The Dreaded IEP…

You know, I’ve read books about the IEP, I’ve watched speakers talk about the IEP, I’ve talked to teachers about the IEP… and I’ve listened to my other special needs friends talk about IEP.

And, I think we’re all wrong.


  1. The books- they were written about specific children in specific scenarios. As far as I’m concerned, each child is unique and differently abled, so let’s not put all Special Needs kids in a box and get everyone hyped up about it.
  2. Speakers- They speak on their own experience, not on mine. And 9 times out of 10, I can’t even relate to them.
  3. Teachers- Teachers speak from their side. Not all of them want what is best for our kids, they want what’s best for the environment. That’s not to say that some teachers aren’t fantastic (because they ARE!), but some hate the IEP because it forces them to do extra things that they just really don’t want to do.
  4. Parents- Oh parents. The IEP is set up to provide a set of goals for the child. This does not mean that it is all out war. I have heard far too many stories of parents going in, guns a’blazin’, to the IEP meeting. This does nothing for your position. It makes you look like you aren’t educated and it will cause animosity. This is not about YOU. It’s about your child. (and yes, I realize that your child is an extension of you…and that you want what’s best…)

So, here’s my plan to make IEP day much easier…and totally tolerable for everyone involved.

  1. Get up, get dressed, put on deodorant, and wear something other than lounge pants and your husband’s college hoodie.
  2. Stop at the local grocery store/bakery and pick up some cookies, doughnuts, or treats to share with everyone.
  3. Make sure you have any documentation that you may need from your physicians, etc., organized and readily available. Not having something makes this process so much more difficult.
  4. Catch the bees with honey, not vinegar! If someone rubs you the wrong way during your meeting, stop and take a deep breath. Compose your thoughts and provide a rebuttal that is dripping with sweetness. For example: If you want phyical therapy to help your child through the lunch line, and they say NO…You could say “Well my kid needs help and you’re going to give it to him or else!” OR You could say, “I had hoped that someone would help him through the lunch line, so that the poor janitor was not stuck cleaning up his lunch from the floor every single day.”
  5. Remember: You have the right to refuse services too! If they want to over-service your child, and you know that that will cause issues, you can tell them you don’t think that’s an appropriate action.

School is not ideal in any way…especially not for our kiddos. We just have to employ all the tools we have in our back pockets to make it as tolerable as possible.

Even if that means we have to tame a pit of vipers.

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