I know I used to see the calendar flip into April and although I love spring, I would start to think about the work that was soon to be required of me for the IEP process for my daughter, Elizabeth.

For those who don’t know, my daughter Elizabeth has special needs. Specifically she has Global Dyspraxia and Sensory Processing Disorder or SPD. Her disorders affect all parts of her life and day. Her disorders are ones that affects all parts of her life but in such intricate and specific ways.

This is why it was so important to make sure her IEP reflected her needs and abilities the best way it could. So that everyone could understand her and how she works. Because once they understood, they could work with her well and succeed!

So back to the work that I talked about prior.

1. It would all start with contacting the school and asking for a copy of the new IEP as soon as possible. So that I could review it myself. And do a side-by-side comparison of the current IEP and the new one to see how the goals changed or stayed the same and to see how I might want to change the narrative part of the IEP.

This narrative is so important because it tell whomever is reading it just who and what your child is. It is the introduction of your child to the reader. So it needs to be accurate and reflect the current information about your child

2. It is so important to bring in your team. Any and all people who are working with your child. Be them therapists or nt

3.And I make copies of the IEP for them all.

4. And I give everyone a copy. To read. To add to.To write their thoughts on

5. Then I ask for them back and go to work color coding their thoughts to use when I meet with the school as we make goals

This is how I began my IEP work but it didn’t stop with the color coding. I took these color coded pages and spent time talking with one of our beloved therapists who has been with Elizabeth in life since the age of 2.5 years old. She knows her so well and because of this, she was the one who I sat down with and goal by goal, page by page we would go through the new IEP and get it to be all that we wanted it to be for Elizabeth.

Then of course comes the meeting and well, that is a whole other blog. (insert smile face here)

But I think one of the things that I learned was to see the IEP as the tool that it is. But it has to be the right tool for your child. It reminds of what my dad said all the time to me when I would use a shoe as a hammer because I just didn’t want to go all the way to the garage to get a hammer.

Right tool for the right job

So the IEP has to be the right tool.

And it takes work. But it is so worth it to be as prepared as you can for the meeting and that starts with having the time and plan for how to make the IEP the best it can be for your child.

Trust me, I wasn’t born knowing this, I learned it the hard way so I want to share what I learned and what worked for us to help someone who might see the calendar flipping and know that the IEP time is nearing.

I hope this helps someone.

I wish everyone a peaceful week.

Michele Gianetti author of Elizabeth Believes in Herself