The IEP & I

Big Kid 16

Photo by Amy Storch
It's IEP season, chickadees! The most wonderful time of the year for special-needs parents.

Have you had your meeting yet? How did it go? *nods sympathetically* Yeah. Totally. I don't know why they have to schedule them in the morning either -- it makes it so hard to justify drinking that entire bottle of wine ahead of time.

If you no idea what I'm talking about, lemme steal something from Wikipedia real quick:

"In the United States an Individualized Education Program, commonly referred to as an IEP, is mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). In Canada and the United Kingdom, an equivalent document is called an Individual Education Plan.

In the US, IDEA requires public schools to develop an IEP for every student with a disability who is found to meet the federal and state requirements for special education. The IEP must be designed to provide the child with a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). The IEP refers both to the educational program to be provided to a child with a disability and to the written document that describes that educational program."

(You know the government is involved when you see THAT MANY acronyms.)

Depending on your child's needs and your school district's ability and/or willingness to provide and/or recognize those needs, IEP meetings can be awesomely collaborative encounters, a tedious game of tug-of-war or even downright hostile. I know parents who have hired educational advocates and lawyers to attend the meetings with them, and parents who have essentially gone home and put their house on the market so they could move to a better school district.

We've been incredibly lucky; our IEP meetings have always fallen more in that "awesomely collaborative" category (which just the occasional smidge of tug-of-war). A lot of that is simply thanks to where we live and the amount of money that flows to special-ed programs and the emphasis our state puts on early education. Some of it is probably thanks to our time in Early Intervention, which routinely sent us information about the IEP process -- and much of that information was absolutely terrifying, making it sound like we should show up always prepared to fight, with mouth guards and boxing gloves. But it made damn sure that we were prepared, either way.

And a lot of it is thanks to the people we've encountered on the other side of the table: passionate, caring, determined to help every child to the best of their ability. They've always been honest with us about the school district's limitations as well. (Noah does not qualify as speech delayed or disabled in the eyes of our district, which is laughable, so we keep bringing it up again and again.) (While sending him to the private speech therapy that even our [evil, ridiculous] health insurance agrees that he totally needs, WTF.)

But I still find the whole thing so stressful. What if they want to reduce services, or try to tell us he's fine now? What if they aren't seeing enough progress and are concerned about something we've assumed is okay? Will he qualify for extended school year? Some of it is probably a bit post-traumatic stress from memories of some really rough evaluations that produced really rough results. I'm quite able to walk into a conference room expecting good news, just yet.

So what about you? Have you had your meeting yet? How did it go? And how did you cope?

back to school, developmental delays, education, elementary school, kindergarten, special needs


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angel010 angel010

I had one for my daughter, she's ADHD hyperactive, and they kept saying the same stuff over and over like I didn't understand them! She's doing fine with her meds, Concerta 15mg, and she will be tested in a regular classroom like she has been all year. And she has only been on her meds this year for 2 weeks! Go figure!

nonmember avatar Mouse

Due to when we moved into the district, we have our meeting earlier in the second semester, though we usually end up with at least one additional meeting and some IEP additions in the fall. We are really lucky to be in a school and district that is more collaborative than anything else. It's important to us since our son functions well most of the time, so some of his services would probably be first on the chopping block if there were cuts. But he definitely needs them in place since when things go poorly, it's pretty spectacular, and their general philosophy includes having support in place before crisis hits if at all possible.

Skavs... Skavswife

I have had good and bad IEPs! Our daughter who is now 13, suffers from the effects of Fetal Alcohol Symdrome. We adopted her at the age of 3 and she was in a regular classroom up until 2nd grade. They then placed her in an RSP program which she maxed out in 4th grade. From there they placed her in a Special Day Class which was the best experience of her life. She had the most loving, caring, understanding teacher for the next 2 years. Her IEPs improved dramatically! This teacher retired and the next one was ok. She is now in Jr. High and is not doing so well. She is not reaching her IEP goals and I am having to really step in and get things going in the school system at this age. It is really tough! As she gets older, it seems they just want to push her through the system. It frustrates me! I wish we had that old teacher back who drove our daughter to success! Miss her so much! So to answer your question.....IEPs frustrate me. I never know how they are going to go!!

Steph... Stephensmom1214

We had my son's first IEP in December (that's when he turned 3). I think we may reconvene before the end of the school year, only because I need a little guidance on what specific activities we can do this summer to help him make progress towards his goals. He doesn't qualify for ESY, which of course is a double edge sword - he's too advanced for that, but gosh, he needs... SOMETHING!!!

We are fortunate to have a wonderful treatment team in place for my son. I like them all, my son loves them (ALL of them!), and most importantly, they love HIM!

Only having had one IEP so far, I can't really say if I like them or not. I wish we didn't need them, but since we do, I'm glad we have people who genuinely care about my kid, and want him to succeed just as badly as I do.

bizbay bizbay

My son has been in the system for about 7 years...I've had some really horrific experiences where I started bringing friends or relatives with me because I felt as if I was being ganged up on. One time I brought my son's counselor to the meeting and all they did was defend themselves, because, how dare the parent seek out other guidance outside of a school that was unwilling to collaborate or budge outside of the curriculum...My son was bullied, pigeon holed and mis-labeled repeatedly.

Ultimately, I ended switching schools and suing the school district in order to get my son services. Happy ending is...he is a Junior in High School, on track for graduation, and honor roll student! Yay for my boy, he is a wonderful, happy young man!

akhlass akhlass

Ameena's IEP is on April 23rd. I am recording the meeting, too! I have so many reports to review & letters to prepare because I requested all of the recommendations prior to the meeting. I will feel better once I have my list of questions/comments finished. This will be her 3rd IEP, but first at her new school. She's going to Kindergarten in the fall. This is school has been wonderful - Lokranz Special Education School in Reseda CA. I am very very happy with the staff & her teacher is terrific!

Cafe... Cafe Jenn

I actually talked to my son's speech pathologist yesterday and I think we're going to do a phone conference for my son's IEP. Of course you know with IEP meetings comes the kids seeing their teachers less. My son's SP has 60 kids she has to do IEPs for, which sucks because he has missed three of his time slots because she has meetings. Needless to say after our chat yesterday, she is making up those times.

ourliss ourliss

We're still in the IFSP stage because my daughter is only 2... and this go round was rough... We were asked to have her evaluated by a developmental psychologist in order to justify continuation of this level of services.... it was the first time a lot of things were mentioned and it had us pretty rattled.... We had the evaluation, as requested. As for how it affects my daughter? Well, it affects us more than her. Her services continue on per usual... and more. She actually qualifies for more, which when all is said and done is a good thing. Right?

nonmember avatar Linda

Our school district considers gifted students to be special needs students. Our state mandates that gifted students be served but there's no money to do it. They've hobbled together a gifted program with some odd standards and we're not really sure about it. Part of what they are teaching our son is how to complete a project in stages and in a timely way. It's information he needs. It's a little frustrating from a compassionate viewpoint that these services are not being offered to mainstream students. We think that the goals are out of reach for his maturity level but at the same time, they see a much more focused kid than we do. We are so new to this process and aren't sure of our footing.

nonmember avatar Dayna

Just had our meetings this morning - 2nd grade twins graduated from speech therapy they've had since they were three. HUZZAH. They even swindled the therapists for an extra trip to the prize box, shameless thangs that they are.

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