My Special Needs Network

A network to share best practices for children with special needs

I've lived in three states as a parent of a child with a disability, and I've taught for over 10 years in one state. One thing I've learned is that, with any IEP, collaboration is the key. Each stakeholder has an integral part in making the IEP a working, breathing, progress-monitoring document for the student. Although it's an integral part of I.D.E.A., it's much more than a compliance requirement.

Through a collaborative process of the student, educators, therapists and parents/families, the IEP can come together to form a multi-disciplinary team to help guide the success of the student. Working together from the start can make a smoother IEP process, and each person has such a different perspective and so much to share. The IEP is the backbone of everything you do for the child. It helps to guide and shape the direction of that student. The art in the IEP is really how well it's written.

The main point is to make sure the IEP is a true and vibrant “picture" of the student and not a depiction of a pre-existing classroom or program. The Present Level of Performance (PLEP) statement is critical. Goals drive services so make sure they are carefully constructed. If it isn’t written down, it's not part of the IEP, so be sure it's reflective of all accommodations.

The notes are a good place to add additional comments and, remember, the IEP is a working document that can be changed or amended at any time. As a stakeholder, it's always good to brush up on a review of the laws and how your particular state applies those laws to their IEPs and the education of exceptional students. Parent Training Centers (one per state) are an excellent resource. Lastly, just remember, collaboration, collaboration, collaboration!

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Comment by Hannah Ehrli on February 28, 2012 at 10:54am

If that makes you more comfortable you can have the therapist there. Any reports from the neurologist are always good to share but it is not neccessary for them to attend. Remember everything has to pertain to how your child's disability affects their ability to access their education

Comment by Susannah Barley on February 28, 2012 at 2:16am

Thanks so much for the support; it feels great to have your input. We will do as you suggest. We are parents, and I'm curious to know if you think it's really important to have the neuropsychologist who tested our son originally be there, or if having our family therapist who specializes in this disorder would be enough. It's a financial question really, and I feel more comfortable and supported by the therapist...

Comment by Hannah Ehrli on February 27, 2012 at 10:58pm

Try and come to agreements on as much as you can-always leaving a window for re-evaluating any services or goals at a future date.Everything needs data to determine effectiveness. If you have some real concerns you can always address those in the notes. Breathe. Take your notes. Know what you can compromise on and what is really important for your child at that time. If you are a caregiver remember that you have a wealth of information and are an integral part of the team. Good Luck.

Comment by Susannah Barley on February 27, 2012 at 10:23pm

This is very helpful, seeing as we have our IEP meeting in 10 days! Thanks for letting me know it can be amended at any time- it takes the pressure off the whole thing.

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