If your child has been recently diagnosed with autism or another disability, one of the following steps you will take is creating an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). As a parent, you support your children’s teachers and hope they recognize and value your voice. Still, when it comes to the IEP process, it’s common to feel like an outsider among a team of educators making essential decisions for your child.
It is important to understand who makes up your child’s IEP team members and their roles. As you prepare for your child’s upcoming IEP meeting, consider these strategies to support effective communication with your school team.
Know the IEP Terms
You don’t need to be an expert, but it’s good to know the terms schools use around IEPs. First, you should know what an IEP is. An IEP is a legally binding document that ensures your child with disabilities receives a free and appropriate public education. Simply put, an IEP is a legal document that you and your child’s school develop to meet your child’s needs in the classroom.
Your child’s IEP may include accommodations or modifications:
- Accommodations are the teacher’s changes that help your child learn the same material as their classmates.
- Modifications are changes to the educational material itself.
In other words, accommodations change how a student is taught or expected to learn. In contrast, modifications change what a student is taught.
Bring a binder to your first IEP meeting with relevant testing, letters from therapists who regularly interact with your child, and a list of questions. Also, bring a pen and a notebook, as you will likely take notes throughout the meeting. You can also bring a photo of your child with a brief letter explaining their strengths, interests, and talents. This gives the team a well-rounded picture of your child and makes the meeting more personal.
Establish a Communication Strategy
There are many different options when it comes to communication methods. Some children can bring information and materials to and from school. In these situations, agenda books, journals, and folders can easily share news between home and school. An agenda book can be used to record information about homework, assignments, and tests. A journal can communicate information about the child’s behavior or medical needs. Folders can transport behavior charts, point sheets, and other important information.
In some situations, relying on the child to carry information between home and school is not the best option. They may struggle with organizational skills or are reluctant to share with their parents. Luckily, many options exist to avoid these situations. Many schools have websites or portals that provide information about upcoming assignments, projects, and tests. Email or texting can help communicate about a specific incident or issue.
The Connections Therapy Center
The Connections Therapy Center serves families of children and adolescents with disabilities and special needs. We are a team of experts in behavioral sciences. As a team, we offer intensive hands-on therapy for children and adolescents, as well as informative and useful resources for families. If you are interested in learning more about what we can do to help your family, visit us online or give us a call at (301) 577-4333. Want to get more information on how to help your child thrive? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.