So you’ve gone and done your Special Education Evaluation with your school district and you wait. It may feel like forever, I know but soon you will have your ARD meeting (ARD = Admission, Review, Dismissal) where you’ll review the options for your child within the special education system. After the evaluation, the school district has up to 45 school days to schedule and meet with you.
It can be intimidating to go through this process as a newcomer-trust me I just had mine a couple of weeks ago! But I’ve been blessed to be around folks who’ve sat at each side of the table who gave me tips and made me feel comfortable (well, sort of). So I will share the wisdom that helped me through with you!
Ask for the Evaluation Results before the ARD.
Your evaluation will be sent to the school in which your zoned and will be reviewed by the professionals there who will create the IEP for you. These folks may never set eyes on your child before they enter their classroom, and it’s most likely the evaluators only interacted with your child that one time…remember, you know your child best! Request the evaluation before the ARD (this can be done by making a phone call to the school district’s special education department, or just by asking the specialist at your evaluation. Review the evaluation ahead of time. Mark it up if you see fit! Highlight sections you wanted to discuss at the ARD.
Take someone with you. You are entitled to take another person, whether it’s a paid advocate, speech therapist, occupational therapist, nanny, grandparent, aunt, whomever you feel is best with you to be a participant in the ARD. For example, I took my son’s Speech Therapist. She knew Max’s capabilities, his weaknesses, and his personality. She wouldn’t have come, however had I not asked. Speak up, parents…no need to be shy when it comes to these things!
Remember: YOU ARE IN CHARGE. You are the parent. You know your child better than anyone. The entire process is overwhelming. To the folks across the school office counter or tiny desks, or maybe even a real adult sized conference table, you’re another parent out of the hundreds they see in their career. And though they’re usually nice and considerate and treat each child/case independently, don’t let their experience one-up you. They may be experts in their fields, but you’re an expert in who your kid is, what they’ve experienced up to this point. Ask questions, make sure you understand EVERYTHING. If anything makes you say “huh?” or you don’t quite understand the next steps in the process, ask for them to explain.
Have any tips of your own? Leave it in the comments!