Wednesday, June 23, 2010

IEP Tips

Someone on my Facebook page asked me if I had any tips to share for people who were approaching their child's IEP. Of course I do. I’m nothing if not full of advice that you may or may not actually want. I’m fun like that.

So, the IEP, it’s like a gang fight, right? You versus them. I’m kidding. Mostly. Really, you want to work with these people so you can all get the best plan for you child. Here are three things I would do to have the best IEP possible:

1. This tip came right out of my comments from Stephanie. She tells us to come to the IEP with a copy of your district’s policies on Special Education or the Wright’s Law book on IEPs. Reading these materials is great, but if you don’t have time, try to make it look like you’ve read them—bend the spine, dog-ear some pages, put a few sticky notes inside. You get the picture. I got similar advice from Charlie’s speech therapist who told me to go with a folder. Actually, she said, “I don’t care if you’ve got your phone bill in there—just look like you’re ready for business.” She’s got her own special needs kid so I heeded her advice on this one.

2. Come to the meeting with your own goals. GASP! I know, right? Isn’t that what the teachers and evaluators are for? Well, yes, but this is one area where I think it pays to do your homework. These people only have a snapshot of your child and you’ve got the whole picture. What do you want them to work on? If you’re not exactly sure, bust out one of those dreadful milestone charts (you may have to drink a glass of wine beforehand), and see what your child has mastered. Your goals should focus on what comes next. For example, Charlie had mastered cause and effect, so as a goal we are worked on sorting. If you survive looking at a milestone chart, you may then want to reward yourself with copious amount of chocolate (or wine—your choice).

3. Bring something that showcases your child’s talents. I brought Charlie’s DVD player, so he was able to show off his skills with fine motor, cause and effect, and his ability to entertain himself. Caleigh’s mom brought their iPad and let Caleigh show off her mad communication skills. So bring a favorite toy, their favorite music—anything that puts your kid in their best light.

So that’s it. That, and some ninja stars should things get ugly. I kid. Many schools have metal detectors—best bring your nunchucks.

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