It’s that time of year when we realize our child may need more support in school. Whether this is your first IEP or you are a seasoned pro, you cannot help but have anxiety when approaching the meeting. Even when the team is kind and truly tries to help, there is an inner anxiousness around making sure the proper decisions are made and effective support is put in place.
Howard Margolis is a seasoned advocate in New Jersey and Philadelphia areas. He has offered some excellent suggestions on how to prepare for the IEP in order to minimize the anxiety you feel. He covers three main areas you can focus on to prepare to make your case at the IEP meeting.
3 Tasks to Reduce IEP Anxiety
- Understand the ramifications of the Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District decision by the Supreme Court in March 2017. In a nutshell, the decision requires the school to support your child in a way that shows meaningful progress from year to year. If your child is not progression, the team needs to look at the supports that are in the IEP.
- Organize your supporting documents and write out recommendations. If you write out where your child is struggling, or comments staff and teachers have made, you are better prepared to give your input on best ways to help your child in school.
- Respond with facts and respect when you find the meeting getting confrontational. if you have good documents, know your child’s challenges, and are familiar with the laws, you are best prepared to rebut with logical, unemotional responses. Most teams do want to help the child, but are often bound by administrative restrictions. But if you can offer suggestions based on research, you can help steer the school into yes decisions.
The best thing about this article is the examples provided. He shows you how to put together the information and even provides several conversations to demonstrate how best to interact with the IEP team.
More reading on anxiety and IEPs:
- Read Howard Margolis’ article: Anxiety Skyrockets as IEP Season Arrives.
- Guest post I wrote: 12 Strategies for Staying Calm During an IEP Meeting