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Winter 2000 Table of Contents
Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

Advocacy Tips and Techniques: Ideas by and from Parents and Those Supporting Parents and Children

Reprinted with permission. Parent Education Project of Wisconsin, Inc.
Information and Consulting on Special Education Issues
<http://members.aol.com/pepofwi

Editors note: Anyone who has ever attended ARD/IEP meetings knows how stressful they can become. These meetings can quickly get out of control if you haven't done your homework. Even parents who are also in the field of special education, have noted that ARD/IEP meetings are very different when it is for their own child. These parents know their rights, the process, the "right way" to participate; but it can all go out the window with one comment about their child from a professional. Getting a handle on your emotions will make the negotiations more effective. One strategy I encourage parents to use is to schedule informal meetings with their child's teachers and therapists to discuss concerns and review any assessments BEFORE the ARD/IEP meeting. This allows all parties to know ahead of time any issues that need to be addressed. No one likes to be broad-sided. Besides, most of us need time to process and investigate options in order to have an appropriate response. Routine contact between school and home through communication notebooks, phone calls, videotapes, home visits, and classroom visits can prevent the buildup of misunderstandings. Frequent discussions between parents and staff clarifies expectations and takes the edge off the formality of the ARD/IEP meeting itself. The following article gives practical strategies for making your next ARD/IEP meeting successful instead of stressful.

BRING A BUDDY

A recent PEP-WI survey revealed that only about 18 percent of parents are bringing someone (friend, spouse, neighbor, relative, etc.) with them when they go to IEP meetings. From experience, we know that when the parent brings someone to the meeting who is knowledgeable about the child or who has special expertise, the tenor of the meeting becomes more mutually collaborative, more mutually respectful, and frequently more productive. Children's needs remain the focus; all members of the IEP team are more likely to work together to create solutions. You can improve the quality and effectiveness of your child's IEP Team meetings by bringing a buddy. Here are some ideas to help:

IF YOU THINK THE MEETING IS GOING TO BE STRESSFUL

If you think that your meeting with the IEP Team is going to be stressful, try these suggestions:

Information from The Wisconsin Collaborator, PEP-WI, July 1999 published by Parent Education Project of Wisconsin, 2192 S. 60th St., West Allis, WI 53219-1568. Phone (414) 328-5520 and fax (414) 328-5530.


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