IEP, what I’ve learned about them.

As an advocate, I have participated in several IEPs, as a parent, I have learned to be prepared to work with the team to get the best educational program for my girls.

  1. Adrianita -IEPBe Prepared

If it is the first time you attend an IEP you will probably be overwhelmed by all that will happen and all the people that will be at the meeting.

According to IDEA the people who need to be at the IEP are:

  • a- The parents of the child;
    b- At least one General education teacher of the child,
  • c- At least one special education teacher of the child,
  • d- A representative of the school or school district who knows about programs and resources available for the student and teachers;
    e- Remember those evaluations that were done on your student? The professional who did the evaluations and who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results (there may be more than one like the Occupational therapist, Physical therapist, Speech and language Pathologist, etc)
  • f- As a parent, you can invite anyone who you want there that can share information about your child, and
    g- whenever appropriate, the child with a disability. This is especially important when the child is working on transition goals when they leave school or post-secondary goals.
  •    2. Consult the child

This may sound silly, but have your ever asked your kid what they want to learn in school? What they want to be when they grow up? If there was something special they wanted to do? The reason this is important is because we want to make sure we can use their goals and dreams with the educational program and make sure they can accomplish these goals and dreams. Not only that but when our kids see us advocating for them, they will have a buy- in in the program we are working on designing for them. It is after all, their individualized education program!

  1. Consult the team

Sounds like an “of course” but how many times have we actually talked with each one of our kids teachers and therapists and asked what is it that they need to learn by the end of the school year? General education teachers have a curriculum to teach based on the state standards. The Special Education teacher is there to help modify the curriculum to make it accessible to the student, to help identify what accommodations and supports and services can be utilized to ensure the student can access the curriculum.

Ask each professional what is a good time to meet. Ask them for the goals they have for your kid, what they need to accomplish and how they intend to do it and how you can help.

  1. Lead the meeting

You now have all the information from all the professionals that are working with your kid. I have heard parents say that they hate going to IEP meetings, to me it is when I get to see how we are going to educate this kid that has some special needs and how are we going to work together to ensure we educate him or her.

There are some specific things that will happen during the meeting

  1. Present Levels of Educational and Functional Performance – for me this is the hardest part of the IEP. This is where you hear what your kid can and cannot do both academically and functionally. This is our launch pad, from here we build what we are going to do to ensure our kids gets the education they need.
  2. Annual Goals – this is what each one of the teachers and professionals want to accomplish with your student. Here is where you have input as well. Remember you have already talked with the teachers and therapists; you know what they want to do so now we work as a team so the whole team can work together and assist each other in accomplishing these goals.
  3. Individualized Supports and Services – This is probably one of the parts of the meeting that gets overlooked because it is at the end of the meeting and by then, most of us are already tired. This is where we look at what else we can do to ensure our kid is successful in school. There are any number of special factors that can come to play here like if our child has behavior issue, are they blind or visually impaired, do they have limited proficiency in English, are they hard of hearing or deaf, do they need assistive technology devices or services. Remember that you can talk about these things with your team before the meeting so by the time you get to the meeting you all have a sense of what the student may benefit from.
  1. Putting all together

The teacher may be able to put together a draft of what you discussed plus the information gathered from the different members of the team and send it to you before the meeting so you can see what the plan is for your student.

Once everyone has submitted their part at the meeting it will be written up in a document and that will be the guide for the upcoming educational year.

  1. Implementation

There are several points that we need to look at when implementing the IEP. According to the IDEA:

  1. the school will have the responsibility of implementing the IEP as soon as possible.
  2. The school is also responsible for letting the teachers both general and special education teachers as well as the related services personnel know about the IEP, have access to the IEP and know of any modifications and supports the student needs based on the IEP.

The school has the responsibility to implement the IEP as soon as possible. Some services might take a while to put together, but the responsibility of implementing the IEP is left up to the school. This does not mean that you as a parent can’t be checking and ensuring that the services are being delivered according to the IEP. You are a part of the IEP team, so feel free to communicate to the rest of the team and see how progress is going.

 

Luz Adriana

My name is Luz Adriana Martinez and for the past 27 years I have been working in the field of advocacy for children with disabilities. I hold an MBA from the University of Phoenix and a BA from the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico. I'm married to a great guy, Tito, an Army Veteran of 22 years, who supports all the crazy things I do. Being an Army wife also prepared us to be always on the move and without daddy for long periods of time. This also gave me the opportunity work and volunteer with organizations whose mission was to assist other military families. This blog results from my desire to give back to the many families that have given me and mine so much. I have had the fortune to be able to travel the world assisting military families and now that that stage of my life is over, I want to continue to share what I have learned in the hopes that I can still provide some information and resources to families who need it.

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