We're prepping ourselves for Little Miss' first IEP meeting. We're getting everyone together well before the time frame the paperwork needs to be filed because we'll be moving right around the time she turns 3. The meeting is scheduled for March 3, but I was just informed the IFSP can't be transferred to an IEP until 60 days from her 3rd birthday. I'm slightly disappointed because I really want to make this move with our IEP in place, but it doesn't look like that is going to happen.
However, this delay does allow me the opportunity to better educate myself about the process of creating and developing an IEP. First and foremost on the agenda, advocating for the best educational scenario for my Peanut. Having sat through IFSP meetings and creating goals, I was feeling pretty confident about our March 3rd meeting. Then as I sat down to sort through all the paperwork, more and more questions started coming up. Where will she be going to school? How often? Who will be doing her therapy? How will I know the therapy is being done?
I decided I needed an advocate. I asked Ms case manager if she could recommend someone, she couldn't but said she would ask around. She came back to me after talking with a few other case managers and these other case managers (not knowing she was asking for me) recommended my name as an advocate. Although it made me happy to hear that, it still leaves me without an advocate. Granted I keep myself educated and am willing to fight for services for Little Miss, but I'm also well aware that I don't know it all and that I can get overly involved when it comes to protecting my kid.
So, until I find someone to sit through the meetings with us, I'm going to reading up on being a better advocate. I registered myself for a class through Wrightslaw and bought myself a book: "From Emotions to Advocacy".
If you haven't heard of Wrightslaw, I highly recommend their website. There's a lot of great information on education law and advocacy. They are a well known reputable group that advocates and empowers. The conference isn't until April, but I'm excited to attend and learn more about what I can do for Little Miss and others that are navigating this crazy system of special education.
For now my recommendation: start early. I thought scheduling our meeting over a month in advance was plenty of time to get organized. It's not. Our Army Rep made a great suggestion: get a binder and keep 2 years worth of records for medical, evaluations, and assessments. Bring this binder with you to your meetings. If school officials suggest your child can't participate in a particular setting, you can have medical documentation by your side to say otherwise.
Obviously, I'm new to this...what suggestions would you give to someone planning an IEP? What do you think it worth fighting for or not? How helpful has your school district been to comply with your requests?