Spring Ahead With an IEP Toolkit!
If a child has a learning disability, or some other form of disability, she is mostly likely on a school IEP (Individualized Education Program). What is an IEP? A written plan and legal document that states a child’s present level of functioning, specific areas that need special services, annual goals, short-term objectives, services to be provided, and the method of evaluation to be implemented for children 3 to 21 years of age who have been determined eligible for special education (Cook, Klein, & Tessier, 2004). The IEP team meeting typically consists of the special education director for the school, teachers, school specialists (OT, PT, and Speech) and the parents. This team develops the IEP for the child. The IEP meeting is usually held a month or two before the child’s upcoming birthday. A meeting can also be called upon at any time during the school year by the school or a parent if there are any concerns about the child that may require a change to the IEP. Parents also can invite others to attend the IEP meetings. These can include the child’s physician or specialist. Many parents bring in an educational advocate who understands the logistics of an IEP and speaks on the parent’s behalf. Notice must be given to the special education director if you plan on bringing such a person to the IEP meeting.
As a parent of a child with Autism, I will warn you that IEP meetings can be very stressful. Walking into one of those meetings unprepared will only add to that stress. Paperwork is voluminous with a child having a disability. And, although you try your best to organize all the reports and documents, sometimes it just gets out of hand. No fret! There are IEP toolkits available on the Internet that keep paperwork neatly in one place so that you can find it when you need it. Organize all supporting documents from doctors and specialists before the meeting. Adding these very important papers to the toolkit will help you find a document in a snap. Copies of reports from a specialist should be given ahead of time to the school special education director for review if you want to discuss the findings at a scheduled IEP meeting. My personal experience has shown you should at least give it to them two weeks in advance.
After working with IEPs for a few years, you’ll find the amount of paperwork won’t get any smaller. Updated evaluations will begin to pile up. To maintain all those papers with a minimum of stress, make it a goal to file them away each day. Papers that accumulate will make finding them difficult later on. Purchasing a filing cabinet and folders will keep the documents organized and available when needed. Color coded files are a great way to separate school documents from physicians/specialists (e.g., all red files for school, all blue files for doctors, etc.). Clearly label each file folder with a bold pen or marker. Having an index in front of the files is a fantastic way to know what exactly is in the file cabinet or file box. Each time you add a folder to the cabinet, write it to the index.
Organizing all of the paperwork that comes with a child having an IEP does not have to be complex or costly. Pick your method of how you want to organize and stay with it, fine tuning it only to suit your family and goals. Keeping it organized will make it easier on all of you.
Photo IEP Toolkit by www.organized4kids.com
FREE DOWNLOAD: Pre- IEP Worksheet
More IEP Help
- How can parents prepare for an IEP Meeting? (Part 1)
- How to Set Clear Goals and Plan Naturally
- Three Tips for Highlighting and Color-Coding Your Child’s Draft IEP
- Whether it’s Your First IEP or You’re a Pro: 10 things to Cover at the Meeting
- Requests Prior to IEP Meetings: Eval Reports and Draft IEPs
- The Politics of Special Education: The Information You Need Right Now
- Is the IEP Individualized or Cookie-Cutter?
- Rock Your Next IEP: Tips for a Successful IEP Meeting
- Beyond the IEP Team: 6 Tips for Parent Participation at School
- Should My Child Attend the IEP Meeting?
- IEP Meeting Overwhelm? How to Avoid It!
- Calm Your Nerves – Know What To Expect At An IEP Meeting
- The Importance of S.M.A.R.T IEP Goals
- IEP Prep: Using the Mama Bear Strategy
This post originally appeared on our March/April 2011 Magazine