Finding Educational Support for Special needs Children

Preparing for an IEP Meeting

Don’t be intimidated by the “experts” gathered around a conference table during an IEP meeting. Generally the rest of the team have a sincere interest in helping your child achieve his or her best. As the parent, you are also an expert.

The purpose of accommodations or modifications is to level the playing field for your child. Prepare a list of supports you and your child believe will provide coping skills related to the identified disability. For example, if your child struggles with abstract mathematics, a request for oral administration of literature tests would be inappropriate.

Try to listen without growing defensive if teachers comment on your child’s study habits. Take notes as each team member speaks, and then ask for clarification before you discuss possible solutions to the concerns.

Suppose a teacher says your Johnny goofs around too much with his friends because he wants attention, and if he settled down, his grades would improve. Ask her to define “goofing around.” If she indicates he socializes too much, has changed his seat to move him away from his buddies. Has she spoken with him privately about his behavior? Has she indicated what is and is not acceptable in her class? Has she contacted you previously about the concern? If so, what has or has not proved effective?

Insist on the simplest solution first. If the teacher hasn’t yet separated your child from his buddies, or move him closer to the center of instruction, insist that be the first step to eliminate or lessen the problem. That he craves attention doesn’t need to be addressed at the moment since it may be the opinion of a frustrated educator.

Most schools have a children with special needs’ support group or center. Use it to network with other parents to learn what accommodations and modificiations have been successful. Often these groups offer resources such as books and videos to help you learn more about your child’s needs.

There is no limit to how often an addendum can be created for an IEP. If you see a suggested accommodation or modification is not effective, insist that another meeting be scheduled to review the progress or lack of it and fine-tune the IEP.

You and the team may have different expectations of your child, but the ultimate goal remains the same – provide your child with the least restrictive environment and the necessary tools and coping skills where he or she will be successful.