According to IDEA (1), schools are required by law to provide “a free appropriate public education to eligible children with disabilities throughout the nation and…special education and related services to those children.” Often, those accommodations might be an Individualized Education Plan, or an IEP. Educators may be well-intended, but ultimately they do not know your child as well as you. That’s why it’s important for parents to advocate for their child’s accommodations and ensure their needs are being met.
Part of advocating for your child’s accommodations is asking questions — in particular, asking the right questions. In today’s blog, we’ll prep you to advocate for your child’s needs by giving you the questions to ask the IEP team or school system.
“Does the Teacher Responsible For My Child’s Education Have Experience With Their Disability?”
The teacher’s experience can make a big difference to your child’s education. If a teacher is not equipped to teach students with learning disabilities — or students with your child’s particular disability, it will be overwhelming for them and detrimental for your child. A teacher for a child with disabilities should at least have studied special education and have credentials that show they are equipped for the task. Experience is better. Don’t be afraid to ask what qualifies your child’s teacher to work with them.
“What Are Our Goals For My Child’s Education?”
Note the key phrase here is “our,” meaning you should also be involved in planning IEP goals. These goals should be specific to your child’s particular methods of learning and challenges when it comes to learning. You also want to ensure that these goals help get a clear sense of where they will be after school. Suggest your own ideas for goals, ask for clarification on the goals that the school might have to ensure you’re on the same page, and hold them accountable to those goals.
“How Do I Issue a Complaint If I Have One?”
Hopefully, everything will go as smoothly as it can and you won’t have to file any grievances. However, in the event that you do need to issue a complaint, there needs to be clear communication about that process. In this case, you should not only ask the school but do your own research about your rights and your child’s rights. In the event that the school fails to communicate something essential to you, you’ll still be armed with the information you need to advocate for your child.
“How Will Any COVID-19 Safety Measures Affect My Child’s Accommodations?”
Schools are slowly lowering their COVID-19 safety precautions, returning to in-person classrooms and even considering doing away with mask mandates — for better or worse. However, the past two years have been a time of uncertainty. If another COVID-19 variant becomes widespread, classrooms may return to social distance learning. The uncertainty can be stressful when your child relies on the routine of their IEP. That’s why it’s good to know what to expect ahead of time, and to know that the school has a plan to continue providing accommodations.
Ask Specific Questions About Your Child’s Needs
Every case is different, which is why IEPs are individualized. Even amongst two children with the same learning disability, they may have unique challenges that the other simply can’t understand. Think about your child’s specific needs, their specific challenges with learning and with classrooms. Make sure these are clearly communicated, and ask questions so that it’s clear the team handling their education understands.
You are your child’s best advocate when it comes to their IEP and accommodations. That’s why NeuroBehavioral Associates has resources available for parents attempting to advocate for their child in school and outside of it. Contact us today to learn more information or to schedule an evaluation for your child.
- About IDEA – US Department of Education