Here are 6 Tips of what NOT to do in the IEP process from Carol Shrand. Carol is from just outside Boston, Massascheusetts, and the mom to Jason Shrand who is now a university student. She has supported her son throughout his educational career to ensure that he got what he needed as child with Aspergers. In a recent interview she gave me 6 great tips on the IEP process:
1. Don’t be afraid to ask around – When filling in the IEP paperwork you need to take it seriously ands also acknowledge that you won’t know it all. Carol suggests attending local government workshops on completing IEP’s (if they run in your area). Also consult other professionals involved in your child’s care, for example a therapist, for their input on particular sections of the document.
2. Don’t miss the key part of the document – Out of the whole IEP document the “service delivery” section is the most important, and the part that the school will take most notice of (so you should too). This is the “who, what, where, when section” that outlines exactly what is going to be done – and who is responsible for it.
3. Don’t sign at the meeting – Carol suggests strongly that parents don’t sign the IEP at the end of the meeting, when they are asked to do so. Instead take it away – and get chance to think about it, and take other advice if needed. You are well within your rights to do this – so don’t be rushed!
4. Don’t be short of ideas – One thing that Carol did to prepare for IEP meetings was look in various places for ideas. She would visit other schools, talk to parents, attend work shops, and meet with professionals in order to get an idea of what may be helpful for her son. So if a school in the next town had after school social skills clubs, she would point this out and ask that Jason have such access in his school.
5. Don’t get caught up in the emotion – It is important to try to de-escalate the emotion in an IEP meeting. You want the best for your child, and the education department are often constrained by budgets and resources. Unless you are very unfortunate, this is nothing personal against you and your child, just a fact of life. So try to see the meeting from their viewpoint as well, to keep things more logical and less emotional. Try to keep it focussed on a positive dialogue about what everyone can be doing to help your child. And try to emphasise how services would help other children at the school, and not just your own child.
6. Don’t be in a hurry to give up your IEP – If the school or local education department suggests that your son no longer needs an IEP be cautious. The framework and legality of the IEP makes it a powerful weapon in ensuring your child’s educational needs are met, without you may find it more difficult.
You can hear much more from Carol Shrand in my upcoming expert interview series.
Thanks for reading,