If your child has been tested and qualifies for assistance in school to even the learning playing field, you will be invited to an IEP meeting. An Individualized Education Program is the document that is created by the special education teacher that will be working with your child. It covers all the areas that your child will need services for and all forms of differentiation for their instruction.
The IEP meeting will have the special education teacher, their regular education teacher and often a school counselor or administrator. There is a lot of paperwork floating around during this meeting and at times can be overwhelming. In early elementary years most children do not need to attend the IEP meeting as they would really not gain much information during the meeting. In later elementary years I had my children attend the meetings so they could discuss their concerns or specific problems and how they felt they could best be handled. This is one of the very big building blocks in self-advocacy and a true understanding about their LD.
Personally, one very positive outcome during my son’s IEP meeting when he was older was finding out just how intelligent he was. He always felt he was “dumb” and didn’t want to believe me when I would tell him how smart he really was. At his IEP meeting they showed him his IQ scores and what the average scores were. He finally had a form of PROOF that he was indeed SMART in spite of his dyslexia.
If your child is attending the meeting, discuss with them any issues they are having, problems that may be new or even things that perhaps they feel they may not need anymore. Make a written list, sometimes there is so much information given that you may forget what you wanted to say. Listen to what the teachers are saying they believe your child’s education needs are. I always found it was better to include accommodations that you may not be sure of rather than have to add them later.
Your child’s IEP becomes a legal document and a teacher must provide what it says. It is the document that makes all the difference when it comes to advocating for your child. Be sure you understand it and read it. If you have questions later or see other needs as the year progresses, contact your child’s teacher to discuss your concerns. Know your rights and your child’s rights and use them to further your child’s access to his educational needs. Always keep in mind that your child is just one student in the class. To you they are the center of the universe, but the teacher must work with many children and is not your child’s personal one to one instructor. Intelligent questions and not demands are the foundation of a great working relationship.
Denise Hasson is the mom of two successful adult children with dyslexia. She is also a library media specialist in an elementary school. In her 32 years of teaching she has worked with children who have many learning disabilities, so she sees learning differences from both the educational side and the parental side. Denise loves to read, talk, and make crafts.