Your First IEP Meeting
Your First IEP Meeting
You walk into a room and you see at least 7 other people already sitting at a table. You are nervous. You feel like you could cry. You have met all of these people before but they are not familiar to you. You don’t KNOW them, and you don’t REALLY know if they are on your side. You have brought along someone you do trust, which is helpful, but you still feel a wave of emotions come over you. You sit down at the table. One person starts to talk and says, “Ok, let’s get started…” and it begins…Your first IEP meeting. Keep calm and remember to breathe.
When your child is born, and you learn that they are going to be delayed in life, more than likely you will be enrolled in an early intervention program through your state. For us, that program is called “Birth to 3” and it consisted of 3 different therapists coming into our home on a regular bases. Every week we had a Physical Therapist; every other week we had a Speech therapist; and once a month we had an Occupational Therapist. This may differ for you, it just depends on what your child needs. Now that our child is 3 years old, he has aged out of that program and will get integrated into our local school when the next school year starts.
When our son was about 2 ½ we started talking about how this transition process was going to work and what kind of things we could expect. We were told that the school has their own set of therapists, sometimes they work in the classroom, and sometimes they work in your home. We were told that each one of them will want to meet our son and are required to do an initial evaluation. Those evaluations will determine if he qualifies for the schools special needs education program. Over the next few months we met with the school teacher, the representative from the state that helps insure that the process goes smooth, and all 3 therapists. We went over any concerns that we had and what we would like to see him accomplish in the next year. Our sons’ goals will best be met by him going to school for 1 hour a week and them coming to our house for ½ hour a week.
We walked away from the evaluations with a good feeling, and over the course of the next few weeks, I reached out to social media and asked other people about their experiences. I got a book called “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education” by Amanda Morin. It was a good book to have. I wanted to know what questions to ask during the meeting. I wanted to know everyone else’s experiences. I wanted to be prepared.
No Need to Fight
All that prep work just prepared me for a fight. I WAS SO WRONG! I still had these fears as I walked into the meeting that day, and I even cried a little; but I never felt the need to fight with anyone. And I really think that everyone had our son’s best interest in mind. I am excited to see what the school year will bring, but I know that my baby, my 3 year old, will be just fine.
Tracy Felix: Tracy blogs about her life and challenges as a mom to a son with special needs. Her blog has provided a forum for parents to get support, share ideas, and learn. You can connect with her at www.facebook.com/xlinked1
Image courtesy of Pinterest found on Autism Day by Day blogspot.
More IEP Help
- How can parents prepare for an IEP Meeting? (Part 1)
- Pre- IEP Worksheet
- IEP Meeting Overwhelm? How to Avoid It!
- Rock Your Next IEP: Tips for a Successful IEP Meeting
- Big Picture of Parent Participation in an IEP Meeting
- Beyond the IEP Team: 6 Tips for Parent Participation at School
- Should My Child Attend the IEP Meeting?
- Calm Your Nerves – Know What To Expect At An IEP Meeting
- The Importance of S.M.A.R.T IEP Goals
This post originally appeared on our September/October 2015 Magazine