My youngest daughter, who has Down syndrome, has just started her Senior year in high school. With her final year in high school, it has me thinking about her first days in school. My wife and I have now had many years of practice attending IEPs (Individualized Education Programs). It can be a daunting task whether it’s your first or fifteenth time attending one for your child. So along with my knowledge, I found understood.org, which can help you navigate these meetings.

One thing that’s important to note is “IEPs are part of public education…private schools don’t offer IEPs.” However, if your child attends a private school, there may be something similar you can look into. IEPs can get stressful and emotional, you’re discussing your child’s goals and reviewing their progress, so tensions can rise. It’s okay to bring someone with you to support you during this process. Sometimes having someone there helps defuse the elevated emotions. Much like any other document, if you don’t agree with what the draft says, you don’t have to sign it. Don’t feel pressured. Ask to take it home to look at it, being at home and in a more relaxed environment might help you be able to review it more thoroughly.

Lastly, ask for help if you need it. We like to think that we can handle things on our own. But the great thing about the community of parents with children who have disabilities, is that we are all willing to help another parent out when things get difficult. We know what it’s like to not know what questions to ask or even how or when to ask them. So, don’t be afraid to reach out.
 
Gerald Nebeker, Ph.D. Orange Socks President 

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