Working with Schools to Develop an IEP

Question

We are already making preparations for the upcoming school year. Can you give me information on working with the school IEP for my Aspergers son?

Answer

When you have a child with Aspergers (high-functioning autism), IEP negotiations are extremely important. As the parent, you hold a vital position on the IEP team and unfortunately, many moms and dads often feel undermined and in some cases, bullied into accepting the opinions and terms decided by the educational staff. Your input is not only important, but also necessary in the development of a well-rounded IEP for your youngster.

In the days and weeks before your IEP meeting, there are several things you can do to make the experience more pleasant and the outcome more positive. This IEP is imperative to your son’s future.

Here is a list of suggestions for IEP preparation:
  1. Know your son’s strengths and weaknesses so there are no big surprises during the IEP meeting. If you know your son’s abilities and weaknesses, you will be better prepared to request additional services when needed and not offered.
  2. Make notes, ask questions, and request clarification before and during the IEP meeting. When goals are set, be sure you understand the wording and that your thoughts are taken into consideration.
  3. Represent yourself as an equal member of the IEP team. Dress respectably, speak intelligently, and do not feel inferior. Yes, the other members are education professionals, but you are an expert in your son.
  4. Request access to all updated evaluation reports before the IEP meeting in order to prepare for the meeting. You should not have to settle on glancing over the reports or hearing the results second-hand during the meeting.
  5. Request time to review the IEP before signing. There is no reason to rush through this process. Take the IEP home, read over it, and make changes if necessary. Do not sign until you are sure your son has the best IEP possible.
  6. Schedule private evaluations, if you desire. Medical evaluations, including medically referred psychological testing, will present a complete diagnostic picture. Educational evaluations are primarily geared towards diagnostics that affect only the specifics of the education process. These two diagnoses can be different. Without a medical evaluation and official medical diagnosis, your son may miss vital services.

When you have a youngster with Aspergers, the IEP should be treated as the important document and process that it is. The IEP is the backbone to his educational assistance. If you have any questions about appropriate goals or specific questions about the IEP process, there are many great resources available online.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook

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