I signed an IEP for my child and I am Happy


I'm happy with the work we have accomplished on behalf of our children. It has taken 4 and 5 years respectively of extensive and persistent work to get IEPs in place for two of our 6 children. Our two sons really needed the IEPs in place far sooner! 10 years of funding cuts to education and programs for special needs children in our province, has really meant that we have had tireless courage and fortitude to fight for our children rights in order that they might have their special needs met in the school. And then you have to be careful with school personnel who are misguided and write an easy IEP that further victimizes the special needs child by labeling the needs as behavioural problems.
Now the IEPs are in place thankfully, but they lack real weight again because of budget cuts. The schools our understaffed and thus pay little attention to the IEPs you have to continuously remind them of their need to apply the IEPs.
Some parents in our situation have given up on the public schools and enrolled their children in private schools, some have tried to work within the public schools and failed, others have succeeded like us but really for what, and still others just give up and...
I am a Dr. of Psychology and have specialized in working with families, children, and adults with learning disabilities, I know that for those that our neglected it will significantly impact their lives, and for a few the world is so confusing they get lost in a world of crime not always by choice. I personally believe there is a strong correlation between cutting funding to schools and special needs programs and the future increase funding for prison/jail construction.
In conclusion I'm saddened by what our government has done to our schools and if we had the funds, we would have enrolled our children in private schools, but a large family requires other expenses take a priority.
Sometimes I really believe that the intent is for the public school system to fail, but

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Now a parent of a special needs child, I look back on my teaching career with emotion

I was a teacher for 6 years. Throughout that experience I worked with many special needs children. Mostly because I did well with them, so administrators and parents felt good with their kids in my class. I was at many countless IEP meetings. If I had known then what I know now. I would be such a different teacher. I would be so much more understanding to the kids, the parents, and the special ed teachers. Having an autistic son has taught me so much. These kids are so special. They are the love of someone's life. And most parents are trying to do the best they can and deal with their situation. I was good with special kids and their parents, but could have been, should have been, so much better.

I want the absolute best for my son, no matter what. I sit in his IEP meetings and really wonder if they have his best interest at heart. Do they really get him, love him, want to help him. It is his life we are discussing here. And you know what, I am not ashamed to admit that I need help, daily. We struggle with so many issues and I look to his school staff for guidance and help. I am happy with his schooling so far. His IEPs have addressed his needs and have had reasonable goals attached. And his teachers have worked very hard at helping him reach his goals.

I could go on and on about this forever, but I will conclude by saying again that I am now sitting on the other side of the table and have experienced both. Special education really is so important. These kids and parents need so much guidance, support, and love. And these teachers (the ones that do care and are doing their job, which most are) need respect and understanding. It should be a relationship where everyone involved is truly working together and doing the best they can for that particular student.

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Why Is Requesting an IEP a Call to Arms?

My 3 y-o, Abby, has a diagnosis of Childhood Apraxia of Speech. She turned 3 in Dec. 2008 and had her first IEP in Jan. 2009. At the time, her goals were based on assessments from the birth-3 program. Abby met all but her speech goals in the first three months. I asked for an IEP at that time, but was given the run-around, "We still work on that in the classroom" and "We only have IEP's annually." I accepted it. Abby was making excellent progress. I visited her class and saw from the work and notes she brought home that she was doing well.
I was more persistent this school year. Knowing that the "I" in IEP stands for Individual, I thought it was important for her to work on skills specifically to address her needs. (My goal: be prepared for kindergarten.) I spent weeks researching her disability, seeking input from parents and reviewing her last IEP. Perhaps I was a little too prepared for her meeting. I had more paper than the rest of the attendees combined: 3 pages of questions as well as her previous IEP marked liberally with post-its and a parent input letter that I spent about 3 hours composing. (The last suggested by parents and various websites as a way to introduce your child.)
I was very nervous about this meeting which was further aggravated by my inability to arrive anywhere on time. The day of the meeting I was 10 min. late and embarrassed about making everyone wait. I brought my mother with me for support but didn't feel the need for an advocate as Abby has had no issues, I just wanted to update her goals.

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Great experience in Burbank

Our son has a yearly IEP. After multiple IEPs with the LAUSD, they continued to get better as time went on.

We recently moved to Burbank, which necessitated a new IEP within 30 days of starting school in that district. Our son has autism and is being mainstreamed this year at Washington Elementary.

I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of support, and the personal involvement of the principal. Everyone at the meeting was very happy with our current level of involvement both with our son's teacher and with the school as a whole. They were all supportive of my son and felt like he was in the right place.

I am very relieved and happy with my child's current IEP. They are focusing on his behavior issues and we discussed many strategies. Our words went right into the IEP. I felt heard and I'm optimistic for my son's success.

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My situation:
My son is a 6th grade student.
He came to the US from Guatemala when he was 3 years old and only spoke "baby spanish".
He stopped speaking for about 6 months
He finally received Speech Therapy through Child Development Services
So, it's been an ongoing race to catch up with his peers
Started receiving special ed services in second grade
To qualify they gave him a language disability
Current services are: ESL, Speech, Math, Reading, Language
Receives EYS plus attends a "summer reading academy" for 4 weeks every summer
We have a private tutor whom he loves and she loves him
He continues to make progress but doesn't catch up to his peers, always behind the moving target
I've been very happy with the IEP and ongoing support from the school until last year, 5th grade. He had a horrible teacher who only saw his disability and not his ability. She tried very hard to move him out of her classroom and into the self contained classroom, and she and I fought constantly. Fortuntely, the special education director told her she would not move my son because of the support he receives at home. If it was different home enviorment she would have done it.
He just started 6th grade and is in middle school.
I've signed his IEP for this year after many revisions and feel good about where are we now. In the past, I won't sign the IEP unless it meets my objectives. I've taken a number of workshops through Maine Parent Federation and feel like I understand the IEP process and know how to "talk the talk". School systems behavior is like another planet, I always feel like I go the moon when I go to an IEP meetings.
I've added a "potrait" about my son for new school personal to read so they know his background. We live in Maine and there aren't many kids like him, adopted internationally at a late age. Most adopted kids I know have come to the US as infants.
I would like to see the report when you are finished.

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Every Parent with aSpecial Needs Child Should Have an Advocate

I had a fiasco at the end of this last school year. I was glad that I had signed my IEP, but dismayed at the fact that the state and the school thought that they could change mid stream. I eventually won my battle with the school district, and have now started the school year off with transportation for my daughter, but after all this and talking to other parents I found that most of them were scared to fight for their child's rights or did not understand that they had rights. I think that every parent with a special needs child should have an advocate that does not work for the government. Parents need to understand their rights and not in the legal mumbo jumbo and oh, its no big deal....fashion that most of us get pushed our way.

I could go on and on, but, I do have a story, if you would like more info.


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Focus on the Students Gifts

Hi, I am responding to your Haro request. I was a child who grew up under
the IEP process. I thought you might be interested in my perspective now
that I am in my last year of college (Beacon College, only 4 year
accredited Learning Disability college in America).

In public elementary school I was in a contained class room for three years
and then went onto private LD schools for the remainder of my schooling.
My parents used the IEP as a tool to work with me. It was almost my
roadmap to help me understand what I needed to do and also helped me feel
that I was moving forward in my academics.

The IEP process was painful in that sometimes my Mom would cry (in
elementary school), but as we moved into middle and high school we really
used it to our advantage. My Mom helps other parents with their concerns
and also speaks to parents who are looking at sending students from my high
school onto Beacon College.

In college I use a mentor and we kind of use the same IEP process in
working through my classes and what I need to do for each class, but on a
weekly basis.

On a personal note, I started my own clothing company when I was seventeen
and am now one of the online money advisors for Seventeen magazine and have
just been featured in "Chicken Soup for the Soul for Extra-Ordianary
Teens". In this book I talk about how difficult it was to have LD, but
everyone has gifts and that is what parents should focus on. We in America
always try and fix what is broken so parents get tutors for what their LD
kids are doing poorly at. Maybe a different approach (my parents did this)
is to focus on the students gifts because an investment of 150% towards the
gift will produce a 1000% result and the student will be successful and
happy with the end result.

I now go to public schools and speak to students about my success, but also
help them understand that I have a significant learning disability.

Chelsea Eubank

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The only "fair" fight is one you win

My son has just graduated High School, and he had an IEP since he was in pre-school. Here's my advice to other parents of special-needs children, FWIW:

1. Don't wait. The bureaucrat's favorite weapon is delay, and every day counts when you're talking about your kid's future. Never agree to "work it out at the next meeting", because it won't happen. Every day counts.
2. Don't wimp out. If you feel that the school isn't giving your child what (s)he deserves, use nuclear artillery to make them do what's right. Remind yourself that they do this every day, and that you need someone on your side that does it every day, too. If it comes to lawyers, get the best: you don't want the guy who advertises on TV, or the guy with the office right next to the courthouse. You must find a law firm that specializes in special-needs education law and has a successful track record. Trust me on this: you don't want F. Lee Bailey - you want his evil twin.
3. Don't pretend your child is normal. Schools are expert at pretending that even severely handicapped children can be "mainstreamed" and given minimal "accommodations" that will cost the school very little and accomplish even less. Be on your guard for appeals to your vanity and assurances that your child will grow out of it: never forget that anything which costs less is what they'll try to do.
4. Don't let them shame you. In my first IEP meeting, the school's director of special-needs education told me that he had to consider the well-being of every child in the school. I answered by saying "I don't care about other children. I'm only interested in my son's well-being". The man was (literally) speechless, and I think it was because he had never seen someone who would be so honest and willing to say it out loud. As I said, remember that they do this every day, so you'll have to bring your best game and be willing to admit you need help.

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Robby's IEP

I want to explain my choice above, I am only happy, because it forced his teachers to help him. My Son Robby, who is now 22, has Central Auditory Processing Disorder, at the time was not reconized by the Social Security Administration as a LD, so he was funded under specific Learning disabled, 2 years language delayed.
My experience was horrible for the most part and I had to get outside help in making sure that the IEP was followed and the approiate goals where listed and mastered.
The goals seemed to be reworded every year, and the 3 year testing guideline was never followed in less forced and testing by an audiologist never happened.
What helped Robby the most was the first line of his IEP, to sit in the front of the classroom.
As a Parent I was overwhelmed, I had to learn everything without guidance from the School Board, I learned most of what I have learned online or by private professionals. My personal opinion is that Schools officals are told to put as little as possible on the IEP, to not tell the parents their options and that they lie.
But without the IEP in place.....Robby wouldn't have gotton what he did get and the help he needed.
It is a great tool to help these kids, but it is a constant battle to make sure it is followed.

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IEP - good

This is my daughter's 6th grade year. She has had an IEP every year since she started kindergarten. I am very pleased with the IEPs. They give some definition to the process of her learning. The goals and methods, the percentages are all very specific information. Having that specific information enables me to give specific input and make specific requests. I am in a school district that is known for its excellence. That being said, I know plenty of parents who are NOT happy with their child's IEP.

One year I hired an educational consultant - former teacher - who did all the negotiating for me. I knew I was going to want some specifics that the IEP team would not necessarily want and I did not want to be the "bad guy". She used all their lingo and almost humored them into it. It was wonderful to be able to sit back and watch. As we approach junior high and high school, we may have to go that route again but we'll wait and see.

My daughter's teachers and school have done an excellent job. Do I wish they did more? Of course. But it isn't a private tutor, it is a public school, so I am grateful for how well my daughter is doing and the fact that the staff takes as much interest in her success as I do!

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