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SPECIAL EDUCATION E-NEWSLETTER

VOLUME 1.3

"PREPARING FOR YOUR CHILD'S IEP"

If you are like many parents, when you receive a phone call or a letter asking for your attendance at your child’s IEP meeting, you start to feel anxious.  You may feel anxiety, confusion, or even feel inadequate at these meetings.  What should you do? Say? What is your role while sitting with your child’s team?

 

You, as your child’s parent are the expert.  You make casual observations about your child in hundreds of different situations.

 

Preparing for a Team meeting can be a stressful time, but if you take the time before the meeting you will be better prepared to help meet the needs and progress of your child’s education and social development.


Gathering All The Information


 

Gather your child’s progress reports from the last IEP.  Review the progress that each of the progress reports state.  As you are reading them think about the progress toward these goals you see at home.  If your child has a goal related to organization, are you able to see that progress at home? Is your child able to keep an agenda notebook with all the necessary information readily available to them? Is he/she able to follow thru with an assignment from start to finish without support?  If you can say yes to this, you know your child has reached that goal.  If not, what type of support does your child still need?  Does he/she  need reminders about  assignments? Does he/she need help with breaking instructions down into smaller “chunks”? If that has been a goal, you may want to have that goal continued but with different benchmarks to support independence.  Do this with each goal within the IEP.  This will help you understand and see what progress your child has made.

 

One helpful method might be to take a blank piece of paper and in one column list all your child’s good qualities Do they enjoy playing sports, reading, or have an outgoing personality?  These are strengths that can be built upon and used to help with weaknesses., Now in a separate column list areas with which you have concerns .  Does your child struggle with friendships, reading at grade level or continue to  struggle with organization?  These are areas that you would like addressed within the goals of the IEP.

 

Deciding On Your Concerns


On this same piece of paper list  the areas with which you still see your child struggle.  These are your “Parent Concerns”.  This is the one place that you can list all of your concerns about the progress your child has made, or has not made.  It is often helpful to have this written prior to attending your child’s meeting.  When the team asks for your concerns read it out loud for the whole team to hear and then give that paper to the team leader and ask the team  to have it included verbatim. 

When you have your concerns listed in the Parent Concerns, each of your concerns should be addressed within the IEP.  If you have a concern about your child’s ability to have age appropriate peer friendships, you might want to ask about a social skills group?  This could be developed as a specific goal.  If you see your child struggle to put thoughts in the correct order in a written assignment, you might want to ask for an accommodation like a graphic organizer.

Having Support People Attend With You


You can have a close family friend or professional(s) attend with you.  If your child is working with a tutor, therapist or in home family support person, they can help provide insight into what your child struggles with.  You may want to have an advocate attend with you.  This person can help guide you in understanding your and your child’s rights.

If you have this information prepared prior to a Team meeting, you will come to the table well equipped to advocate for your child.  You will be a full participant in the team process.  Always remember, you are your child’s best advocate.

OTHER USEFUL LINKS


Find a School or a  Related Educational Program or Service

Order a Printed Directory!

Tips on Finding a Chapter 766 School

Parent Checklist

Common Abbreviations

Useful Websites





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Editor: Denise Sullivan

Denise Sullivan started Sullivan Consulting in 2000. She was trained by the Federation for Children with Special Needs and continued her education to include becoming a Guardian ad Litem and a CASA Guardian ad Litem. Denise has also completed courses to become a certified Mediation Specialist for a broad range of disputes. Denise was born with a physical disability, but has never let that stop her from reaching her goals. One of those goals is to help others with disabilities. Denise has advocated for children with physical, medical and cognitive disabilities as well as behavior issues throughout her career. She has a unique understanding of the challenges that children on the Autism Spectrum encounter in the educational setting.

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LEGAL REQUIREMENTS


Special education is provided by the school district at no cost to the child’s family through the Federal statutory or regulatory requirements.

http://www.doe.mass.edu/sped/laws.html

RESOURCES


Parent Advisory Council

PAC’s often offer parents access to guest speakers on certain disabilities; knowledge about community resources for evaluation or support; help mediate between the school and parents/professionals.

http://www.doe.mass.edu/sped/parents.html

Federation for Children with Special Needs

Organized in 1975 as a coalition of parent groups representing children with a variety of disabilities, the Federation offers workshops and training, advocacy and resources to parents of children with special needs and the professionals who serve them.

www.fcsn.org

Wrights Law

Provides legal and advocacy resources to help parents prepare for team meeting, evaluations, and placement decisions

www.wrightslaw.com/

Childs Pediatrician

Often provides the first level referral for evaluation of suspected levels of disability or for special education services.

Therapist/Counselor

Often provides insight into social development or emotional instability that hinders educational success

Statutes Mandating Special Education: Legal Requirements

603 CMR 28

Part I, Title XII, Chapter 71B, Section 3

ONLINE PARENT TRAINING


Understanding Parent Participation in Massachusetts Special Education

CLICK HERE FOR
ONLINE PARENT TRAINING

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