Your IEP Action Plan

 As we come to the end of the school year our thoughts begin to focus on what the next year will bring. Many parents meet with the school based team to discuss the how successful the goals and accomodations in their child's IEP have been and what changes need to be implemented for the following school year.

I came across this article written by Joan Celebi. I think it is a really good reminder of the importance of taking care of ourselves during these stress-filled interactions with the professionals in our children's lives.

Do you have any special strategies that help you to prepare for an IEP meeting? Leave a comment or send me a message at contact@autismaspergersandmoreohmy.com . I love to hear from my readers!

Blessings for your journey,

Lori-ann

 
Your IEP Action Plan
 
by Joan Celebi
 
Who doesn't get nervous before an IEP meeting?  Even under the best of circumstances, when the teachers are wonderful and things are going smoothly, IEP meetings can cause anxiety and worry.  And if there's disagreement between you and the school about what services your child should receive, the weeks, days, and minutes before the meeting can be a time of absolute dread.
 

As you prepare for an IEP meeting, your focus is on getting the right services for your son or daughter - so they can receive the best education possible.  But there's a crucial piece that's often overlooked: you!  Taking care of yourself and putting some smart strategies into place before, during, and after an IEP meeting is essential.  Here's my step-by-step IEP Action Plan for doing just that, so you'll be better able to focus on the meeting, and on the education you want for your child.

 
Your IEP Action Plan
 
1. Long before your IEP meeting, take some time to step back and think: do you need help with this?  The IEP process can be complicated.  You don't have to do it all by yourself.  Consider hiring a special education advocate.  Advocates can take on many roles, from simply meeting with you and helping you organize your thoughts, to accompanying you to the IEP meeting. 
 
2. In the months and weeks before your meeting, make sure your records and documents are all in order.  Want to do this the easy way?  Buy the new "My IEP Toolkit" at organized4kids.com.  I just bought one and I can't wait until it arrives!  It's a large, high-quality 3-ring binder with sections for every type of document you need to keep - completely organized and all in one place.  It's got how-to's and tips galore, and it makes your IEP record-keeping effortless. 
 
3. Keep a running list of all your questions and anything you want to discuss at the meeting.  Put it in your binder.
 
4. About a month in advance, check in with all the teachers and professionals who work with your child.  Find out what concerns they may have.  You may be surprised to find out something you weren't aware of.  This serves two purposes:  first, you can address these concerns in your Parent Statement; and second, you don't want any surprises at the IEP meeting!
 
5. Three or four weeks before your meeting, start writing your Parent Statement.  You will want plenty of time to re-read it and revise it before the big day.  Make copies of your Parent Statement for everyone who will be attending — and put the copies in your binder.
 
6. A few days in advance, figure out what you want to wear.  Make sure you've got groceries in the house, and enough laundry done.  Do anything ahead that will make the morning of your IEP meeting go smoothly. 
 
7. Decide in advance what you want waiting for you when you get home that day.  Have your favorite CD ready to play, a favorite food prepared, a set of comfy clothes to change into ... you get the idea!
 
8. Also in advance, block off a little bit of down time right after the meeting for you.  When you give yourself some time to recover, the rest of your day will go much more smoothly.
 
9. You may also want to plan ahead to do something fun, relaxing, or rejuvenating within a day or two of the meeting.  You'll have something to look forward to - and an antidote to that drained, overwhelmed feeling that sometimes comes along during IEP time. 
 
10.  And while you're looking at your calendar, set aside some time during the days following the meeting in case you need to follow up on ideas and suggestions from the IEP team.  The time it takes to make phone calls, send emails, and do research can really add up!
 
11. Eat a good dinner and go to bed early the night before, and eat a good breakfast the morning of the meeting.
 
12. In the hours before the meeting, take several "time outs" to close your eyes and breathe deeply.
 
13. Bring water to the meeting, and sip every few minutes.
 
14. During the meeting, ask all the questions you want, and don't be afraid to ask people to repeat or rephrase.  It can be hard to take it all in at once.  Be sure the meeting progresses at a pace you're comfortable with.  Jot down notes during the discussion for anything you want to clarify or follow up on. 
 
15. Immediately after the meeting, look over your notes, fill in any incomplete information, and add anything you know you're going to want to remember.  Put the notes in your binder, then put it away for at least a few hours.  Go for a walk, even if it's just for a few minutes.
 
16. Ideally, make dinner ahead, so you can give yourself a break that evening — less kitchen work and more time to sit and eat with your children — and enjoy them just the way they are.


~ ~ * ~ ~

Joan Celebi is a life coach and proud mother of two children, one of whom has special needs. Through teleseminars, individual coaching, and her free monthly newsletter, she brings the best strategies of life coaching to parents of children with special needs nationwide —helping them create lives of balance, harmony, and joy.  Learn more at www.SpecialNeedsParentCoach.com

Did you like this article?  Feel free to forward it around and/or print it out to share with friends, your parent group, etc.  You can even reprint it in your organization's newsletter, use it as a handout, put it in a resource notebook... use it however you like!  All I ask is that you keep the entire article intact, including my name and contact information. 

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Comments

  • 5/25/2008 12:05 PM Jessica wrote:
    Here's is a tip I heard about in a meeting of Disabilities Services coordinators for a number of Universities and Community Colleges in Pittsburgh:

    If you have a child who is a Junior or Senior in high school and you are tracking them for a specific community college or university, invite the Special Education Coordinator (or whatever they are called at that school) to one of your IEP meetings. This allows them to get an idea of how your family works, what the child's educational environment has been and and current development are. This allows your family and their office to work much more efficiently and smoothly to make your child's post-secondary school experience as successful as possibly. This is a great post!
    Reply to this
    1. 5/25/2008 1:58 PM Lori-ann wrote:
      Great input. Thanks for sharing the idea! As parents, I find we muddle around a lot trying to figure out ways to "teach" others about our kids.
      Reply to this
  • 10/30/2009 5:16 AM Web developer wrote:
    Nice post,

    keep up the good work,

    Thanks
    Reply to this
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