As a parent of a child with special needs, you will sometimes take on the role of an advocate. One of those moments when you will have to ensure your child's needs are being met is during the annual individualized education program, or IEP, meeting. The meeting can be stressful and challenging for many parents. Therefore, it is important to be prepared. Here are just a few ways you can guarantee you are ready for the meeting.
Know What Services Are Available
The school district has a number of services that are available to ensure that the needs of children with disabilities are being met. Although you might be familiar with some of the services, there are potentially some lesser known ones that your child could potentially benefit from that are not being mentioned by school officials.
Before the IEP meeting, contact the district and obtain a copy of the IEP form. You also need to ask for a list of services that are available for special needs children. With the form and list in hand, you can learn more about services that could be beneficial to your child and also know what possible goals and objectives the school could set to determine your child's progress.
Obtain Your Child's Records
For some parents, the first time they see the records that are used to develop the IEP is during the annual meeting. Unfortunately, this does not allow enough time for the parents to thoroughly assess their children's progression and future needs. At that point, they are left to depend on the school officials to make decisions regarding their children's educational program for the year.
To avoid this, you need to obtain copies of your child's records before the meeting. The records should not only include your child's file from school, but the results of any testing that was done and recommendations that are currently being made by school officials. You can use this information to develop your own plan for your child's education. At the meeting, you can share it with the officials.
Due to the importance of the IEP and the impact it can have on your child's future, consider working with a special education attorney. He or she can obtain the files needed to develop a plan for your child's educational needs and even help you take action if you do not agree with the IEP the school recommends.