The 3 Ways to Play a Part in My Angel’s IEP Review
Being prepared and taking good notes can help you get the most out of IEP reviews
It’s that time of year again. Yes, fall is right around the corner. It’s also time for an individualized education program (IEP) review meeting for my 12-year-old Angel, Juliana.
IEP review meetings lay the groundwork for Juliana’s academic progress. I’ve read my share of horror stories about IEP reviews, but we’ve been very fortunate to have great teachers and therapists on Juliana’s administrative team, and they help us navigate the best education for her. Her team is composed of educational and therapeutic professionals who know all the jargon and techniques. But as a parent, I have a role, too.
My part in Juliana’s annual review is to come prepared, ask questions, and take notes. Carrying out these simple actions doesn’t mean the meeting will be perfect, but it certainly makes it better. Because we’re setting the guidelines for how Juliana’s year will be focused, I want to be ready for the discussion. The following are ways I plan to do this.
1. Coming prepared
I know the meeting is coming, but it always feels like it sneaks up on me. Yes, it’s on the calendar and was planned in advance. But I’m the parent of an Angel, and life with Angelman syndrome can be a little unpredictable. A lot can happen from the time the meeting was scheduled to when the meeting actually occurs.
Still, I always take time to read through the updates to the IEP. When I was new to the IEP process, I would read the entire document from beginning to end. If I’m pressed for time, I simply read through the current recommendations.
The IEP also includes completed goals. Seeing the progress is a reminder of what Juliana can do, so I make sure to look for and relish her accomplishments.
2. Asking questions
I’ve learned to be a good advocate for Juliana. While her teacher is the expert, I am Juliana’s parent. Her well-being is the common goal, and I want to make sure the goals are doable. I never hesitate to ask about how the teacher has arrived at an assessment. Asking these questions has led to some adjusted goals and outcomes.
3. Taking notes
A lot of details are discussed during the IEP review. Juliana’s teacher is responsible for updating any notes and changes if they occur, as well as sending out the final copy of the document. But this doesn’t stop me from taking my own notes. I don’t make note of all the little changes, but I do take good notes on the big ones.
I’ve found that this process helps me keep track of the efforts we must focus on at home. For example, during one IEP review, we addressed Juliana’s goals for toileting. When the occupational therapist mentioned that Juliana needed more improvement in pulling up her clothes, I noted it.
It turns out we hadn’t been following all the steps. From that note, I put a visual reminder on the mirror that showed the right steps to follow. We are continuously working on improving Juliana’s trip training. so this was an important discovery. I probably would have overlooked this little nugget had I not written it down.
IEP reviews will be a part of Juliana’s education until she graduates. Instead of dreading the two-hour-long meeting, I show up ready to be an advocate for my Angel. A little goes a long way in ensuring that the meeting and its outcomes are giving Juliana the best opportunities to learn.
Note: Angelman Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Angelman Syndrome News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Angelman syndrome.