We know that the beginning of the year can be stressful. For some parents, needing an IEP for their child can add additional stress and anxiety. Navigating the IEP process can seem daunting, but with the right information and knowledge of your rights and the rights of your child, you can be well prepared for an IEP meeting. We’d love to walk you through the process and put your mind at ease!
When you receive a letter in the mail stating that a meeting will be held regarding your child’s speech and language, make sure you sign the paper that you will be able to meet with the team at your child’s school or that you would like to change the date. If the date and time are not convenient for you, that is okay! You have the right to change the meeting to a time that is convenient for you.
The first meeting will be to talk about the concerns regarding speech and/or language skills. Members of the IEP team include you, the speech-language pathologist, the classroom teacher, and a local education agency, which may mean a counselor or principal. All of you will decide together whether or not your child should be tested for speech or language services. If you have an older child in middle or high school, he can be at the meeting to provide his input as well. You are entitled to bring anyone to the meeting. You can bring a grandparent, a trusted friend, an attorney, or even another speech-language pathologist. You can also request certain people to be at the meeting, such as a certain classroom teacher or administrator.
If you decide to have your child tested, the speech-language pathologist (SLP) can share how your child will be tested, what tests will be given and listen to your concerns. Once your child is tested, you will receive another letter to have a meeting to discuss the results. Again, you can bring someone to the meeting with you if you choose. If your child qualifies to receive services in the school, the team-which includes you-will set up some goals for the speech-language pathologist to work on with your child throughout the year. You will discuss the frequency that your child will receive services and how those services will be provided. You will also talk about your child’s medical history, development, other concerns you have, as well as your child’s strengths and weaknesses. This will all be documented in an Individualized Education Program or IEP.
Speech-language therapy through the school system is always a free service to you and your child. Your child’s speech-language pathologist will send home progress reports throughout the year and you can contact the SLP at any time to discuss progress. Each year, the team will update the IEP with any changes to goals or to consider any other services that may be beneficial for your child. Every three years, your child will be assessed and you can see how much progress your child has made throughout the year. Remember that the IEP team includes YOU. You know your child best and the IEP team wants to work with you to help your child succeed!
If you have any questions about your child’s speech and language development, the IEP process, or ways that we can work together to help your child, please contact us— we would love to assist your family!
Margie Busby, M.S. CCC-SLP