Stress Free IEP Meetings Are Possible; Here’s How!

There have been so many times that having a child with special needs has felt completely overwhelming, but sitting in a meeting to make their education matter should not be one of those times. I recently asked what area seems to be the most overwhelming, and today I will dive in on these issues one by one so your next meeting everyone leaves in smiles, not tears

“Everyone else has more information than I do”

Have you sat in a meeting and thought, “Why is everyone saying this NOW? Shouldn’t I have heard about this through some type of communication prior to our annual IEP meeting?” My solutions? Ask for a draft of the IEP prior to your meeting, go through and highlight the areas that are most important to you to discuss. Ask for clarification in your meeting. My second solution is to make sure that you have a solid communication plan for the year. Each family is different, you might need weekly or sometimes even daily communication from your child’s teacher or aide, make sure that you include a plan to communicate with any related service provider( speech, OT, PT, etc. )  your child interacts with as well. This is imperative for a successful IEP meeting, the more you know, the more you can be proactive!

“I can’t keep all of these terms straight!”

IEP, FBA, BIP… Oh my! So many terms and so many acronyms, the educators and professionals at the table speak this language all day, so they often forget these might be terms you are hearing for the first time. I”ll cover a few of the most popular, but each student has very individual needs so if you hear a phrase you do not know, stop the person and say can you clarify this term?

IEP- Individualized Education Program

FBA- Functional Behavior Assesment(Analysis), a process to identify specific behaviors, the purpose of the behavior, and how it is interfering with the student’s educational progress.

BIP- Behavior Intervention Plan – A plan usually developed after an FBA, to replace negative behaviors with positive ones. It can also spell out specific guidelines for the team to follow while your child is making progress, remember that it might have to be adjusted and should change as your child progresses!

APE- Adapted Physical Education,  physical education which has been adapted or modified, so that it is as appropriate for the person with a disability as it is for a person without a disability.

ADL’s- Activities of Daily Living – refers to the basic self-care tasks an individual does on a day-to-day basis.

AYP- Adequate Yearly Progress , a measurement defined by the United States federal No Child Left Behind Act that allows the U.S. Department of Education to determine how every public school and school district in the country is performing academically according to results on standardized tests.

ED- Emotional Disturbance, A category that can define behavioral health concerns in the educational setting.

FERPA | Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974) is federal legislation in the United States that protects the privacy of students’ personally identifiable information (PII). The act applies to all educational institutions that receive federal funds.

HQT | Highly Qualified Teacher, in Ohio we define this as meeting the 3 requirements: 1. Teachers must have at least a bachelor’s degree; 2. Teachers must have a certificate/license that is appropriate to the grade and subject they are teaching; AND 3. Teachers must be able to demonstrate their subject area expertise in the core academic subject(s) they teach. If any part is missing, the teacher is not considered a HQT.

“Everyone is writing down information about my child, but not sharing”

Often when I’m in a meeting, I start thinking of ways to improve the intervention plan on the spot. I hear an idea and my mind starts racing with how we can incorporate that into our daily plan. Sometimes its a bit of personal information, favorite activities, interests, and sometimes it’s information that you share that works at home and we begin the process of tweaking that for the school setting. You can always ask for the information to be shared, I find that most educators are happy to share their point of view and suggestions that they have to make your child’s year better.

” The key to success is to focus on goals, not obstacles” 

Everyone feels success when your child makes progress, most educators enter this field to help a child reach their full potential. If you keep getting resistance, contact me so we can navigate the process together and improve your child’s experience. Everyone should feel like their voice is important and being heard. Education is for EVERYONE!