Sunday, September 28, 2008

Longest IEP in History

I recently accompanied a family to an IEP meeting in a small town that has never before had parents question the services their children receive. I come from San Diego, where services for children on the Autism Spectrum are fairly abundant in comparison. A typical IEP meeting for me is at least three hours long and includes an average of five additional team members. I was prepared for a long fight for what my client needed in order to make meaningful progress toward his goals, especially since this was his first real IEP meeting. (Every meeting for him up to this point was 20 minutes maximum!) Not surprisingly, the meeting lasted well over three hours and is now known as "The longest IEP in the history of the school district." -I think it is important to point out that my client received everything his parents requested, all of which was reasonable.
I wanted to share this experience because I know there are many parents used to showing up to their child's IEP for a brief meeting that turns into a simple conversational review of the progress made (or lack of). When the school district is held accountable for the education they are supposed to provide and the IEP is dissected line-by-line, the meeting will certainly last longer than 20 minutes. I know parents can be exhausted by the terminology and sometimes condescending attitude of school officials, which is why I often recommend bringing someone along to be your voice. I understand that I do not make many friends in school districts by advocating for parents, but frankly I don't care. I simply want our children to receive the services they are entitled. Fight the good fight!

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