Children with ADHD often do not qualify for an Individualized Educational Program (IEP) in school, but for some, especially those with co-existing, behavioral or learning disabilities, an IEP might be warranted. Often, parents are unprepared for IEP meetings at the school. Many times, this might be a first experience with such a formal meeting. Sitting face to face with school psychologists, counselors, teachers and administration can be intimidating and daunting.
Parents may show up for the meeting, believing the school will have all the tools and information needed at their fingertips, ready to implement any and all resources to help their child succeed. And for the most part, schools are more than willing to accommodate the special needs of children. But as parents, you should be prepared for the meeting with information to help the school make a determination. Some of the information you may have readily available and some you may need to gather in the weeks before the initial meeting.
Samples of Work
Make copies of your child’s homework, showing both his or her weaknesses and strengths. An IEP meeting should not only be about what your child cannot do, but should include information on his or her strengths. The team can use this information to help build upon skills already learned and set up programs to develop skills your child may be lacking.
Copies of Evaluations
Has your child been evaluated outside of school? Some parents will have their child independently evaluated for learning disabilities or your child may have been evaluated by a psychologist or psychiatrist for behavioral problems. Make a copy of the complete evaluation to bring with you to the meeting.
Copies of Assessments
If a professional outside the school district completed any assessments, including educational testing, on your child, the results of the assessments should be brought to the IEP meeting.
Your family doctor may have diagnosed your child with ADHD, a psychologist may have diagnosed your child with learning disabilities and a psychiatrist may have diagnosed your child with behavioral problems. No matter how many different doctors have seen your child, make copies of all of the diagnosis so the IEP team can have a clear picture of all the issues your child may be facing.
Some counselors or doctors may make recommendations for school based accommodations based on their evaluation or their work with your child. Ask any doctor who has been seeing your child if they have recommendations and if so, could he or she put them in writing for you to bring with you. For example, a counselor may recommend your child have positive reinforcement programs in place to help with certain behavioral issues. This information is important for the IEP team to be aware of and to take into consideration when developing a plan of action.
Many parents will research and read about their child’s specific diagnosis. If so, there may be valuable information you have read that may be valuable to the IEP team. Most educational and medical professionals will be leery of information copied directly from the internet or from unknown sources. Be sure to include sources of the research, including publication name, author and date of publication. The more reputable the source, the more weight the information and research will carry.
Some parents work with an educational consultant or advocate to help guide them through the IEP process. Many times the advocate or consultant will come to the meeting with the parents, however, in some cases, parents prefer to work with the advocate for the purposes of preparing for the meeting and prefer to attend the meeting alone. In this case, the advocate may have completed forms or provided paperwork to back explain his or her recommendations.
Before attending the meeting, take the time to organize your paperwork. There may be some paperwork you prefer not to hand to every team member, such as confidential medical records, but for any paperwork you plan to share with all members, make copies beforehand. For confidential medical records, bring along one copy for review during the meeting.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.