Did you have any IDEA that your child is entitled to a FAPE in the LRE? Do you know what I just said?
It is critical that you go into your IEP meeting fully prepared to advocate for your child. One of the most important tools in your arsenal is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA. This act consists of two primary components, (1) the child receives a Free and Appropriate Eduation or FAPE in the (2) Least Restrictive Environment or LRE.
What a wonderfully clearcut law! That should make the IEP process super easy for everyone, right?
Nope. Many of our parents struggle with obtaining necessary services and appropriate education for their children with autism. Sadly, some school districts fall terribly short with regard to educating our children. It seems there is room for interpretation with IDEA and I'd encourage you all to get VERY familiar with the laws, your local resources and your child's individual needs before your meeting.
One of my favorite resources for legal issues and information pertaining to IEPs is WrightsLaw.com. It is a searchable site, so you can look up specific issues that may be of interest to you.
Here is a link to an article I wrote last year for Crystal Coast Parent Magazine: "IEP Survival Guide". This is especially helpful if you are new to the IEP process but seasoned parents may find a few useful tidbits in there as well.
IEP meetings can be very stressful for some parents. For me, the best antidote for stress is humor. Here is a link to a post I did a while ago titled, "POP Syndrome". If you're having a rough time with school authorities, you'll want to read it.
Feel free to share your IEP success (or disaster) stories. We can all learn from each other's experiences. Good luck!