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6 Things Parents Want to Know about IEP's

advocate autism disability parenting iep special education special needs Feb 24, 2023


Navigating the IEP process can be daunting for any parent. If you’re a parent trying to understand the IEP process, you are not alone. It’s important to understand the ins and outs of the IEP process to ensure your child is receiving the best possible education. In this blog post, we’ll discuss 6 important things that parents want to know about the IEP process, including what an IEP is, what’s included in an IEP, how to make sure your child’s needs are met, and more.

1) Who is on the IEP team?
The IEP (Individualized Education Program) team is a group of individuals who work together to create an individual plan for each student with special needs. The team usually consists of the student’s parents, teachers, and other school staff, such as the principal and guidance counselor. Depending on your child's needs, other experts may be included, such as a speech therapist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, school psychologist, or autism specialist. Parents are encouraged to bring a support person, who does not need to be an advocate, to IEP meetings. It’s important to remember that you have the right to speak up and advocate for your child during the IEP process.

2) How often do IEP meetings happen?
IEP meetings for your child should happen at least once a year, although some states and districts require them more frequently. The IEP meeting schedule can be flexible based on the specific needs of the student. During an IEP meeting, the IEP team will discuss your child's progress, any changes to their educational program, and the implementation of any accommodations that have been identified as necessary.
You should take an active role in the IEP process by advocating for your child’s needs. Parents should also ask questions at IEP meetings and provide input on any potential changes to their child’s educational program. If a parent is unable to attend an IEP meeting, they should make sure that someone else who knows your child's needs is present.

3) How do I prepare for an IEP meeting?
Preparing for an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting is an important step in advocating for your child’s education. As a parent of a child with a disability, it is essential that you are well-informed and prepared for the meeting to ensure your child's rights and best interests are represented.
Start by gathering all necessary documents such as any recent assessments or evaluations, records from school and outside service providers, and progress reports. This will help you get an overall picture of your child’s progress. Additionally, you can write down any questions and concerns you may have before the meeting. Also, be sure to bring your child to the IEP meeting if they are old enough to participate. This can help ensure their voice is heard and their specific needs are addressed.

By taking the necessary steps to prepare for an IEP meeting, you can be an effective advocate for your child and ensure that their special needs are met. You may also want to consider taking a course to become an advocate for your child with autism. This can help you become familiar with the process, understand the special needs of your child, and become an advocate for them in their educational journey. Through education, you can better understand the steps needed to ensure your child's rights and best interests are always represented.

4) How do I know if my child is making progress?
Keeping track of your child’s progress is an important part of advocating for their needs and making sure they are receiving the best services available. During IEP meetings, the team will review current goals, evaluate any progress or lack thereof, and discuss how to adjust the plan if needed. As a parent, you should pay close attention to any changes in your child’s behavior or development that may occur between IEP meetings. This can give you valuable insight into how the current plan is working for your special needs child.
It’s also important to communicate with other members of your child’s support system, such as teachers, therapists, and aides. Having ongoing dialogue with these professionals can provide you with a more detailed understanding of your child’s progress. For example, a teacher might report that while they are seeing small improvements in math, they are having difficulty with reading comprehension. This information can help inform the IEP team of any areas where further intervention may be necessary.

 Additionally, you should be receiving regular progress reports about your child’s individualized education plan (IEP) goals that are separate from their report card. This document should track your child’s progress towards their goals and show you how they are doing in relation to the established timeline. As a parent, it’s important to review this report and use your advocacy skills to make sure that your special needs child is receiving the services they need.

5) What are my rights as a parent?
As a parent of a child with a disability , you have certain rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). You have the right to participate in all aspects of your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings and to make decisions about your child’s educational plan. You also have the right to access records and request changes or modifications to the IEP.
It is important to understand that you have the right to ask questions and express your opinions throughout the IEP process. You can work with your child’s school to ensure that their educational goals are being met, and you can advocate for additional supports or services that may benefit your child. Additionally, you have the right to challenge decisions that you disagree with.
Finally, you have the right to be treated with respect and to receive clear communication from all members of your child’s IEP team. It is your responsibility as a parent to ensure that your child is receiving the best education possible and that their needs are being properly addressed. Knowing your rights as a parent will help you to better advocate for your child and their access to the school day.

6) Where can I go for more information?
If you have more questions or need more information on the IEP process, there are a few great resources available. The first place to start is the office of special education website. Here you can find detailed information on the IEP process, sample IEP forms, and tips for successful meetings. Your state’s Department of Education is another great resource. They provide detailed information on special needs services, support programs, and other important information. You can also connect with other parents through local and national parent groups. Many of these groups are made up of experienced parents who can help answer questions about the IEP process and share their advice. If you would like for us to work together, I offer a IEP Meetings Simplified Parent Guide, IEP Consults, and a private monthly membership group called PEP Squad Access (Parents Empowering Parents) and would love to take this journey with you.

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