How can I get help in obtaining services that are supposedly out there and available? My son’s ISSP (IEP) looks fantastic on paper, but in reality, most of the services are not obtainable due to extremely long wait lists or shortage of workers to completely fill the positions.
Developing a relationship with your son’s school and creating an acceptable IEP, or Individual Education Plan, is very important. “How Well Does Your IEP Measure Up?” by Diane Twachtman-Cullen and Jennifer Twachtman-Reilly is a book that can help you grow to be a valuable member of your son’s IEP team, giving you insight into the IEP process. You’ll learn about often-neglected areas that should be addressed during the IEP meeting.
Your son’s school has obviously been cooperative, working with you and acknowledging his disabilities. However, without follow-through, all you have is a stack of papers. By law, your son is entitled to FAPE or a free, appropriate public education due to his diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. His IEP is a legal document. Your son’s school is legally responsible to uphold the contents of his IEP. There are procedures in place to protect all parties involved in the education plan. However, someone has to initiate these procedures.
At the time of your son’s IEP meeting, his IEP team leader should have reviewed your state’s laws and your rights as a parent of a child with special needs. You should have been given a copy of your state’s FAPE procedures and parent’s rights handbook. Now is the time to review this handbook and determine your first step.
You must initiate a legal procedure called due process. Once you file due process, you will have the opportunity to show proof that the school system is not fulfilling your son’s services as set in his IEP. Your parent handbook will outline the steps you must take to begin due process in your state. You, as the parent, are responsible for holding the school system accountable.
Preserving your relationship with your son’s school is very important. Even if you file for due process, your son will remain in their care until the process is resolved. You will want to be comfortable with this arrangement. Remember to maintain neutral communication. While this is a personal matter in your life, this is not a personal attack. Moreover, it doesn’t have to become one.
Contact your state’s special education advocacy support group. This group is in place to support the families of special needs kids by offering information and advocacy training services at no charge. This group can guide you through the legal process of receiving FAPE for your son.