If you feel like your child’s needs aren’t being met due to his or her learning differences, it’s often a good idea to think about asking for an IEP. Unfortunately, doing so is almost certainly going to require you to gather information on your own. Even worse, it feels like the schools rarely let you know exactly what you’ll need before the meeting. If you’re looking for information, you’ll want to gather it from the following sources.
Start with the Report Card
Starting with your child’s report card makes a great deal of sense. It’s the easiest way to show the kind of progress that your child is making, even if it does not get into his or her specific problems. Even better are those report cards that have comments from teachers, as they can establish a record of behavioral or learning issues that need to be addressed by the IEP.
Reach out to Teachers
In addition to your child’s report card, you should also get information directly from your child’s teacher. It’s often a good idea to set up individual meetings with teachers or to speak with them at conferences so that you can get more in-depth information going forward. In an ideal situation, all of your child’s teachers will have input on the IEP, but it’s a good idea to speak to them ahead of time just in case.
Go Outside the School
It’s also necessary to get as much information as you can from professionals outside of the school. If your child has a therapist, talk to him or her about the issues that your child is facing. Physical therapists, occupational therapists, and even pediatricians can also provide invaluable information. The school will certainly have their own specialists to speak about your child in the meeting, but make sure that you have information that you’ve gathered from a disinterested source as well.
Learn About Your Child’s Rights
Finally, you’ll want to gather information from legal sources to figure out what rights your child has. Talking to a lawyer with a background in education is a good idea, as he or she can tell you more about topics like finding the least restrictive environment for your child. Remember, an IEP is a legal document, and thus having a bit of extra legal information can only be helpful to your cause.