During an IEP Meeting
Oftentimes, a student’s voice is never heard during an IEP meeting. It’s unfortunate, because letting students lead IEP meetings, or at least advocate for themselves, helps them feel more in control. If you’re the parent of a child with ADHD, high-functioning autism, sensory processing disorder, dyslexia, or another academic disorder, you can teach your child to advocate for themself and build confidence in IEP meetings by using the following strategies:
Enlist the Teacher’s Help
Many teacher education programs now have lessons devoted to helping students advocate for themselves in IEP meetings. However, this doesn’t always carry over into “real life.” Teachers may become too busy to help or subconsciously don’t recognize the child’s ability level.
The first step is to contact your child’s teacher and explain what you envision. You could suggest that your child (instead of the teacher) lead the IEP meeting, or encourage a teacher-student brainstorm session to come up with unique strategies to help your child advocate for themself. It helps to come prepared with several ideas and also stay open to hearing the teacher’s suggestions.
Set the Tone with Your Child
The sad reality is that many children don’t attend their own IEP meetings and have no say in their goals. Hopefully, your child has had some experience with the meetings. If not, explain what to expect or, if your child has attended before, remind them what the meetings are for. Say something like, “I know there are some things in school you’d like done differently, or that some teachers have the wrong idea of what you can do. Let’s figure out how you can best communicate what’s going on.”
Explore a Few Strategies
One strategy is for the student to develop a PowerPoint presentation. Many children enjoy putting these together, and they can incorporate pictures, videos, graphics, and text elements. The presentation could touch on topics such as:
What I do well
What I might struggle with
What I wish my teachers knew about me
What I want to do to help myself
What goals I have
What my teachers can do to help me
Another strategy, especially for very young children or those who don’t want to attend, is to have the child appear at only a portion of the meeting and answer questions such as, “How can we help you?” and “What makes you frustrated at school?” These students will ideally develop a routine attending IEP meetings, enabling them to start fully advocating for themselves in only a year or two.
Information provided by Brain Balance of Corona