Navigating the education system for your neurodivergent child can often feel like a daunting journey. Understanding and preparing for an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting is a crucial step on the path. As a parent, you’re not just a spectator; you’re a key advocate and voice for your child. Taking the time to prepare thoroughly can make a significant difference in the outcome of these meetings. Here are 10 essential steps to take before an IEP meeting:
1. Confirm the IEP Template
Different school districts might use varying IEP templates. Reach out to your case manager to confirm which format the team uses. This knowledge allows you to align your proposed goals and accommodations with the template’s structure, ensuring clarity and coherence in the meeting.
2. Confirm Meeting Attendees
Knowing who will attend the meeting helps set your expectations. If a key person, like the classroom teacher, won’t be present, it’s helpful to know this beforehand. This allows you to request their insights or ensure their input is included in some form.
3. Review Existing IEP
If your child already has an IEP, review it to understand what’s working and what isn’t. For new IEPs, assess any existing assessments or support plans. This review helps you identify areas of progress and aspects that need reevaluation or change.
4. Draft Proposed Goals & Objectives
Draft 2-3 realistic and achievable goals for your child, along with corresponding objectives and strategies. These should reflect your child’s current needs and potential for growth. Using the IEP template as a guide ensures that your proposals align with the format the team expects and uses.
5. Compose a List of Accommodation Requests
Prepare a concise list of accommodations that directly address your child’s primary needs. Having this list ready for the meeting keeps the focus on essential supports, facilitating a more efficient and effective discussion.
6. Prepare Neuro-Affirming Language
Language shapes perception. Make a list of the language and terms that affirm your child’s neurodivergence. Using this language consistently during the meeting sets a tone of respect and understanding, and encourages others to follow suit.
7. Prepare an About Me Profile Page
Start by creating a one-page profile that encapsulates your child’s unique needs and strengths. This document should highlight key challenges, specific triggers, and necessary accommodations. It’s not just a list; it’s a tool that paints a vivid picture of your child for the educators and specialists, ensuring they see more than just data and diagnoses.
8. Recruit Support
Bring along someone who can offer emotional support, take notes, or simply be a second set of ears. This support can be invaluable, especially in moments when you might be overwhelmed with information or emotion.
9. Decide How You Will Document
Plan how you will record the meeting’s details. This could be through detailed notes taken by your support person or, where legally permissible, an audio recording. This documentation is crucial for referring back to what was discussed and agreed upon.
10. Email the Team
A week before the meeting, send a collaborative and friendly email to the team. Include your draft goals, objectives, and accommodation list. This not only shows your preparedness but also sets a cooperative tone for the upcoming meeting.
Preparation is key to effectively advocating for your child’s educational needs. By following these steps, you equip yourself with the knowledge, documentation, and mindset needed to navigate the IEP meeting as successfully as possible. Remember, you are the expert on your child, and your involvement can make a world of difference in their educational experience.