The Best IEP Secret Weapon
Special Needs Parents are often compared to Super Heroes and I love it! We ARE Super Heroes! We accomplish amazing things for our beautiful children and change their world for the better… just like Super Heroes do. The best Heroes often have crazy awesome abilities or tools that assist them in their battles. Take Captain America and Wonder Woman for example. Captain America has his fancy shield and Wonder Woman uses her Lasso of Truth. Did you know that we as Special Needs Parents have a secret weapon too?!
I have been advocating for my son since he was 3 years old and I can tell you that the best secret weapon to help you through your IEP journey is an IEP binder! I know you are probably wondering how a simple binder is a secret weapon but ropes and shields do not seem ultra exciting either, unless you know how to utilize them properly.
First, how can you advocate if you do not know where the starting point is?
Each state has a Parent’s Rights and Safeguards Booklet that you will receive EVERY TIME you attend an IEP Meeting. It is better to keep the first one you receive and keep it in a place that you can reference it quickly.
If you are at a meeting about an IEP issue, it is best to have a copy of your child’s IEP! It makes it easy to reference while in discussion. It is also handy to have because you never know when a person that interacts with your child may need a copy of their most recent IEP. This includes doctors, therapists and anyone else that can utilize the IEP to help your child in a positive manner.
Chances are that if your kiddo is in need of an IEP, you either spend a lot of time at the school or in communication with the school and teachers. Having a safe place to collect your information is best! You don’t want to jumble through papers or emails every time you need to reference important information between people.
What about all that testing?! Every child that has an IEP will endure different testing based on the issues that need to be addressed within the IEP. Do you know where your evaluations are? I’ll be honest, I lost most of my son’s initial paperwork before I began utilizing my Special Needs Secret Weapon. I had placed the paperwork in a “safe spot” and forgot where that safe location was! It’s always nice to see how much progress has been made when evaluations are redone.
Another type of paperwork that is necessary to have is anything regarding behavior. It is data that is acquired everyday and it can be useful when you need to find solutions to problems dealing with the behavior of your child in different environments and schedules. Not every child will need this kind of documentation but it is important with children who utilize a BIP (Behavior Intervention Plan).
Last but not least, is Sample Work. It is the work that your child completes to use as a basis for upcoming IEP meetings and goals. As a parent your input is crucial and knowing where your child stands academically is not only the teacher’s responsibility. This can be work completed in different environments other than school too.
I promise you that if you start utilizing an IEP binder you will be blown away with the benefits it will provide you and your child. I know it seems like a lot but using dividers and being specific is the best way to go.
If you want to go the extra mile you could even include a small pencil pouch that you could fill with pens, highlighters, sticky notes and paper clips. You can never have too many secret weapons as a Super Hero Special Needs Parent.
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