So, when our son was entering 3rd grade, my husband and I were scheduled for our first IEP meeting at Whispering Pines Elementary School. I had no idea what that meant or what we were going to be in for. A friend of mine offered to join us as our “advocate” and I accepted since she clearly seemed to know way more than me about what I could and should be asking for from the school to help our son. Well, I was glad that she came because I was overwhelmed at all of the people who were there and it was a contentious meeting. We probably got more than we would have if we were there by ourselves but we definitely did NOT get all that we should have for our son.
Years went by and, because I thought that I had a good rapport with my son’s school administrators, I didn’t ask anyone to join me at the bi-annual IEP meetings.
BIG, BIG, BIG, BIG MISTAKE!!!!
This year, we did it right. We hired Mindy Kline from Educate for Success to be our Advocate and we hired Carly Hockenberry, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) from My Favorite Therapists. They work together, with us and with school, to achieve the most success for our son!
In 2 weeks, we are getting more accomplished than we did in 2 years! Knowledge and persistence pays off.
- My son’s IEP is no longer vague and general.
- My son’s IEP has clear, specific goals to be obtained that are consistent with what we are working on at home and in therapy.
- My son’s IEP should and will be read, understood and implemented by all of his teachers.
- My son’s time at school will be more productive.
- The school is working together with our advocate,
- BCBA, and our family to ensure that the IEP is followed.
- The school is being held accountable for providing and documenting services in accordance with the IEP.
- The school is responsible for so much more than we ever knew.
Going to an IEP meeting without an advocate is like going to court without a lawyer! It just is not the same. We love our children and we know what we want for them and what they need. But, the professionals are the ones who know what our children deserve and how to get it. If you ask me, having an advocate is definitely worth it.