5 Tips for a Positive IEP Experience

IEP meetings can be dreadfully painful. There is a room full of people who can sometimes think they know what is best for your child. In most cases, they are trying to do what is best, but no one knows your child like you! The people around the table bring with them experiences they have with children similar to your child. Not your child. Having been through a few IEP conferences, I am no expert, but I have had some positive experiences with the tips below. Hopefully, you can find a tip or two that will work for you at your next conference.

1. Start the conference with passing around a picture of your child and reading a statement about what you want for their future. This statement will show everyone that what they do now, will impact where you want your child to end up in the future. The picture will ground everyone, and remind them you are speaking about a person. Not a disability or a statistic.

2. Express your commitment to the team of people around the table. When parents approach the process as being an active, committed member of the IEP team, it is better received, and often a breath of fresh air to the professionals around the table.

3. Be goal oriented. A huge part of the IEP are your child’s goals. Give serious thought on what you want your child to accomplish this school year. The teachers are the education professionals, but they should also be listening to what expectations (high) you have for your child. You need to find a balance between what your  child is capable of, and pushing them to the next level. They will meet your expectation. Low or high!

4. Wear waterproof mascara. Seriously, it’s OK to cry! I did during a heated meeting, and I was so mad at myself. I am poised in these meetings, and here I was a blubbering mess. But you know what, it reminded the people around the table they were planning a tiny human’s future. It reminded them there are emotions and people who love this child attached to them. My tears brought balance back to the meeting, and just maybe, got us what were were asking for.

P.S. I would have gotten it anyway.

5. Remember who holds the power in these meetings: you. The law of special education is behind you. You can walk out of the meeting, take a breath if you need, and return more powerful than ever. Or you can walk out, and ask to reconvene at a later time. These meetings should not be rushed, and you should be 100 percent comfortable with what that paperwork will say about your child.

Follow this journey at Unexpected Perfection.

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