We had our first IEP meeting last week. It wasn’t a “full” IEP meeting since we had requested to meet with our child’s Spanish teacher to discuss strategies for helping our son in that class.
Our son’s annual IEP takes place during the winter, so we were okay to only have a “partial.” Luckily, besides our son’s case manager and the Spanish teacher, the school psychologist, his counselor, and another member of the special needs staff were also able to attend.
I considered this valuable because we all need to get to know each other for the next four years, so why not start now. We had requested this meeting anyway, a few months ahead of his annual, so I figured it was lucky to start out on the right foot.
How was the meeting set up?
The Spanish teacher had contacted us regarding some early issues she was having with our son in her class.
This was fine with us. Every year I send out emails to my son’s teachers saying, “Contact us with any issue. We’re here to help our son and you. Please communicate with us.”
And, the Spanish teacher did.
We decided to meet. I contacted the school and my son’s case manager. We set up the meeting.
In the email with the case manager, she said, “Oh, by the way, your son is a high school student and we made it a policy to always include the student in the IEP meetings.”
We have no problems with that.
What did the meeting look like?
Well, I have a memory of my son attending an IEP during his elementary school years. I think the IEP was scheduled during a time when he couldn’t (or didn’t) attend class or an after school program.
He was younger and it was a distraction. I remember having to attend to him frequently.
We vowed to never do that again.
And, we didn’t.
It did seem appropriate because he’s not that little kid anymore.
So, my husband and I and our son attended the meeting.
We introduced ourselves to all the attendees and vice versa. Our son did a great job of introducing himself (we were very proud parents when he was called, “so polite.”)
The case manager and we (my husband and I) had a couple of minor issues to “clean up” from our son’s middle school transitional IEP. We took care of those things first.
Then, with the Spanish teacher, we discussed the issues she was having and strategies to help both our son and her.
As stated in my previous blog, a child with autism beginning to learn a new language is difficult. This meeting was set with the goal of helping our son adjust to this new class, and help the teacher with her job of teaching our son a new language.
With our son, the case manager, and the teacher we discussed how to motivate our son to do a better job of participating in the partner work and the group work in the class. I had her describe how she wants his notebook to look, and we went out and purchased the five subject notebook that she wants.
We also told her how we are doing extra Spanish work outside of class. My husband and I have committed to assisting our son with this class.
On the flip side, besides what she needed from our kid, we discussed our son with the teacher.
She said that she had experience with special needs kids. Which was good.
However, we also talked about our son as if he was the only one, because in this meeting, he was the one that she had to get to know. He had to get to know this special needs child.
I told her that he doesn’t give consistent eye contact.
I told her that he does sometimes “look” distracted, but he usually not. He just looks it.
I told her that he is a “fidgety” kid, but he has a fidget toy.
I told her that he’s not all that comfortable with the group singing, yet he promised to try.
All of these things were written into my son’s accommodations page.
How did my son do in the meeting?
He did awesome.
Besides the polite way he introduced himself, he stated his feelings about things a few times.
He said, “I’d like to say something…” And, then he did.
And, what he stated was appropriate to the meeting and the issue(s).
He was an active participate in his own IEP meeting.
How do we move forward?
Our son attends his IEP meetings.
The school is right, as an emerging young man, he has a right to be there. He’s no longer that little kid who will distract me. He has a right to hear what we’re talking about because he’s no getting any younger. Instead, he’s becoming an adult.
It was a great experience, and I encourage all parents of high school students to include their child in the IEP meeting. A Child with Autism Attends the IEP
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