It’s the day of your IEP meeting. You’ve reviewed the draft IEP that was sent home (if you didn’t get one, we’ll discuss that in another blog). You can tell that your child is not making progress, but you have no idea how to help them.
You go to the school and sign in. You wait for the secretary to usher you into the room. The door opens wide, and there, around the conference table, sits everyone who interacts with your child throughout the day, staring at you as you enter. It’s very intimidating and can feel like an Us versus Them situation.
The team reviews the IEP with you, and they ask if you have any questions. You have questions, but you don’t know how to ask because you don’t understand their jargon. You ask why your child is not making progress, and the teacher says, “well, some children take longer.” Your child has had the same goals for two years, and when you ask about this, the teacher again says that some children take longer to make progress on their goals. They seem to have an answer for all your questions, but the answers are not satisfactory. You are sitting there alone at a table filled with school officials who you believe want to help your child, but things are not improving.
If you have ever felt this way at an IEP table, you are not alone. It can be very scary sitting at a table with school officials who are the “experts” in education and curriculum, but they are not the experts in your child. You are your child’s expert and best advocate. If you have a gut feeling that something is wrong, it is your job to speak up for them. If your child has had the same goal(s) for two years and is not making any progress, then request that the goal(s) be changed or put aside for now. Maybe it’s not the goal that’s the problem- maybe it’s the implementation. Either way, stick to your gut feeling. You may not understand the system, but you do understand your child.