How to Be an Effective Participant in the IEP Process

IEP Guide

August 30, 2018

In the excerpt below from Individualized Education Programs: Summary, Process and Practical Tips, prepared for Autism Speaks by Goodwin Procter LLP, experts share four ways you can be an effective participant in developing and managing your child’s IEP:

Be Organized

You should maintain a calendar that tracks your child’s annual IEP process, including all important deadlines and meetings. In addition, one of the most important ways you can be an effective participant in your child’s IEP is to retain and organize all of the information relating to your child’s school and  medical records. Organization tools such as a three-ring binder or a file drawer can be useful to allow for easy access to important documents as you need it during the IEP process. You should retain and  organize the following information:

  1. all school records, including report cards,  attendance and disciplinary records, and  evaluations;
  2. your child’s IEP and your notes from all  IEP meetings;
  3. all correspondence to and from your  child’s school and the school district, including the envelopes with date stamps;
  4. forms and informational materials sent to you by the school district;
  5. your child’s health and medical records  and any letters from your child’s health  professionals;
  6. any evaluations conducted outside the IEP process (e.g., by private practitioners);
  7. any research you gather regarding  programs and services that may be appropriate to incorporate into your child’s IEP program;
  8. information on any private programs or service options you research that may meet  your child’s specific needs;
  9. contact information for all individuals with whom you interact during the IEP process; and
  10. a journal to track all meetings, telephone  and in-person conversations and other  correspondence with individuals involved in the IEP process, including the date and time, the  participants, the substance of the meeting,  conversation or correspondence and any  necessary follow-up actions and attempts.

Track Your Child’s  Process

Over the course of the year, you should track your child’s progress in school to help identify the areas in which your child is excelling and struggling. This will be particularly helpful as you and the IEP team draft goals for your child’s annual updated IEP program. Keep in regular contact with your child’s teacher and make sure you regularly review your child’s school work.

Research School  Programs

Do not only rely on your school or school district to provide information regarding programs and services that may be effective to meet your child’s particular educational needs. Conduct your own research on the programs and services that may be appropriate for your child and be prepared to raise these with your child’s IEP team.

Prepare For and Attend  IEP Meetings

Take time to prepare for your child’s IEP meetings by reviewing the files and materials you have gathered. Based on this review, prepare notes or a draft of what you believe should be incorporated into your child’s IEP. In particular, take time to identify what goals and objectives you believe should be incorporated into your child’s IEP program. If your child has an existing IEP, review its goals, consider progress to date, the appropriateness of placement and/or services  provided to achieve such goals, and your views on portions of the existing IEP to be changed or maintained. Also, be sure to identify and vocalize any  particular concerns you have about your child’s  current IEP program.

Read more about the eligibility evaluation and other steps in the IEP process in the Autism Speaks IEP Guide.