My Vision

Once a child is ‘labeled’ as having a disability, many parents think that is the end of the road and/or all the dreams that they have for their child are gone. But it does not have to be that way. Beyond Special Education encourages parents that there is life beyond the special education label. Whether you are a new special needs parent or a seasoned one or a homeschooling parent or your kids attend public/private school, this site is for you to learn about advocating for your child and things you can do to encourage early development. Remember, knowledge is power, but most importantly it is a piece of mind.

Nicole Bovell

Learn more about Nicole

From the Blog

Creating an Effective IEP and Team
113 0

Creating an Effective IEP and Team

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.

Parent's IEP Guide

If you have any questions and/or are in need of Advocacy Services or an IEP Consultation, please do not hesitate to contact me.

preventing meltdowns
114 0

Preventing Meltdowns

Preventing meltdowns?

Is that possible?

Yes it is!

If your child has ever experienced a meltdown, then you know how challenging it can be to calm them down. That is why it is best to avoid meltdowns as much as possible and implement strategies that you can utilize in your home and on the go. If you are in dire need of some tips, here a few strategies…

1. Provide a sensory break.

When transitioning from activity to activity, take a movement break on a swing or trampoline or provide a sensory box. 

2. Give a warning when an activity is about to end. 

Provide a visual timer or verbal warning to let your child know ahead of time to prevent any miscommunication.

3. Provide a transitional object.

Let the child carry an object or toy as they transition from activity to activity.

4. Always be prepared.

Know your child’s triggers and make sure you are prepared if one of those triggers are pulled.

5. Give your child a signal when an activity is over.

Whether you are using a song or a hand clap, have a way for your child to know it is time to clean up or change an activity.

6. Limit wait time.

Try to keep any wait time to a minimum. The longer children wait, the more frustrated and anxious they become.

7. Always use social stories for new activities and adventures. 

Social stories are a great way to prepare your child for any new activities. To read more on social stories, click here.

8. Stay calm.

Remember the more anxious and frustrated you become, the more anxious and frustrated your child will be become. Read more about what to do when your child is having a meltdown here.

**If you are really having trouble managing behaviors, check out a behavior blog post here and/or read the free Managing Challenging Behaviors E-Book.**

Are you looking for things you can use at home?

Check out some Special Needs Essentials here


special needs parent IEP
273 0

Special Needs Parent? These are the Questions You Should Be Asking

For a special needs parent, entering the special education process can be quite complex. However, some parents jump right into the middle of it without asking essential questions first. If your child is newly diagnosed or has just received a special education eligibility, then you first want to make sure you get and understand foundational information before you move forward.

So what should you be asking?

What does my child’s disability mean?

In order to receive special education services, your child has to qualify under one of the 13 categories of special education listed under IDEA. But once your child has a special education eligibility, what does that mean? For example, if your child qualified for services under a Specific Learning Disability (SLD), what exactly is your child struggling with? What weaknesses were shown in their evaluations? What does the research say about children with SLDs? Make sure you understand this information and if you have questions, do not hesitate to ask. When you are going over your child’s evaluation at their eligibility meeting, the school psychologist or evaluator should be able to answer all of your questions.

How will they record my child’s progress?

Your child is now receiving special education services. But how do you know if they are making progress? This is a major question for parents. Since collecting data can vary from school district to school district and within the same school from teacher to teacher, you need to know how YOUR child’s teacher will be collecting data. It would make it easier if data collection was universal across school districts, but that is not always the case. This is why you need to ask questions about how the data is collected, when the data is collected and how percentages are calculated. Do not leave the IEP meeting table, until you understand this process.

What information is in your State’s Procedural Safeguards?

Before your first meeting, you should have read your State’s Procedural Safeguards. In your State’s Procedural Safeguards, you can find out information about your child’s evaluation, the procedures if you wanted to get an Independent Educational Evaluation, and what you can do if you disagree with the school district. When you do have any questions, always refer back to your State’s Procedural Safeguards first. If you have additional questions, then ask the IEP team. Sometimes carrying around and reading your State’s Procedural Safeguards can be overwhelming (they are often at least 20 pages). Here is a nice pocket guide for quick reference.

special needs parent IEP

 What staff will be working with my child?

There are various special educational personnel and all students do not work with every individual. It all depends on your child’s eligibility and specific needs. If your child does not qualify for speech and language services, they will not see the speech and language therapist. The same thing goes for occupational therapy, physical therapy, special education nursing, adaptive physical education, mobility services, etc. Sometimes parents misunderstand a special education eligibility. They think once their child qualifies for any special education service, then all special education services are available to them and this is not the case. It all depends on your child’s individual needs. Always ask questions if you are not sure what services they will be receiving and who will be providing these services.

How will the school help my child? 

Know what strategies, special curriculum/programs and accommodations/modifications will be in place to help your child. Remember the goal for all children is to make sure they are progressing towards the general education curriculum. Essentially, you should know in detail what exactly is going on in the classroom. If your child’s teacher mentions that they are using XYZ program, know exactly what that program is and how it will help your child. You can always ask your child’s teacher or do your own research.

What type of support will be provided for my child?

This pertains to accommodations/modifications, 1:1 support, mobility equipment, sensory breaks…basically anything that is listed in your child’s IEP that will support them throughout the day. Sometimes things are listed in the IEP and they are not followed. Always know exactly what supports your child is receiving and follow up to make sure they are receiving them.

Making sure you have the essential information in the beginning will make the special education process so much smoother. To help understand the IEP process, do not forget to get your copy of A Parent’s IEP Guide. This guide breaks everything down so you can understand your child’s IEP process in simple terms.

special needs parent IEP

Share what struggles you have had in the beginning!