Going to an Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting can be somewhat stressful if you want to ask for additional accommodations or services for your special needs student. However, as their parent, you owe it to them to be as strong an advocate as possible. In order to be heard and receive what you're asking for, start using the tips below to prepare for and participate in your next IEP meeting.
Have Documentation from Professionals
More than anything else, your greatest strength in an IEP meeting can be the amount of preparation you've done beforehand. One of the best ways to prepare is to be able to present documentation from professionals working with your child that supports your requests. For example, if you are asking that your child receive personal attention during certain parts of the day, presenting a note from a therapist can better help those in the IEP meeting to understand why that is necessary. Being able to back up your requests with professional advice can make it more likely that your child gets what they need to be successful.
Chat with Other Parents
Whether you get involved with a support group in your community or sign up for an online forum for parents with children like yours, being able to talk about IEP meetings with other parents can be extremely helpful. While you may be new to these kinds of meetings, other parents have been dealing with them for many years. They can provide ideas that you might not have considered and they can listen to your concerns and help you figure out how best to approach different issues with the education team at your child's school.
Write Down What The Education Team Says
One thing for you to do once the IEP meeting itself has started is to listen carefully. More importantly, write down as much as you can about the response to your requests. For example, if you would like your child to try a mainstream math class, if they refuse, make sure you note the exact words and reasoning they use. The reason to do this is that you may decide to seek further action and continue trying to get what you want; knowing their exact reasoning can be useful information if and when you retain a lawyer to assist you.
If you can use the information above, your next IEP meeting can be effective and fruitful for your child. Consult a good special education lawyer who can attend meetings with you and provide more advice.