. Mainstreaming works for those who are on the higher side of the spectrum.

Tell the team about all the strategies and techniques that work for your child, make their job easier to allow them to better help your child.

Be a good listener and show your readiness to cooperate. Accept suggestions and follow through. Try them out and see.

Be an effective communicator. Keep your emails short and to the point. People have little time to read, besides they will miss the main idea of your email.

If appropriate take your child to these meetings, she/he may help the team reach the best agreement.

Taking a lawyer with you in the first meeting might polarize the team against you. Keep it for a future occasion if things get really complicated.

Know that some people are genuinely willing to help your child -even if they are not agreeing with your point of you- but at the end you are the decision maker. MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD, but don’t yell.

Stay connected and informed. Knowledge is power.

Know your rights.

The National Wrapraround Initiative

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Nadia Shanab

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