Top Three Tips for Parents Navigating the IEP Process
The IEP process can be daunting, leaving many parents unsure about where to start and how to navigate. That’s why we want to give the top three tips for parents navigating the IEP process. If you’re a parent of a child with an IEP, take a deep breath…you CAN do this!
Start With The End In Mind
The goal of an IEP is ultimately to “further education, employment, and independent living.” When approaching an IEP, keeping the long-term goals in mind is important to help us get through the daily process. Reminding ourselves that this is a marathon, not a sprint, gives us the proper mindset when tackling big goals. In addition, starting with the end sets the stage for creating relevant and manageable goals for right now. Even for young kiddos, keeping end goals at the forefront of development makes sure things stay on track from start to finish.
If you’ve ever heard the saying, “A verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on,” you understand the importance of documentation. Documenting all conversations (e.g. through email) takes conversations from hazy and hypothetical to memorable and factual. It keeps everyone accountable and leaves little room for speculation, plus eliminates the need to remember all the details. Recap conversations with emails, take notes in meetings, and annotate notable progress or changes in your child. This can be especially useful when addressing recurring issues.
Don’t Go It Alone
Attend your IEP meetings with a companion. You are allowed to bring anyone who has knowledge or expertise of your child, but it is ultimately up to you who you bring. Having another person present can alleviate you of the pressure to think of the right things to say in the moment, and remember everything afterwards. Whether it’s a spouse, parent, therapist, or caseworker, two heads truly are better than one.
If you are seeking guidance in your child’s IEP process, do not hesitate to reach out to IEPready. We are here to ensure your child receives the education they deserve, and that you feel supported and in-the-know throughout the process. If you would like more local and nationwide resources to approach a variety of your child’s special needs, visit Sanford Autism.
Image from Common Ground’s “Strengthening the Voice of Families at IEP Meetings”.