Studies have shown that one in six children are diagnosed with a developmental disability. IEP meetings are the only way to get the special accommodations needed so that your child can have a proper education. Failing to prepare for these meetings can disqualify you from having important accommodations and services. Here is a typical IEP meeting checklist followed by detailed descriptions below:
- Have a Gamplan
- Have Evidence
- Bring Support
- Go in knowing you are the Expert
- Relationship Management
You have to figure out what you want for your child. Do you want speech therapy? Do you want an in class aide? Do you want your child to be in special classroom? You might want speech therapy but have your child be in a regular classroom but with an in class aide. Or you might not want speech therapy and are prefer him being in a special classroom. There are a lot of combinations that you can make. Once you arrive at your ideal plan, call it Plan A.
By the way, have a Plan B. Schools don’t always give you what you first ask for. So figure out a plan that you can settle for.
You need reasons to show why your plan is the best. If you want speech therapy for your child, bring a report from a speech pathologist saying that your child needs it. If you disagree with the diagnosis of the school’s therapist, bring in your own independent evaluation of your child. You always need evidence to justify your plan.
Many parents fail to bring in the proper support at IEP meetings and later feel like they are outnumbered. IEP meetings are attended by teachers, principals, school therapists, and school district officials. It is easy to feel overwhelmed when you walk in unprepared. But you don’t have to be alone: you are allowed to bring in anybody that can reasonably contribute to the discussion. This includes therapists, pastors, and lawyers who are trained in special needs advocacy.
You are the Expert
Nobody knows your child better than you do. It doesn’t matter how many evaluations they have done by experts, at the end of the day only you know your child. Make that clear to them by demonstrating your knowledge. Don’t be afraid to speak up and state your observations. If you don’t then the school will run all over you.
You still have to be friends with your child’s teacher after the IEP meeting is over, so don’t burn bridges at the meeting. A good tip is to bring more than enough coffee and donuts to the meeting. Bring enough so that there are leftovers and suggest that they take the leftovers to the teachers lounge with a note saying that you brought them for all the teachers. Give $5 gift cards to your child’s teacher once in a while. Go on family field trips and help out so that the teacher isn’t overwhelmed.
Doing this will not only bring appreciation by your teachers, but they will share valuable information. Sometimes teachers will put you aside and tell you that your child’s therapist isn’t coming to class when he is supposed to. How would you know this had it not been for the teacher trusting you and sharing the information?
If you have any more questions about special needs trusts and IEP plans, contact me for a consultation at email@example.com or 626-432-1699 and ask to speak with me. Check out my website at www.lblawoffices.com.
Joseph Lee is a partner at Lee & Baghoomian, a boutique law firm with offices in Pasadena and Westlake Village handling estate planning and special needs advocacy.
Disclaimer: This blog post is not meant to be legal advice. No attorney-client relationship will be formed by this blog post.