Friday, January 27th, 2012
Like “PT” and “OT” and “CP,” “IEP” were initials I’d never heard until I had a kid with special needs. But now that Max is nine, I am a downright veteran of the Individualized Education Plan. Wait, that makes me sound old; change that to “a master of the Individualized Education Plan.”
It seems like most parents are satisfied with their inclusion in IEP meetings, according to a study that just came out in the Journal of Disability Policy Studies. Researchers looked at the experiences of families of more than 10,000 students with disabilities around the country. Most parents said they’d attended their child’s most recent IEP meeting; of those parents, 70 percent felt their level of involvement in making decisions was “about right.” Disability Scoop notes that parents of kids who have challenges with behavior or social skills were more likely to be dissatisfied with the IEP process.
I am one of those satisfied parents, starting with the fact that I think the school my son is in is excellent. Not only are the teachers and therapists knowledgeable and competent, they care deeply about the kids. When I go to the IEP meetings, I feel like I am on a team—and I do not have to play defense. They listen to concerns I have and offer to follow up on them (and they do), and they address all of my questions. I also usually walk out of there with a list of websites, equipment and even toys that could help Max.
Over the years, I’ve had to push for additional therapy sessions for Max. Sometimes, I’ve gotten them and sometimes, I haven’t. Once, we made a concession; I wanted Max to have an extra speech therapy session, and we agreed we would do one with other kids—communal speech therapy! He’s loved that, and it’s been great for all the kids. I’ve learned that while I am there to make sure Max gets what he needs, I need to be open-minded to compromises, too.
I usually type up a list of points/concerns ahead of time, so I don’t forget stuff. The other thing that could make IEPs go better is a pitcher of margaritas. But I’d settle for white wine.
What have your experiences been with IEPs? Got any good tricks for navigating them?
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