Being the parent of a special needs child can present unique challenges that need to be met. If your child is just starting school and you've been scheduled for an Individualized Education Program (abbreviated as IEP) meeting to discuss what services they will need throughout the day in their classes, you might be nervous. At the meeting, there will be a team of school representatives there who might dispute your desire for particular services or accommodations you believe your child needs. Use these three suggestions to help you determine what you must do to get what your child needs.
Before doing anything else, it's important to be prepared. You must know what kinds of services you want for your child, and more importantly, you need to have documentation from a health care provider that bolsters your position. For example, if you want your child to have one-on-one attention, you may want to bring a letter from your child's psychologist about why that is recommended.
Talk to Other Parents
One of the smartest things you can do to prepare for your own IEP meeting is to chat with parents of other special education children who have already had their own meetings. They can tell you more about their own experiences and offer you suggestions and ideas for your upcoming meeting. They can tell you what they had wished that they knew when they were in your position so that you know what mistakes you've got to avoid. After talking to parents who know what the meetings are like, you might feel more calm and informed about the entire situation.
When it is finally time for the IEP meeting, it is easy to feel somewhat intimidated as the school representatives tell you what they can and cannot do for your child. However, it's important that you listen to everything being said and take notes accordingly. These notes will help you if you choose to take further action when the meeting is over. If they say they cannot allow your child to be in a mainstream reading class even if you believe they are capable of succeeding there, for instance, write down their rationale so you can follow up in an appeal or with an attorney.
An IEP meeting can be stressful, but if you use the suggestions laid out here, you should be more prepared and confident about the outcome. Speak to a special education attorney like those found at the Law Office of Mark W Voigt, who can be your advocate and accompany you to these meetings, in order to ensure proper treatment of your child.