IEP Goals for Children with Special Needs
Parents are an important part of the IEP team. We want to find the information and support we need to build adequate opportunities for our sons and daughters in whatever school programs are available or should be possible in our communities and neighborhoods.
Education is more than programs, textbook, placements and accommodations. We want our children to have positive social and friendship experiences, participation in assemblies and sports events, and a plan for refuge and safety when unexpected traumatic events happen.
It sometimes takes a better understanding of age related culture and experience during school years to help remind us of what we would like our children to share in a wide range of experiences.
When adults run out of imagination at IEP meetings, sometimes it is helpful to ask mainstream peers what they might suggest to encourage and support a child with special needs, to eliminate or substitute behaviors that are not working for a child with a disability, or create simple accommodations that are not obvious to adults.
We also want to add to the general morale of the school community, respecting - if not celebrating - the experience and perspective of teachers, staff and administrators. When a staff person says something positive, it's often helpful to repeat and discuss that comment briefly.
Counting to five silently after an unexpected suggestion is made can help defuse a tense moment, rather than responding immediately in a negative way, helps move the meeting along. Some parents bring a snack to meetings, as a gesture of good will and to have something to bite when the moments Mr. Rogers warned us about happen.
IEP meetings can be traumatic in the best situations, and it's good to have a friend to visit or call afterward - to unwind, wail, forget about it, laugh or cry. It may be that the staff members involved in the IEP are tense and uncomfortable in meetings, too, and so not at their best.
We are all only human, and sometimes the mistakes that educators and therapists make seem more serious than they may actually be. It may be that what a parent says at an IEP meeting may not be accepted immediately by staff, but over time your comments and observations may have a positive effect on the whole IEP team.
Don't despair - there are many paths to the goals that are important to you, and many other families who have walked there before you and beside you. Look for every ally and kindred spirit who will help.
Browse at your local bookstore or library, or at online booksellers like Amazon.com for titles like: 50 Ways to Support Your Child's Special Education: From IEPs to Assorted Therapies, an Empowering Guide to Taking Action, Every Day or Writing Measurable IEP Goals and Objectives
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National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities - NICHCY
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NICHCY Evidence for Education brief:
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Dr. Mac's Amazing Behavior Management Advice Site for Teachers - Thomas McIntyre
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