it's done. it went amazing!! i'm home wanting to scream to other parents how important it is to do your research, know your stuff, be organized and be prepared!! advocate, advocate, advocate!! it definitely paid off today.
last night, i was pretty spun up and decided to waste the night away watching mindless TV instead of spinning my wheels any further doing individualized education program (IEP) prep. so i woke up at 5:30 AM, which gave me about two hours to continue my research and preparation (although i already have two large binders and three ziploc bags of supporting documents and laws gathered over the 11 years of previous IEP prep).
some key tips -- it was HUGE to have the IEP draft in advance. i was able to read and understand the IEP and then write my notes and thoughts directly onto the draft. this was especially important because i wasn't that familiar with the florida IEP outline.
i've been trying to add a communication | socialization goal for kiele for a long time now and so this time, i researched and wrote a goal and objectives that i could present to the team. i also had rehearsed how i was going to introduce the need. while there was some resistance and other suggestions by a couple members of the team at first, i just kept sharing that i wasn't comfortable with this or that...and finally they agreed to make a separate goal.
kiele is going into high school next year and it made no sense to me that a high school representative would not be present at the IEP meeting. i shared with the case manager that if she could not find a rep that could attend and speak on behalf of the school, we would have to reschedule the meeting for another day. i'm SO GRATEFUL that i did that because i met the most amazing person, who gets it and was instrumental in today's IEP success!! and i now have an awesome contact at the high school (exactly what i needed), who also gave me a number of other important contact names and email addresses.
when your child is old enough, let her attend the IEP meetings. kiele discussed problems and issues she had throughout the year, which resulted in three additional items being added to the IEP. it also alerted the high school rep (and myself) to things she should pay special attention to next year.
i hope this information will help someone out there. parents who have been there and done that have so much to offer and share with others. you are NOT alone!! one day, i hope to share on a greater level (national conference) but for now, my blog will have to do. if you know of anyone that might benefit from my IEP thoughts, please forward this to them.
as always, feel free to post questions in the comment section and i'll be happy to answer.
or maybe this because i'm so giddy with relief, i almost feel like i could go outside and do a cartwheel right now.