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There are several ways your child may have been identified as a child with an educational disability requiring specialized instruction. You may have noticed concerns and requested a meeting with the school-based IEP team.
The school may have been implementing interventions with little to no progress. You may have sought outside testing or support in the identification and qualification process. No matter how your child was identified for special education services, it’s a long and daunting task.

But once your child has an IEP, the work does not stop - it’s truly just beginning. IEPs do not solve problems. IEPs are not magic wands. The IEP is almost like a recipe. It shows all the ingredients and steps, but they have to be implemented and perhaps revisited more frequently. Parents of children with educational disabilities do not have an easy job. If you want to be more involved in the IEP process or want to change up what you are currently doing, below are my recommendations!

Expand each step below to learn more about being a parent/guardian of a child with an IEP.

Read your parental rights handbook!

This is not light reading! IEP teams often joke that it’s great bedside reading (as in it will help you fall asleep) as they hand the large packet to families. The handbook helps provide guidance on special education. This is so you can advocate for your child. These are heavy in jargon! As you read it with intention, write down your questions about specific rights, words, or processes. Ask your child’s case manager, administrator, or coach for clarification!

Each state will have its version of a parental rights handbook. IDEA requires the following:

  • The right to participate

  • The right to invite others

  • The right to share the IEP with others

  • The right to review documents at any time

  • The right to prior written notice

  • The right to an independent evaluation

  • The right to dispute

  • The right to final say

Keep all your documents organized.

Know your child’s accommodations and goals.

Work on self-advocacy.

Communicate with your team.

Track IEP Progress.

Have patience.

Request Interim Reviews

Look for additional resources.

Practice self-care.

You may feel overwhelmed. You may be curious. You may be frustrated. No matter what, you are not alone. Whether your child just was recently identified or has had an IEP for several years, it's never too late to continue learning about special education. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out. You can schedule a free 15-minute consultation or send a message through the contact page!

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