Finding peace with the IEP Process

R. has only been in school for three years and I’ve conveniently lost count of how many IEP meetings we have had. In some ways it is easier, I know what to expect and I’m able to manage the process as much as they let me. But it is always stressful to hash over all my daughter’s challenges and wonder if we are making the correct decisions.

An IEP is a document that is meant to be changed as needed. 

It feels like they are creating this master menu of all the potential for my daughter over the year and if I don’t get it right then she’s going to miss out on something crucial.  But an IEP can be changed at anytime.

R. has only had two teachers so far, but with each I talked to them about their willingness to make minor changes to the IEP without calling the entire team together for a meeting.

Everything on the IEP should be easy to understand and implement even by someone unfamiliar with my child.

It really helps to read through the IEP at times when I don’t have to. When there’s no major issues or an impending meeting I can be more objective.

The Present Levels of Performance section of the IEP is the first window to R. that a school professional will see.  I generally send my own list of strengths, abilities and weaknesses to the teacher prior to the IEP meeting. It is common that R. will show new skills at home before they see them at school and this information should be included in this section. I’ve never had them disagree.

There are many resources for writing IEP goals out there.

Cultivate relationships with the professionals on my child’s IEP team and inform them of my expectations regarding the process.

We have been lucky to have had nothing but good and great team members since R. started with public school.

I have the email addresses for the OT and ST at R.’s school and I communicate with them, asking questions and updating them regarding progress and challenges. I don’t do this too often, but I do feel like I’m getting the information I need from them. And when it comes time for the IEP meeting, I don’t feel like I’m meeting with strangers and they are not surprised by any of my comments or suggestions.

I also communicate with the teacher, again I don’t make a pest of myself but she knows my concerns and what has been working. I’ve always sent an agenda of my concerns, what goals I would like updated or added and any questions. With R.’s current teacher she has been awesome enough to see me for a Pre-IEP meeting. She gives me half an hour and I’ve been good about not going over––yes I have to watch the clock to make sure.

Educate myself and learn when to trust my judgement and instincts.

I’ve realized that I don’t need to have the common core standards committed to memory––and there’s an app for that. There’s actually a  mind-boggling amount of information out there like these goal banks:

IEP Goal Bank

DIR Goal Bank Handout

I speak to other parents and attend trainings when needed. Sometimes the hardest part is knowing when to stop gathering information for a while.  Thinking back to Dr. Greenspan’s analogy of development and building a skyscraper I have to be careful not to pick out the drapes before there are any windows to cover.




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