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How to Prepare for Your First IEP Meeting

How to Prepare for Your First IEP Meeting


If your child has autism, Down syndrome or another disability, he may be eligible for special education services. The school system is tough to navigate without some preparation. That’s why getting ready for your first IEP (Individualized Educational Program) meeting is an important step in managing your child’s education.

Once you know that your child with special needs is eligible for special education services, the next step is to learn your child’s rights. Each state has a set of rights that should be provided to you at the beginning of every annual review meeting. These rights set instructions for your child’s school and teacher and lets that you know about everything your child is entitled to along with your responsibilities for your child. If you do not have a copy of your rights, contact your child’s school, or check your state’s department of education website.

You also must know the services that are provided through your child’s school district. Knowing this information ahead of time will help you feel more comfortable talking with the IEP team. It is recommended that you additionally research your child’s specific school and meet your child’s teacher before the initial meeting. It is important to have a good relationship with your child’s teacher and it will help you feel more confident if you have established this relationship beforehand.

Going into the first IEP meeting can still be stressful. How do you remember everything you want to say? Make sure you’re prepared and remember to bring everything you need to bring.

Use this checklist to get organized for your next IEP meeting:

• A folder with all your documentation
• A notepad and pen to take notes
• An advocate who can support you
• A smartphone recording app if you’ll be recording the meeting
• A list of questions you want to address
• Notes about approaches that do or don’t work at home
• Any private evaluations you want to share
• Evaluation reports from your child’s most recent school
• Parent-school communication log detailing phone calls, meetings or emails to or from school
• A letter of your concerns to attach to the IEP that lists your child’s strengths and challenges

Being prepared for your first IEP meeting can make it easier. It can also help to bring your own team of advisors to a meeting.

If you feel overwhelmed and you need help, please contact us.

American Advocacy Group is on the front lines every day, making positive change happen for people diagnosed with autism, Down syndrome and a range of diagnoses across the continuum. As a leading advocate for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, and the premier provider of the support and services people want and need, we understand the system and know how to take action in regard to your best interests.


Dial (877) 762-0702 or email us at [email protected].

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