When your child starts school the most important tool will be an IEP or Individualized Education Plan. This can be requested under the requirements of IDEA, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The plan is implemented within 30 days of the child being identified as needing an IEP. The reason this document is your most important tool is that it is a legal binding document as to how your child’s school program will be tailored to his individual needs. This includes, but is not limited too, how much time he spends in school, whether he requires an aid or not, any special equipment needed, goals, objectives, the percentage of the time he will meet these goals, and behavior plan. The plan is revised every year and the parent has the right to call a meeting sooner if they feel it is necessary.
The people who form the IEP team are you as the parent, the child (when appropriate), the principal or other school representative, his special needs and regular teacher, anyone who has expertise knowledge of your child, and the person who can interpret the evaluation results. A parent can invite anyone they feel they would like to be a support for them during the meeting.
When your child reaches 14, a transition plan is implemented and a transition services representative becomes part of the IEP team. A transition plan assists with transitioning the child into adulthood. This will include tentative plans for employment, housing, post-secondary education, and finances.
In case of an instant where you feel the plan is not being adhered too or if you disagree with the IEP, do not sign. There is a grievance procedure you can follow. First of all try to work out a solution with the IEP team. Second, ask for mediation, third ask for due process and finally, if these measures have not solved the problem, file a complaint with the state education agency. As a last resort you would hire a lawyer to represent you in court.
Above all remember you are your child’s advocate. You know your child better then anyone, you represent your son’s best interests. It is okay to assertively insist that your child receive the services he needs.