Rock Your Next IEP: Tips for a Successful IEP Meeting
Tips for a Successful IEP Meeting
If you are like me, you begin stressing weeks prior to your IEP meeting! Then the anxiety sets in – where is my child (present levels), she didn’t master her goals, he is not on grade level – and then you are apprehensive and nervous about what the new IEP will look like. You wonder if the child you see at home is the “same” as at school. There are positive steps you can take to make your meeting more successful.
When you receive your meeting notice, you can email a request to receive a copy of the draft IEP 3-5 days prior to the scheduled meeting. Once you receive the draft, you read thru it carefully and highlight your concerns. You will want to use those concerns as a starting point to convert them into questions; you can also create an “agenda” of items you want to discuss. You should also know your child’s strengths & weaknesses and see if they are reflected in the present levels under each domain. (NOTE: make sure the present levels have been updated since the prior IEP; I have seen the same present levels on the draft which means the draft has not been updated!).
You will also want to know your Rights & Responsibilities (found in the Procedural Safeguards) and familiarize yourself with asking for Prior Written Notice/ Notice of Refusal. Bring others to your meeting to support you (friends, advocate) or who have knowledge of your child (private service providers).
Parents should also consider your child attending the IEP meeting, even if only for an introduction to the Team. I usually suggest that you have your child come into the meeting, introduce your child to the Team, and ask your child if they have anything to say to the Team (you would already prep him/her on what he/she wants to tell the Team and they can read what they want to say to the Team). This will be an initial step in learning to self-advocate at the meeting; your child will also see the number of people who are involved in the IEP decisions making process. And, if you practice at home and your child shuts down at the meeting, that is okay too. At least your child sees the Team and has tried to self-advocate! (This is a first step and your child will build his/her confidence up). If your child cannot attend, bring 3-4 family pics to pass around at the table. There are probably attendees who have not seen your child; the pics will also show your child enjoying time with friends & family at home and in the community.
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