Communication in the IEP Meeting

There will most likely be many people around the table at your child's IEP meeting, particularly if this is the initial meeting for diagnosis. It can be overwhelming when you walk into a room and see so many professionals all ready to talk about your child. Remember, everyone wants your child to have the best learning experience possible and to succeed! Here are some tips that parents have found helpful when they have attended IEP meetings.

What to bring

  • Bring a definition of dyslexia and/or reading disorder with you and read this at the beginning of the meeting. This may help to clarify the often misunderstood term for the team.
  • Some parents bring a picture of their child and prepare a short positive description to read at the beginning of the meeting. This sets the focus of the meeting on your child.
  • If you are asking the school to increase the amount of therapy time, provide specific data about your child’s success and progress with intensive therapy. Collect and showcase a portfolio of your child’s work to illustrate the effective strategies as well as areas of weakness.
  • Be concrete and descriptive about the type of explicit and systematic intervention that you want your child to receive in school (i.e. “Individualized, step-by-step instruction will be provided at the student’s instructional level. Regular feedback will be provided regarding mastery.”)
  • Bring visual aids, such as graphs, tables, and pre/post testing scores to illustrate you child’s progress outside of school. You may also use visual aids for test scores in academic subjects to demonstrate your child need for services within the school.

What to do during the meeting

  • Provide your input regarding the goals. You may submit your own goals and priorities during the meeting.
  • Request a draft of the IEP before the meeting and review it with outside therapists to identify elements you would want to add or change.
  • Consider the following areas to enhance or modify that are often missed on the initial IEP:
    • Social goals
    • Independence and attention goals
    • Organization goals

Suggestions for after the meeting

  • Ask for a draft of the IEP before you leave the meeting. This will allow you to have more time to review it. It may be helpful to review the contents with your advocate or private therapists and read it several times before signing it. You may ask the school to modify and/or clarify portions of the IEP before you wish to sign it.
  • When reviewing the IEP, ensure that it described your child’s present performance, unique needs, and the specific and practical ways the school will meet those needs. It should include:
    • Baseline data from diagnostic testing and observation of your child.
    • Goals which are observable, measurable, and achievable within a stated time frame.
    • A schedule for ongoing evaluation. You should receive regular updates from the school about how your child is doing towards meeting his/her goals.
    • Clear accommodations to support your child in the learning process. These may include preferential seating, extra time to complete tests and papers, etc.
    • Transition planning: If your child is nearing a transition from elementary to middle school, middle school to high school, and from high school to higher education or vocational work, the IEP must state ways in which the school will help to prepare him/her for these transitions.
  • Follow up with each person who delivers the special education services (i.e. the teacher consultant, speech pathologist, counselor, classroom teacher, etc.). It is a good idea to inquire about each person’s experience, certification, and/or training in this area of remediation.
  • Determine who will be responsible for the implementation of the IEP as a whole. If any problems arise, you will know the appropriate person to contact. Document this person’s title in the “Reporting Progress” portion of the IEP.
  • Follow up is often required after the actual meeting to ensure smooth implementation of all the goals, strategies, and communication. Be pro-active if something is not working.
  • Preparing, attending, and following up on an IEP meeting can be a demanding task. Consider getting support for yourself. Many parents find that it is helpful to join a support group such as your local Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) for Special Education or to talk to another parent who has been through the process.