Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Understanding the IEP Process

One of the most common concerns I hear from parents is that they feel uninformed about what their child’s school is doing to address their disability. They don’t understand that they have the right to be involved in the IEP process, and how to go about getting involved.

Ironically, these parents are often very involved in their child’s schooling in other ways: They’ll bring in cupcakes for a parts or go on a class field trip, but they don’t know what instruction their child is getting.

Part of the problem is that many parents are culturally habituated to treating the school as an unquestionable authority. They don’t understand that they have a right to express their own perspectives of the child’s needs.

Gavin Pollard provides this warning on his blog, Life with Aspergers:

“A warning: Parents, do not approach the IEP meeting as if it were simply a normal school meeting. It's a critical and legal part of your child's education. You need to get it right.”

The IEP process, far from a top-down directive from the school to the family, is a series of negotiations between the two parties For instance, if the family brings in a report from a specialist, the IEP team should take that into account. The school, meanwhile, should bring in broad interdisciplinary perspectives from the many staff members who have contact with the child. In this way, the IEP process is designed to get as broad and deep an understanding as possible of the child’s needs.

It all comes back to understanding the basics of the IEP process. A good place to start is the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY). They’ve got all kinds of resources on how to prepare for the IEP meeting, how to advocate for your child, and how to follow up to ensure the plan is being put into effect. LD Online also has some great resources.

There are tons of parents out there with similar concerns, and the blogosphere is a great way for them to share information. Here are just a few of the many blogs by parents going through it:

You might also want to check out the School Psychologist Blog Files.

I'd love to hear from anyone else who knows of good online resources for the IEP, and from any other parents who are going through the process.

1 comment:

Dale Brown said...

Thank you so much for your kind words about LD OnLine. We just updated our section in IDEA
and added new articles to the section on IEPs.

We work hard to assure that our material is helpful to the users.

Dale Brown