Flourishing Families Special Needs Resource Guide 2020

Page 16

IEP Self-Advocacy The idea of IEP self-advocacy is to empower parents and place an emphasis on their role in the special education process. Attending an IEP (Individualized Education Program) meeting can seem daunting, especially if there is disagreement with an aspect of the program or services. Parents are a child’s best and most knowledgeable advocate, but self-advocacy requires preparation, focus and willingness to find solutions. Here are valuable tips to prepare for an IEP meeting and how to advocate for your child and family.

What Is an IEP Meeting? An IEP meeting is an ongoing evaluation that has three components: receiving information, providing information and making decisions. The nature of an IEP meeting depends on why it was called. As a self-advocate, you must have a working knowledge of how your child’s disability affects performance in an educational environment, assessments, program and services (past and present).

How to Prepare Review your child’s educational records and clearly identify your current concerns and objective(s). A record review is important because the entire IEP team relies on the records. Be prepared to direct the team to useful information, explain how records are lacking, or why they’ve misinterpreted something. Categorize your list of concerns. For instance,

16 • SNRFSD.org • SanDiegofamily.com • flourishing families 2020

Seth Schwartz, Esq.

categorize concerns by an assessment or behavioral support plan. This will ensure all categories are discussed and your specific concerns are addressed.

What to Bring Perhaps the three most important things to bring: 1. A digital recorder – You have the right to record IEP meetings, provided you give 24-hour notice in writing. 2. Organized records – Records are important. You may refer to them if there is a disagreement or the IEP team is unfamiliar with something that could impact decisions. 3. Another person – You have the right to bring another person. It’s not uncommon for a meeting to include four individuals from the school and one parent. Having a knowledgeable support person “on your side” will help make the team feel more balanced.

Set the Right Tone Self-advocating begins with setting the right tone. Keep things cordial and maintain your position in a calm manner. You’re there to receive and provide information that will lead to addressing concerns about your child’s educational program and services. You are part of the IEP team and the school needs your consent before taking steps and making changes. Encourage a meaningful exchange of information to ensure concerns are addressed.

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.