Special Needs IEP Tips
The special education advisory council posted the following advice on how to “deal” with your child’s IEP. Their advice is invaluable. More information can be found on their website here.
Preparation is a must!
If itâ€™s a MET meeting, you need the evaluation to review. Request to meet with the psych beforehand if need be. Donâ€™t try to do the IEP in the same meeting as the MET; itâ€™s too much. Ask to see the goals and a draft beforehand so you arenâ€™t rushed to read through it on the spot.
Make a wish list
Donâ€™t go in with too many little things, it will distract everyone and tie up too much time on small points. Go in with your big list of 5. Donâ€™t get sidetracked. Stick to the points.
If there is a possible conflicting view on services or placement and you think there will be opposition, do your research. Find studies or research to back your views as well as data on your own child that proves your point. This can include home video, work samples from home or anything you think may convey your viewpoint.
Yes, bring treats. Whether you agree with everyone or think they are doing a good job, most likely people are trying very hard and want whatâ€™s best for your child. By bringing something, you set the tone for a friendly meeting and show some gratitude for their work (or the work they will be doing!)
Include your child
Depending on age or severity of disability, the child should somehow be included. If they are young or content is inappropriate they can come in the beginning and say hi. Have them bake cookies for the meeting or take video to show that includes an interview. Put a picture in the middle of the table everyone can all remember that itâ€™s the child and what they need- not individual positions.
Regroup when needed
Bring something to sip on when youâ€™re getting upset and need to pause. Leave the room to regain composure if you are getting really upset to gain some clarity. Itâ€™s better than saying something harmful. The team will wait.
Take your time
You are only signing that you are in attendance. This is a working document. Hopefully, your relationship and participation will continue throughout the year. This document can be amended or tweaked at any time.
Make sure the â€œpresent levelâ€ is accurate
The present level in the IEP is the picture of where your child currently is. This drives the goals, which drives the services and placement. If you feel the picture that is being painted isnâ€™t correct, explain why. Remember you donâ€™t see your child at school and they donâ€™t see them at your home. This is a time for both parties to get the whole picture of the child. You can include your own statement of the present level in the IEP. Definitely do this if there is a disagreement.
Learn the process
The more you know about the process, the more relaxed you will be. You will know what you can and can not do. You will know your rights and wonâ€™t feel so intimidated. You will be respected as an equal member of the team, not just an emotional parent.
Breathe and BE NICE
Honey catches more flies. Have confidence that you are the expert in your child and the team needs your help. And you need theirs. Your job is to help the team pull together all the parts. The experts all focus on their own specific area. You know the whole child, the big picture and where you think they can go. You donâ€™t need to learn every little detail of every area of expertise in order to be effective. You just need to make sure everyone is one the same page so everyone can be successful.
Send thank you cards after and donâ€™t disappear until next year. This is an ongoing process that needs work along the way. If you cultivate the team the whole year, the meeting will just be a formality and wonâ€™t be so scary.