IEP hacks you need to know before your next IEP meeting.

IEP hacks to ensure your kid gets the best accommodations

If your child has an IEP, you need these IEP hacks for your next meeting.

What is an IEP? Essentially, IEP is an acronym that stands for Individualized Education Program, or Individualized Education Plan. IEPs are designed to support kids who learn and think differently. An IEP can do wonders for a child with autism or ADHD. Understandably, IEPs vary considerably between students and families, as they are individually constructed for that particular child. IEPs can be a wonderful tool, but it’s important to know how to best advocate for your kid when structuring or rewriting their IEP.

Eight IEP hacks:

  1. Set the tone for the meeting. IEP can be contentious, but they don’t have to be! You get to be in charge of the tone. Start by thanking everyone for their role in your child’s education and give specific examples of how certain teachers have benefited your child’s progress. This is a great time to praise the professionals who work on your team and foster some goodwill. 
  2. You are a full participant in the IEP meeting. This means you can add documents, add goals, add outside assessments and evaluations. Remember that you are an equal member in the process. 
  3. You can invite anyone to participate in your IEP. Many parents invite other therapeutic providers or choose to have an IEP advocate. If you can, take along a 3rd party professional. Schools are much more likely to follow all the rules and provide the most rigorous services if you have an advocate who is listening and participating. Advocates can also just be an extra set of eyes and ears and will give you confidence as a parent. The best etiquette for inviting an advocate is to provide that name to your IEP team well in advance so they are aware and they can add the name to the IEP roster. 
  4. You can consent to some parts, but not all parts. An IEP is not an all-or-nothing document. If you are happy with the accommodations for speech and OT, but you don’t like what’s being suggested for the behavior plan or academic goals, sign the parts that you agree to, but don’t sign the whole document. The things you sign become a part of the plan and must be provided by law until the other parts are worked out. If you are told that you must sign the whole document to get services, that is not, not, NOT true. Here’s how to give partial consent.
  5. Your child can participate in the meeting. This is a great way to teach advocacy and to allow your child to have a voice, when appropriate. They do not have to stay for the whole meeting or participate in any way, but it can be a good opportunity for your child to take part in their educational experience. 
  6. Don’t feel rushed. You don’t have to sign the IEP on the same day as the meeting. You can absolutely take it home and look over it again. You also don’t need to rush through any part of the process. Get your questions answered and ask for more time. 
  7. Find out when your next meeting will be scheduled and request another meeting if necessary before you leave the building. Depending on your state laws, there may be a wait to get a meeting scheduled, so be proactive about that process. Remember that you always have the right to request an IEP meeting. 
  8. You MIGHT be able to record your meeting. There is nothing in the federal law that prevents you from recording your IEP, but state and district laws may have preventions for recording. Most importantly, you should never record without disclosing that you are recording. You should also consider that recording may create an unwelcome feeling between you and your team, so only record if it is necessary and after explaining the need for the recording. 

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IEP hacks you need to know before your next IEP meeting.

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