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Picture this: You are sitting at an IEP meeting and you just realized that the school district wants to take away a service for your child. How do you respond? With feelings of anxiety, confusion or anger? Or do you just stay calm?
These are questions that many special needs parents ask. If you have not been there, great, but unfortunately, many parents have.
So what should you do? How do you stay calm at an IEP meeting?
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you are in distress at an IEP meeting.
Know your rights. Sometimes when we are angry, we do not think clearly and forget about what we knew before the incident. As any great advocate, you should know your parental rights. If there is anything that is brought up in the meeting that does not align with your parental rights, take comfort in knowing that the law is on your side.
Know when to move on. You do not want to go back and forth with any members of the IEP team. It is important to have a good rapport with each member because it makes the special education process so much easier. If a team member does drag along an issue, you can say, “I appreciate that we can agree to disagree about this point, but let’s get back to the main issue (state whatever the main issue is).”
Have confidence in yourself. Whether this is your first IEP meeting or your tenth, have the confidence to speak up when you need to and trust that you know what is best for your child. Having confidence does not mean losing your cool or being overly arrogant.
Listen. Sometimes we tend to get angry and have a blow up without really listening to the main point. You want to make sure that you clearly understand the team member’s point of view because you may actually agree with them.
Stay positive. Whatever happens always try to have a positive outlook, knowing that in the end it will work out in your child’s favor.
Do not be moved. If an IEP team member seems to have a bad attitude when you walk into the meeting or you thought a staff member just rolled their eyes at you, ignore it! Believe me, it is not worth the fight. It will just make the IEP meeting more unbearable. Remember to focus on your child’s IEP and getting the best services that they need.
Keep it classy. This encompasses every tip. Whatever you do, do not let them see you lose your cool. Always stay calm and collected and know that you are doing the best service for your child.
Have you ever lost your cool at a meeting? What tips would you give parents?