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What It's Like Parenting a Child With an IEP

advocate autism disability parenting iep markeisha hall neurodivergent parent coach special education special needs Dec 29, 2022


Raising a child with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) can be a unique and challenging experience. As a parent, you may be feeling overwhelmed and uncertain of how to best support your child's educational needs. In this blog post, we will discuss what it is like to be a parent of a child with an IEP, including the challenges and rewards that come with it. With the right tools and support, you can successfully navigate the IEP process and help your child reach their full potential.

It can be isolating
Parenting a child with a special education Individualized Education Plan (IEP) can be a difficult journey. It can be isolating for both the parent and the child as they navigate their unique needs and challenges in an educational environment that isn’t always tailored to their needs. For parents, it may be hard to find support from other parents who are in a similar situation. It can also be difficult to get teachers, administrators and school boards to understand their child’s needs and offer the right level of support. There may be moments of frustration, guilt or sadness when your child’s disability is more pronounced than their peers’, or when there is a lack of understanding and resources. All of these feelings can add up to a feeling of isolation.

You become an advocate
When parenting a child with an IEP, you become an advocate for your child. You may have to communicate with your child's school or school district to ensure that your child is receiving the best possible special education. You need to understand the IEP process, be aware of educational laws, and become well-versed in special education terminology. Additionally, you should be familiar with your state's laws and regulations regarding special education. You'll need to be able to work with teachers, administrators, and other professionals to ensure that your child's IEP is properly implemented and that their educational needs are being met. Being an advocate for your child can be daunting, but it is a necessary role to help your child succeed.

You have to be organized
Having a child with a Individualized Education Program (IEP) requires parents to stay on top of their child's educational goals and progress. A big part of this is staying organized, from keeping up with all the paperwork to making sure IEP goals are being met. It can seem overwhelming at first, but by following a few simple steps you can make the process much smoother.
First, create a special education binder for your child. This will serve as your go-to resource for all things IEP-related. Include any documents that have been sent home from the school, such as evaluation reports and IEPs. It’s also a good idea to keep copies of any emails or correspondences between you and the school regarding your child’s IEP.
Next, make sure to keep track of important dates and deadlines. Your child's IEP will contain a timeline of when certain goals need to be met. Set reminders in your calendar so you won’t forget to follow up with the school when it's time to review your child's progress.
You should also track your child’s progress over time, both in terms of the goals outlined in their IEP and any other areas where they need extra help. Document any progress they make and note if they are struggling with any particular tasks or skills. Keeping detailed records will help you get a better understanding of how your child is progressing and what areas need more attention.
Organization is key when it comes to parenting a child with a IEP. By creating a special education binder and tracking important dates, goals, and progress, you can ensure that your child is getting the support and services they need to succeed.

You learn to celebrate the small victories
Raising a child with an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) can be a difficult journey. It is easy to get wrapped up in comparing your child’s development to the milestones of other children, but it is important to celebrate the progress and successes of your own special education student.
Although it may take longer for a child with special needs to reach certain milestones, they will reach them in their own way. That is why it is important to take the time to recognize and celebrate each victory as it comes. It could be something as simple as an increased focus in class or a new skill mastered. Each step forward is significant and should be treated as such.
These small victories are not only beneficial for the child, but for the parents as well. Celebrating the successes of your child allows you to look past the struggles of their special education journey and have something to be proud of. It can be difficult to stay positive when parenting a child with an IEP, so take the time to appreciate and recognize even the smallest accomplishments.

You develop a support network
Raising a child with a disability can be challenging and isolating, so it’s important to create a strong support network. Connecting with other parents who are also navigating the special education system can provide much-needed camaraderie and resources. There are numerous online and in-person support groups for parents of children with disabilities, and these can be invaluable. It can also be beneficial to connect with a professional therapist or counselor who is knowledgeable about the unique needs of families with a disabled child. Finding a therapist who specializes in working with children with disabilities can be very helpful in providing support, strategies, and advocacy skills. Having a strong support network of peers, family members, and professionals can make a world of difference when raising a child with a disability.

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