Spring, to parents of kids with Special Needs means many things. Awareness days, and months. Opportunities to get your busy little one outside in the fresh air. Spring Break, travel, family, holidays. But it also means “IEP season” is coming.
If you have a child with special needs, most likely your student has an IEP. Many children transition from Early Intervention programs at age 3, and move from an IFSP (Individualized Family Service Plan) to an IEP (Individualized Education Plan). This plan contains details on goals written specifically for the student, and measures to track progress. It can be a difficult document to decipher, and it’s always helpful to have a second set of eyes to help parents look it over. Input from therapists, teachers and anyone who interacts with the student should be included somehow. These professionals help to make up the student’s “IEP team”, and all should be assisting the parents in navigating the process.
Ideally, the student’s IEP should be reviewed on a regular basis, but no less that once a year. Progress reports can be helpful in keeping the goals of the IEP at the forefront, as well as keeping the lines of communication open between teachers, therapists, and parents.
When Caleb was entering the school system, we were, along with many parents, concerned about the process, and unsure of the role of the IEP. What should be his goals? What were his strengths, and what did he need help with? What type of learning situation would work best for him? Everything was brand new for us. We relied on input from his team to guide us.
We had friends with older students who suggested we write a Vision and Mission Statement for Caleb, to help steer us in the right direction. This document is now almost seven years old, and we still refer to it! We were able to put down on paper the things that, as parents, were important to us. It’s been tweaked along the years, but the overall general goals are still intact – to love the Lord, to be a productive member of society, and to have a rich, full life with friends and loved ones. The same really, as we wanted for our “typical” daughter. The only difference is really the road to get there.
To be continued…