Sometimes we hear statements made in meetings to develop IEPs for children with disabilities that just don’t make sense to us. Rather than blowing your top, here are some possible responses to the types of things that you might hear in IEP team meetings:
Statement: "We’ve never had a child like yours in our school."
Possible responses: “My child has had past success in our community preschool and in interacting with children in our neighborhood. It is very important to her and to us that she attends school with her friends and her brothers and sisters. We know that with proper supports and services, she can benefit.”
“We agree that she will require specialized support with her physical needs during the school day. We are sure that the IEP team can come up with a plan to provide the help she will need. We will support the IEP team in asking for the information and additional expertise needed to implement the plan.”
Statement: "We focus on learning functional skills in this program."
“In addition to learning functional skills, though, I want my child to receive excellent instruction and be included with her friends and classmates in all school activities. She needs an IEP that will provide her with both functional and academic goals. I would like to work together to identify the goals for her and then talk about how we can help her with her functional skills here and at home.”
“If we cannot provide her with good quality instruction and access to the general curriculum, then we need to identify other options available for her. We need services that will support her’s functional skill needs while she is learning reading, math and the other skills that all students will need in the future.”
Statement: "We don’t have a full time school nurse."
“Until we develop my child’s IEP, we are not going to know how much nursing support she is going to need at school. We don’t expect all school staff to provide services, but we do expect that a health support plan will be developed and that she will receive what she needs so she can attend school.”
Statement: "Our district doesn’t put technology into the IEP."
“I am sorry, but my son needs to have a Go Talk to communicate with others. My concern is that if we do not specifically write this into the IEP is that he will not get it. If you would like information on where you can find this for him, I have it at home and can call you with the information.”
“If we don’t write this into the IEP, then my concern is that my son will not get this Alpha Smart. He needs this for middle school. We did a trial run with it at his former school last year and improved wonderfully in his writing skills.”
Statement: "We don’t have an inclusion program here."
“It’s the IEP team’s responsibility to develop a complete education program for my son. When we identify the supports, adaptations and accommodations that will assist both my son and his teachers, we know he will be able to learn and grow with the other students.”
Statement: "You need to be realistic."
“We agree that we all need to be realistic. We believe that it is not realistic to give up high expectations for her and accept less opportunities for her to learn and grow with the other children in her school and community simply because she has a severe disability.”
“Our vision for our daughter is that she have every possible opportunity to learn all she can and be as independent as she can be. She has dreams for her future and we intend to help her reach for those dreams. We believe it is realistic to expect her IEP team to help her learn as much as she can and develop as many skills as she can.”
Statement: "Your child’s behaviors are disrupting the classroom."
“Yes, his behavior can be disruptive at home, too. But we know that behavior is often a means of communication for children who aren’t able to communicate well. We know that when he is able to communicate his wants and needs and when he is not frustrated, his behavior is much better and is not disruptive. I need the IEP Team to help everyone understand why he has hard days sometimes and what we can do to help him improve his communication and his social skills, which will in turn improve the behaviors”
“He has a lot of strengths, too. He loves music, he is funny and enjoys humor, and he really tries hard to do what his teachers and we expect him to do. He wants very much to be with other boys his age and socialize. Why can’t we use the strengths to help him get better at handling the things that frustrate or upset him?”
Statement: "We just don’t have the money for technology."
“I appreciate the fact that providing our son with a modified computer and software could be expensive. However, learning to use these devices and gaining access to curriculum using adapted software is critical to his learning and to his future. We will work with you to identify possible sources of assistance, but our responsibility is to make sure that his IEP accurately reflects what he needs. We can’t end the conversation because of money.”
“There are many sources of possible funding for both hardware and accessible software. But this meeting is not about money. This meeting is about determining what our son needs in order to benefit from school and about preparing him for the future.”
Statement: "We can’t mainstream your child unless we have a one-to-one instructional assistant or aide."
“Before we make a decision about a full time assistant, we need to look at what the school day is going to be like, what the demands will be and decide what the paraprofessional will be doing to support my child and my child’s teacher.”
“I am very concerned that he have excellent instruction and lots of opportunities to be a real part of his class. I wonder how we could make sure that support from a paraprofessional doesn’t interfere with these things?”
Statement: "First we’ll work on skills and then we’ll see if your child is ready for mainstreaming."
“He may not have all the skills the other children have, but he can be – and wants to be -- a part of his general classroom with support. We can make learning those skills part of his IEP and his special education services. Besides, I am sure that there will be other children in his class who need to learn similar skills as well.”
“I want to make sure that my son receives the individual instruction and reinforcement that he needs. I also want the IEP team to work with me to make sure that he is not held back or that he misses other opportunities to learn.”
Statement: "We need your permission to use the time-out room for out-of-control behaviors."
“I cannot give you permission to force my child into a time-out room. If there are new behaviors that are of concern to the IEP Team, then we need to act quickly to bring a behavior professional into the class to help us determine what may be happening to cause these behaviors. I need to know who in this school is trained to assist teachers and children when there is a genuine crisis. I also need to know from the IEP Team what strategies, interventions and supports are going to be developed and used so that my child has an effective Positive Behavior Support plan in place.”
Statement: "We’ll use teacher observation to measure that IEP goal."
“Although subjective data is one piece of the pie, it’s not going to be possible for me to know if my daughter is making progress unless we have some objective measures written into her IEP. What other measures can we use to track her progress toward reaching these goals?”
“We need to think about some more formal ways of measuring her progress. Sometimes it takes quite a while for my daughter to learn new material. I need to know what assignments and assessments we are going to use to ensure that she is mastering the really important skills on this IEP.”
Statement: "Your child can’t participate in academic classes if he can’t pass the state assessments."
“It’s absolutely essential that my son be provided with good instruction in a variety of academic classes in order to meet his IEP goals. We want him to have the same opportunities to learn as all other students at this school, whether he is able to pass the end-of-year assessment or not.”
“We know that we and the IEP team can determine whether my son will take the regular state assessments or an alternate assessment. Maybe he will not reach all the course requirement for this class, but alternate achievement standards for him should not get in the way of him learning.”
Statement: "Your child’s health needs make it impossible for us to serve him here."
“We have evaluations and recommendations from her physicians that clearly state that she is able to and will benefit from attending school. We and they will work with the IEP or 504 team to put together the proper services and supports for her.”
“She has an IEP. We need to reconvene the IEP team and include a school nurse so that we can review the concerns of the school staff and add the training, services and supports needed to address those concerns. She is just like her friends and classmates in most ways and she deserves an opportunity to continue to attend school.”
Statement: "The general education teacher could not be here today."
“My daughter is one of Miss Taylor’s students and we think she is doing very well. However, I have no idea if the goals and supports we are suggesting are going to be helpful to Miss Taylor in adapting the curriculum and classroom activities so my daughter can be successful. We need to schedule another IEP Meeting so that Miss Taylor can attend for at least part of the time.”
“This is the first year my child has been spending a lot of time in a general classroom. I do not want to have IEP Meetings without my child’s teacher. We can complete the main parts of the IEP and give a draft to Mr. Jones. But then we have to schedule an IEP Meeting that includes him so that our team is complete.”
Statement: "We can’t continue to give your child special education services if you don’t sign this IEP."
“I am not ready to accept the entire IEP as written. I will sign that I participated in this meeting, but we will need to meet again to see if we can come up with a program that meets my child’s needs.”
“Actually, it is not necessary for me to sign the IEP document as a whole in order for the services that I do agree upon to be given to my child. If the school district has a policy about parents signing their child’s IEP or losing services, I would like to see a copy of that policy.”
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