For people who care for children with disabilities …
Jack and I are geared up for 2nd grade!! Jack flourished last year being in a self-contained classroom 51% of the time and mainstreamed 49% of the time with an aid. After some serious consideration, and understanding that the difficulty of required skills and content will continue to increase, my husband and I decided to take the same route this year with regard to time spent in special vs. regular ed.
In an effort to prepare for the upcoming IEP meeting, we’ve also spent some time thinking about the kinds of expectations we have for Jack this year. We have tried to jot those down so that we can compare our thoughts with the school’s thinking at the meeting. The thing we know for sure (so far) is that we would like to see more academic goals set and supported, as opposed to all life skills goals. We’ve also written down a list of questions, some we know the answer to and others we don’t, but it is a good way to show the IEP team that we are informed, we are paying attention and we will hold them accountable for their part. Here are some of my tips for getting the most out of your IEP meeting:
- Understand what services and accommodations your child is entitled to—all State Department of Education web sites post the rights and responsibilities of special education in that state; most even have a nice “parents’ guide” that contains plain language, help in understanding acronyms, IEP tips, RtI and the likes
- Know that if your child is entitled to a certain service or accommodation that the school is unable to provide, you may (in collaboration with the school) seek an outside entity to provide what’s missing
- Investigate service provisions in neighboring districts—particularly in the areas of OT, PT and Speech Therapy, and leverage that information when you are petitioning for the amount of time per week or per day your child will have access to these services.
- Remember that services pull your child out of something else. If you’re targeting academic goals, consider what class time your child will miss to receive these services—try to strike a balance that works for your child and the school with regard to academics, arts and socialization time slots.
- Ask what allowances or accommodations will be made for standardized tests—this is important. For example, if your child uses a writing accommodation, petition that this be allowed during testing too!
- Find out when your child will be evaluated again—ask them how to ensure your child’s IEP carries from grade to grade so that you don’t have to start from scratch each time.
- Require that milestones and steps are charted out to reflect how your child will meet the goals established.
- Set up communication loops with all parties: how often will you communicate, in what form will you communicate, i.e. phone, email, take home letter, homework book, etc.
If you have IEP meeting tips to share I would love to hear them!
I’ll let you know how it goes…
PS — Here are a few new shots of Jack—as you can see, we had a busy summer!!
Check out the photo of Jack playing baseball. We joined a new organization called Buddy Baseball—what a wonderful program. Email me if you want to learn more about this organization or see if they offer it in your town.