Advocating for your disabled child will help in their education - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Community Focus

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Advocating for your disabled child will help in their education

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Teresa Welsh

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Posted: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 11:00 am

As your Individualized Education Program (IEP) and 504 plan meeting may be approaching, it is very important that you have a voice in your child's education.

Every parent wants to see their child excel in school, but sometimes it is very hard to get the services you need due to the budget cuts in our school district.

Many children who have been diagnosed with a disability will be allowed to have an IEP or a 504 plan as long as it is affecting their learning in school.

This is a journey you will be taking with your child until they graduate from high school or college. IEP and 504 plans are not always about academics such as reading, writing, math and science, but non academic issues such as hygiene, behavior, sensory and social skills.

In order to advocate for your child in an IEP or 504 plan, a parent should know their rights and special education laws. You are a part of the IEP team and you have the right to see the IEP before the meeting.

If you do not get the IEP before the meeting, you have the right to be there for attendance only and can set up another meeting in a few week to review the IEP before signing it.

The school district wants to set your child up for success and that's their goal: to help your child get an adequate education.

It may not be a Cadillac education, but at least a Ford or Toyota.

Preparation for the IEP meeting is essential by having a blueprint of the concerns you have for your child. Be respectful and a team player when going to these meetings.

You can have a special education advocate review your IEP with you and they will make some suggestions to helping your child with accommodations, strategies, and other services.

Also, they will teach you the language to use when you're in the IEP meeting.

You can request to have a complete evaluation done by writing a letter to the school requesting to having your child evaluated. The school district has 30 days to respond.

No one knows your child better than you, so explain in detail what concerns you have with your child.

• Teresa Welsh is a behavior coach with her own company, Kids Reaching New Heights. Reach her at (602) 531-0230 or

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