My son Matthew, has completed his transition from Special Ed to Adult Services but since it’s Back to School Time, I thought I’d share what I learned over 19 years of IEPs. I hope it will help you have a more productive and positive relationship with your child’s IEP Team.
I dug through my paperwork and realized that I participated in at least 20 IEPs over the course of Matthew’s school career. There were times when I was frustrated with the rules and regulations. There were times when I didn’t feel like anyone was really listening. And there were times when I felt nurtured and cared for as much as Matthew did. When I look back on all the forms, reports, tests, agencies, departments, coordinators, teachers, aides, therapists, agendas, budgets, districts, laws, guidelines and personalities involved in Matthew’s education, it’s a wonder anything was accomplished at all. But through it all, no matter what the issue, at the end of the day we are all just human beings trying to do our best.
We all come to the table with our own personalities, agendas, and experiences. And the best way to get what your child needs is to be Fair, Firm, and Friendly.
Let’s start with Fair.
Resources are limited. Whether it’s money, people, or supplies, there is only so much to go around. Your child isn’t the only one your IEP Team is working with. And we all want everything for our kids and we want it now. Let’s get real.
Which leads to Firm.
Educate yourself on the rules and regulations.
Yes, there are other kids who need speech therapy and only so many Speech Therapists to go around. If you truly feel that your child needs more than the IEP team is offering, know how to stand your ground and get it. Assertively, not aggressively.
Which leads to Friendly.
I can’t tell you how many times I hear parents say things like, “Oh, time to go fight with the IEP Team again”, or “I’m battling with the IEP Team to get more resources for my child.” Everyone on the IEP Team is a human being and that old saying, “you get more with honey than vinegar” is true. Treat your Team with respect. Play nice. And you just might find them a lot more willing to listen to you and to work with you to get what your child really needs. Which leads us back to Fair…
The most important gift you can give your child is to let them be happy.
And they might not define happy the way you do.
Please feel free to post any questions you have in the comments section or contact me privately via the Contact page. If I don’t know the answers I will do my best to find them.
And if you have any helpful tips for working with IEP Teams, please add them in the comments section.