Should My Child Attend the IEP Meeting?
Should My Child Attend the IEP Meeting
Many parents attend their child’s IEP meeting and advocate for their child. But, when should your child attend the meeting? Now that the new school year is around the corner, IEPs may be reviewed and updated. Maybe you have waited and will now be asking for comprehensive evaluations to see if your child is eligible for ESE services or different services. No matter which situation, you may want your child to attend the meeting.
By law, your child should be invited to the IEP meetings when they turn 14 or when the IEP Team is discussing transition services. According to Section 300.321 of the IDEA Law1, the IEP Team should include the child when transition services/postsecondary goals are being discussed. According to the Florida Department of Education (in Florida), this begins at age 14 or earlier and may not end until 22 for students with significant disabilities. This would include transition services into high school to college/ vocational education, integrated employment, continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living and/ or participating in the community.3 Services for transition must be based on your child ’s needs, taking into account his/her skills, preferences, and interests. With your child’s attendance at the IEP table, he/she can personally discuss his/her interests and inform the Team with his/her own preferences, likes, about his/her involvement and agreement with the goals, etc. Their self-advocacy feedback is valuable as this is their future and they are self advocating with their wants also.
Your child does not have to wait until that transition meeting. I suggest to parents that you may want to introduce your child to the IEP at an earlier age. Your child does not have to stay for the full meeting, but you may want to have him/her come in and say a few words. You could practice with your child the night before so that they are prepared. At the meeting if it doesn’t go “as planned,” don’t worry. You want the Team to see and hear your child as he/she is, and if that includes a meltdown, that is okay too. (Don’t forget to reward your child when they get home. I know that slathering them with kisses at the meeting would probably not go over well! And I am speaking from experience!). Their voice is being heard by the Team and your child is able to see the others who are involved in their IEP and services. Even if they don’t fully understand it, get their feet wet at a meeting.
You, as a parent, will w ant to be cautious at any age if the Team is talking about evaluation results. These results should indicate strengths and weaknesses. With those results, the Team should have present levels and goals should be written. If your child is at the table, he/she would be able to weigh in on these goals, which is self advocacy. And that’s w hat it is all about! Your child would be able to say whether he/she would or would not agree with the goal. For example, if the Team is suggesting check-in and check-out with the secretary, if your child does not w ant to do a check-in/check-out, he/ she will not be on board and the goal will probably not be mastered. Ask your child w hat he/she would prefer so that the goal can be tweaked with your child’s input. This is w hat Advocacy is all about, and what the IEP Team should take into account.
For your older child, you could prepare the power point “I’m Determined”4 which will give the IEP Team a broader view of your child and can include com m unity involvement and future plans. Let your child self-advocate and present the power point himself/herself. This can be a strong statement for your child and will definitely give him/her a boost to their self-esteem!
Our children need to take these first steps at self-advocacy if they are to learn how to do it for their future endeavors. Give them that opportunity.
- http://www.fldoe.org/academics/exceptional-student-edu/secondary-transition.stml and http://www.parentcenterhub.org/repository/pa12/
Doreen Franklin is a Special Education Consultant & Private Tutor. She assists families with children with special needs with their IEPs. Doreen & her husband adopted two daughters; both are special needs. Doreen homeschooled their older daughter and tutors children privately.
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This post originally appeared on our July/August 2017 Magazine