Get Ready for Your First IEP Meeting
An Individualized Educational Program (IEP) must be put in place once you find out that your child is eligible for special education services. At the IEP meeting, the decisions regarding special education and related services are made so that an individualized educational plan can be created. But how do you get ready for your first IEP meeting?
First of all, please know that you are not alone. There are many other parents in the same situation, and there are people out there with answers who want to help.
Do some research so you can get as much as you can out of the existing system. Talk with other parents. Get on the internet. Don’t go into an IEP meeting uninformed. Get to know common terminology and find out what rights and options your child has, including educational programs, therapies, teaching approaches, advocacy, and state and federal financial benefits. Read more about what an IEP is here.
Talk with the Teacher
Most teachers care about your child and want what you want—success for your child. And they will probably agree that your child needs more than what he or she is receiving. But they’re all overwhelmed. Instead of blaming the teacher or the school, before the IEP meeting, ask for solutions that fit within the system. Partner with the teacher and the school’s administration and suggest how you can work together.
Don’t Hesitate to Ask Questions
You will most likely encounter multiple situations where every person you speak with—whether it is in an IEP meeting, at a resource center, on the phone with a government agency, or via email—they all know the system and the terminology much better than you. And they are all making crucial decisions about your child, whether you understand the language or not. It’s confusing and overwhelming, but you must not be afraid to ask questions. Never end a conversation until you completely understand what is being discussed and resolved.
Trust Your Instincts
Bottom line: you know your child best. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. There will be many people involved in your child’s future, including teachers, counselors, and therapists, and they are all working hard to ensure your child gets the best. But if your child is not improving, or his or her behavior tells you that something is off, trust yourself to make a change.
Don’t Take Things Personally
The IEP meeting is frustrating, not to mention emotionally exhausting and time-consuming. But remember that you’re dealing with a government system with limited resources. Focus on what is going right, what is available, and what positive actions you can take to keep everything moving forward. Keep in mind that there are alternative means of support that you can explore for your child. You might consider specialized tutoring or group programs with other kids with disabilities.
If you feel overwhelmed and you need help, please contact us.
American Disability Association is dedicated to the wellbeing and protection of children with disabilities and actively provides support to enhance their quality of life. Whether you are dealing with federal or state benefits or struggling with a school district to get proper education for your child, we have the resources to help you. Many individuals and families managing a disability are not aware of the wide array of services available to them, or they do not know how to apply for these benefits in a way that is likely to succeed.
Contact us for help. Dial (888) 323-2133 or email us at [email protected]