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5 Tips for Eliminating Stress: IEP and School Meetings

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When you’re a parent with a child on the autism spectrum or with any other kind of delay or disability, it’s easy to feel like a fish out of water at IEP meetings or during discussions about your child’s evaluation or test results. Attending meetings with educational professionals who have advanced degrees and years of experience can be intimidating and overwhelming at first, especially if you don’t do that sort of thing often or if you don’t have any formal education. You can stop feeling overwhelmed and boost your confidence by understanding that the unique knowledge you have about your child makes you an expert and by taking time to prepare.

Here are five things you can do to become more confident and prepare for IEP and other school meetings:

1. Do your research.

Learn everything you can about the evaluation or exam your child will take so you can understand what it measures and how your child will be scored. Prepare for IEP meetings by learning about the IEP process, educational goals, and your role as a member of the IEP team.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

If you don’t quite understand something that was said or you don’t know what test or evaluation results mean for your child, don’t be afraid to ask for someone to explain them to you.

3. Take notes.

Write down what your child’s teacher and therapists say about your child’s strengths and weaknesses and any other important points discussed so you can ask questions after the meeting or know what to work with your child on at home. Don’t allow anyone to discourage you from taking notes during a meeting about your child. It’s your right to do so.

4. Don’t assume your child’s teacher has all the answers.

No two children are the same, and even with years of training your child’s teacher may not know the cause of your child’s unique challenges or how to deal with them. The great thing is that your child’s teacher has access to educational tools and methods that can help your child. Be prepared to work closely with your child’s teacher to figure out what strategies may or may not work.

5. Put your child first.

Making sure your child gets the education they deserve and are legally entitled to receive means you’ll need to boost your confidence and put your feelings of anxiety aside to tend to your child’s needs. If it’s too difficult to overcome your feelings, you can seek the help of an advocate who will guide and support you or even speak on your child’s behalf during school meetings.

Getty image by monkeybusinessimages.

Originally published: October 22, 2018
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