Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

All Together Now ...?

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

All Together Now ...?

Article excerpt

Have you ever attended an Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting and experienced the following:

* When you walk in, everyone is talking and no one looks at you?

* The professionals tell you their names and their titles in alphabet soup?

* They hand you assessment reports in rapid fire?

* No one seems to realize how scared or nervous you may be?

* No one asks about your family or how your child might be at home?

* Everyone speaks in jargon?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the legislation serving students with special needs and their parents, clearly points to a "team" concept in IEP preparation. The intent of the law, we believe, is to allow parents and professionals the opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations about the needs of the child. All are to have input into the development of a plan to guide the child's education. In other words, they are to function as a team. There are a variety of factors that should be present within a team. They include: social support, proximity, distinctiveness, fairness, similiarity, and communication. The following checklist is an informal way for you to evaluate your IEP team atmosphere. Answer the following questions with a "yes" or "no." Score 1 point for each "yes" and 0 points for a "no."

CHECKLIST

Social Support: An atmosphere where people can share and be offered understanding, compassion and encouragement.

1. Does your school have a parent support group for parents of special needs children?

2. Do your meetings start with a list of your child's strengths?

3. Has the district informed you that you may bring anyone you like to your IEP meeting for support?

4. Has your district given you information about the local family resource center?

Social Support Total--

Proximity: The more time that people spend with each other, the more likely they are to develop a relationship.

5. Has the school invited you to observe or volunteer in your child's class?

6. Have you received positive comments from your child's teacher either in person, by phone or E-mail?

7. Do the team members at the IEP meeting stay focused on your child?

8. Has the school invited you to watch the therapy or other services that your child receives?

Promixity Total--

Distinctiveness: A sense of unity or purpose.

9. Have you shared information about your child's home life in writing or with photographs?

10. Have you presented past reports from other sources (e,g., doctors)?

11. Have the teachers shared their goals for your child before the meeting?

12. Do the school personnel seem to really "know" your child?

Distinctiveness Total--

Fairness: The ability to work together for the child in a spirit of camaraderie.

13. During the IEP meeting, do you feel free to stop and ask for clarification or for a definition of a word or phrase?

14. Do you feel as if your concerns are being considered?

15. Has your school provided you with information about the IEP process?

16. Have you received the results of your child's assessment tests before the meeting?

Fairness Total--

Similarity: Sharing things in common with each other.

17. Do you feel like you and others on the IEP team are all working toward a common goal?

18. Do you feel as though you are listened to when discussing your child?

19. Do you think your information is seen as valuable to the other team members? …

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