Little Miss turns 3 in September which means the end of our IFSP and a transfer into the school system and establishing an IEP. We recently attended our transitions meeting and as I prepared myself for the IFSP review and the transition meeting, I felt overwhelmed by the information and process of IEPs. In my research, the name Wrightslaw was mentioned several times by various people.
Who is Wrightlaw you ask? Wrightslaw is a leading educator for parents, caregivers, teachers, and lawyers on special education law and advocacy. I was lucky enough to attend a Wrightslaw presentation this past week in Greensboro. It was a 2 hour drive to my destination, but well worth the trip.
As part of the conference fee, I was provided with 3 books:
Wrightslaw: All About IEPs, Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, 2nd Edition
A lot of emphasis was placed on the Law book which Pete said was because most people find the laws behind IEPs overwhelming, so he presented it in a manner that made the information understandable and user friendly. The Law book is however, more of a reference book, but the lecture helped me to become familiar with specific codes and reference points.
However, the amount of information in each of the books provided would be nearly impossible to cover in a 1 day lecture, so he gave us homework to come home and read From Emotions to Advocacy on our own time. This book essentially empowers the parent/caretaker to become a better advocate for their child by thinking realistically and taking an approach that is driven by reason rather than emotion. *This is something that has been the most difficult for me, and most parents, because when it comes to our kid(s) I can be very emotional.* What I need to remember is that, for the most part, everyone that is apart of the IEP team is interested in my child being successful and reaching the goals that are set for her. Establishing a good working relationship with the people at that table is more likely to be accomplished if I communicate with them rationally and reasonably.
The training began and ended with pre-test/post-test. Some of the highlights are as follows:
IDEA 2004 consists of many sections in the US Code beginning at 20 U.S.C. Section 1400. The most critical of sections are between section 1400 and 1415.
The purpose of special ed law, IDEA 2004, is to ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free and appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living, and to ensure that the rights of children with disabilities and parents of such children are protected.
Was the conference overwhelming? yes. Do I still find IEPs a scary? A little, but not so much. Did I gain confidence and understanding? Absolutely.
After all, what better way to advocate for your child with special needs than to be familiar with the law that was established to encourage the growth and development of your child within the school system?