Once a child qualifies for special education services, many parents wonder what’s next. At this point, the two most important things to think about are your child’s IEP and the IEP team. Creating an effective IEP and team is essential to the special education process. Many parents have no idea where to start, how to go about getting an IEP or what an IEP even is.
This is why as soon as you sign consent for your child to be evaluated, you need to start researching the special education process and the ins and outs of creating an effective IEP.
Here are 3 more tips to know…
Tip #1: Do Your Research
I always say that you should know the terms, laws and regulations that pertain to your child. This does not mean that you need to be an expert. There is so much to learn about special education and it can come become quite confusing and overwhelming at first. Take the process slowly and look up key terms, read over your parental rights, understand FAPE and IDEA, the components of an IEP and know the 13 categories of special education. The goal here is to have a basic foundation. Remember, you can always ask questions if you need to.
Tip #2: Prepare For Your First IEP Meeting
Once you sign consent for evaluation, the school district has 60 days (this is in most states) to complete the evaluation, write the report and meet with you to discuss the results and the possible development of an IEP. Use this time to prepare for the meeting. You should read over the IEP Meeting Checklist and create an IEP Binder. You will be receiving a lot of documents, so you want to make sure you are organized. In addition, bring with you a list of any questions and concerns that you may have. Use this time to really think about the challenges that your child is having and how this is effecting their home and/or school environment.
Tip #3: Know Who Is On the IEP Team
After the evaluation is complete, you will meet with the IEP team to discuss the evaluation and possible development an IEP for your child (if they qualify for special education services). At this point, the IEP team will consist of the school psychologist or evaluator (whoever conducted the evaluation), speech and language pathologist (if an evaluation was conducted), other related service professionals such as an occupational therapist or physical therapist (if an evaluation was conducted), special education teacher or case manager, general education teacher (if your child is school age) and an other special education professional. When you sit down at the table with these individuals, make sure you get their names and their roles in the IEP team. It is always good to form a good rapport with these individuals from the beginning because this will generally be your IEP team in the future.
As stated before, this information can be overwhelming and this is why I created a simplified Parent’s IEP Guide to help you with the process. The guide goes through all the information that you need to know before your IEP meeting.