Besides Me, Who Will Be at My Child's IEP Meeting?

As a parent you are the first member of your child's IEP team. But there are other members who come and go depending on the needs of your child.

The Core Team Members

While there are a stunning array of people who will move onto and off of the IEP field, three players will probably do the largest amount of ball-carrying for students with special needs. They're the ones who will send you letters announcing scheduled meetings, and the ones who will hand you the 5,000 copies of the booklets on knowing your rights. They'll be responsible for evaluating your child on arrival in the system and periodically thereafter. One of these individuals will probably be assigned as your child's case manager.

The School Psychologist: Back before RTI, the psychologist is the person who will give your child IQ tests and other psychological surveys as part of the evaluation portion of IEP planning. The psychologist may make observations during the meeting about your child's psychological state or concerns. If your child is having problems during the school year that require counseling, this psychologist may be able to help, or there may be another school psychologist who handles counseling of students.

Special Education Teacher: The special education teacher is the person who will give your child tests that assess level of educational achievement and ability. The special education teacher may make observations during the meeting about the appropriate educational placement for your child. Should your child need special learning techniques, modifications and accommodations in the classroom, the special education teacher will be able to strategize those with you and the teacher, and help monitor progress. This teacher will be charged with outlining your child's educational progress and prognosis for the IEP, and with gathering opinions from all other teachers as appropriate. What you hear from the teacher at the meeting should be consistent with what you've been hearing throughout the year. If not, ask why. If you haven't been talking with the teacher throughout the year ... well, then I'll ask, why not? Don't be a stranger.

The Social Worker: The social worker is the person who will take down a family history during the evaluation process. The social worker may make observations during the meeting about your child's relationships with other students and general participation in the school experience. Should your child need special assistance with peer relationships and conflicts, the social worker may be able to arrange appropriate programs.

The Regular Education Teacher: From the school's point of view, nobody knows your child better than the teacher. So it's natural for the teacher to be involved in the planning of the IEP. Your child's regular education teacher will always be at the meeting. That's good news for you if you've built a rapport with a teacher, or if a teacher has a particularly good feel for your child's abilities and needs. If your child has multiple teachers in the course of a school day, they won't all crowd the meeting.

The Speech Therapist: The speech therapist works with your child on receptive and expressive language. In clear language, what that means is that what your child understands of what people tell him, how she is able to make that understanding clear, and how she is able to make her own self understood are all within the speech therapist's area of interest. This includes both types of articulation -- the proper production of speech sounds, and the proper forming of thoughts into words. Be sure all your concerns for your child's language usage and understanding are being addressed, not just her ability to move lips and tongue properly.

The Physical Therapist (PT): The physical therapist works on your child's gross motor skills -- no, not the ability to burp impressively or spit across the room, but the movement of major muscle groups to make big movements like walking, running, catching a ball or kicking it. Once your child is in school, there may be a particular emphasis on skills that enable a student to make it untroubled through a school day, like walking without jumping or flapping, participating in gym class, or carrying a lunch tray or a binder. You should listen to the goals set by the PT and make sure they're meaningful to your child's life and priorities.

The Occupational Therapist (OT): As the PT looks at gross motor, the OT deals with fine motor skills, those small precise movements we all take for granted and our kids can't do if you paid them. Things like printing and handwriting clearly. Tying shoes. Coloring in the lines. Turning a combination lock. Did I mention printing and handwriting clearly? The occupational therapist will, and writing is likely one of the things that will pop up in OT goals. If your school therapist happens to be trained in sensory integration therapy, you may be able to have some of that calming, organizing activity written into your child's plan as well. It will have to be undertaken in a way that makes it important to schooling, however. (Like being able to remain seated, or keep from disrupting the class.)

Turn in for Part Two, Who Will Be at the IEP Meeting?


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Welcome to my all thing special education blog. I empower busy elementary special education teachers to use best practice strategies to achieve a data and evidence driven classroom community by sharing easy to use, engaging, unique approaches to small group reading and math. Thanks for Hopping By.
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