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How to get the most from an IEP meeting

An Individualized Education Program lists the educational goals for a child with special needs, including how these goals can be met. Annual IEP reviews can be a source of anxiety for parents, but they do not have to be with preparation.

The first step in preparing for an IEP meeting is to write down specific questions. These answers can allow parents to understand whether a draft IEP will provide appropriate special education and related services.

Three other tips can smooth the annual process and result in a more collaborative team approach. They include:

  • Add a support team – bring with another person(s) who knows your child and can ask questions. Anyone who has “meaningful interaction with your child” can attend an IEP meeting.
  • Consider the IEP – parents are generally not required to sign an IEP at the annual meeting. Taking the IEP home and thinking about it may avoid future conflicts.
  • Obtain a translated copy – if English is not your first language, ask for a translation. This ensures you will understand the details of the IEP.

When your child has special needs, you often work with a team of professionals. Do not hesitate to ask these experts to review the IEP and offer suggestions based on their training and experience working with your child.

If your child is not getting needed special education services or there is pressure to drop services, it may be difficult to find solutions. You have to fight for the best interests of their children. Sometimes this may also include speaking with a special education attorney to find the right solution.

Source: The Fresno Bee, “Protecting Patrick: Parents talk about challenges getting services,” Carmen George, June 19, 2015

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