You know your kid is amazing.
But how do you help professionals see past a diagnosis?
Yes, they’ve got special needs.
But how do you balance showing off their strengths while also being open about their weaknesses?
We just completed our first IEP and rode the little roller coaster of emotions that come with the hundred pages of evaluations, results, and next steps.
And as emotional as it was, thank God, it went beautifully.
Here’s what we learned.
what’s an IEP?
An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a plan to help kids with special needs reach their educational goals. Praise God we live in a country where us parents get to be a big part of it.
(information below from the AMAZING Intervention Center for Early Childhood)
getting ready for preschool | an approx. timeline
- 0-3 years old | Your baby is in early intervention under Regional Center
- 5 months ’til 3 | IFSP Meeting with Regional Center/Transition Meeting with future Preschool
- 1 month ’til 3 | All the fun District Assessments
- 2 weeks ’til 3 | IEP Meeting
- 3 years old | After signing the IEP, your baby is now in PRESCHOOL!
the hard part | what to have ready
When getting ready for the Transition, IEP meetings or any introduction to a professional who will work with your child, here’s a checklist of what can help to have ready:
- List of goals + concerns
- List of your kid’s likes + dislikes
- Emergency contact information
- Medical/Immunization records
- Milestone Dates (e.g. 1st time sleeping through the night, rolling over, solid food, etc.)
- Latest Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP)
- Current Assessments/Evaluations (Ask for a copy of any assessments you’ll be reviewing prior to the meeting)
- Your calendar
- List of any special requests
optional but always helpful
- Snacks/Drinks (because no one likes being hangry)
- A therapist/advocate who knows your child and can help collaborate over next steps
- Addressing each person by name – Following the golden rule, if you want them to care for you, I encourage you to take the time to care for them. It goes a long way.
- Remembering you have options – You don’t have to sign what you receive. You don’t have to go with that specific professional. You don’t have to agree with the results. You know your child best and you can decide what is best for them.
transition meeting handouts
Below were our Transition Meeting Handouts to Regional Center and the preschool (see downloads below if you’d like to edit one for your kid).
at the assessments
From the Transition Meeting, you’ll be scheduling several assessments potentially including the following:
- School Psychologist
- Speech Therapist
- Occupational Therapist
- Physical Therapist
- Early Interventionists
- Doctor/Nurse for vision, hearing, and any other medical concern
Often, we were asked the same questions by different people so it was useful to hand them copies of the Transition Meeting Handouts (see downloads below).
IEP Meeting Handout
A few nights before, I got a copy of the IEP draft and read through the 50 pages on Knightly. It was a lot of information. I updated my questions/notes for the meeting and prayed for wisdom for the meeting.
It was all hitting me the morning of his IEP. Soon I’d have to say goodbye to his amazing early intervention. My baby was actually starting school. And my brain was rewiring itself to not get hung up on test results that say “below average” or “poor”.
As I walked in, I was greeted by the director of our early intervention group. She was the first face I saw when we walked into early intervention when Knightly was just 6 weeks old. She smiled and hugged me and said, “Can you believe Knightly is already here?” – and that’s when the tears started coming.
I prayed silently that God would help me be strong and thanked Him that these people were just here to help.
As I walked in, there were 7 professionals and stacks of paper awaiting me. We smiled, thanked everyone and started passing out an IEP Meeting Handout for each person:
Complete with SUBWAY to GO meals
Our IEP lasted 2.5 hours.
When all was said and done, we left absolutely relieved. We got to show off the gift our little boy was whilst addressing every concern we had. We felt the staff truly cared. We adjusted a few goals after asking to review them before signing. A week later, we signed off on the IEP and thanked God that we felt great about this new team and the next steps for our son.
want a copy? | the downloads
If you would like to use any of these templates, please by all means! The links to download and edit them to show off your beautiful kid are below:
- Transition Meeting Notes for the Parents
- Transition Meeting Handouts #1, #2, #3, and #4
- IEP Meeting Notes for the Parents
- IEP Meeting Handout
other IEP resources
- Wrights Law
- California Special Education – A Composite of the Laws: 800.995.4099
- Disability Rights of California Rights and Responsibilities: 800.776.5746
- Special Needs advocates
- For those in CA, contact your local Regional Center and TASK force
what advice would you add?
I’d LOVE to get any feedback or tips that you recommend adding to this post, please leave a comment or message me here!
was this helpful?
If this has been of any help, please consider giving a gift to the incredible organization the Intervention Center for Early Childhood (ICEC) who provided most of this information in helping us prepare for our IEP.
ICEC is an incredible early intervention organization for kids with special needs from the ages 0-3. They have literally held Knightly’s hand to teach him to hold his first toy, take his first step, say his first word and so much more. Would you give back to this incredible organization that touches SO many lives like our own? Gift to ICEC here.
‘Til our next chat my dears. God bless your journey!
With love and hugs,