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Tips for IEP Teams – transcript

[On the screen]

Tips for IEP Teams, Part 2

In this part, Anne and Rita talk about setting goals, how an Individual Education Plan should look, and what parents and whānaucan do to support ongoing planning. 

Anne Wilkinson – Parent to Parent CEO and Support Parent, Mum to Michelle:
We had an experience where someone kept saying that she would never learn that. I guess I found that a bit of a challenge, so we just taught her that, and then we went back the next time and showed that person that they were totally wrong.

But that can be hard, and that’s the sad thing about diagnosis I guess, that often there are a whole lot of assumptions that come with that. The good thing about education normally is that it isn’t so much about diagnosis, it’s about how can we tap into this child’s potential and get them where they want to be. But sometimes we do get caught up with the diagnosis and the labels and some of those assumptions, and not really have the expectations we should have, which are really around them having a good life.

That’s one of the things I think that’s really important about IEPs, is that the strategies of where it needs to be is very clear.

There becomes an issue of, if the teacher’s sick and there’s a reliever in, and the reliever won’t necessarily know how to do it. And so for the kids to learn, and we’re all teaching, we’re all trying to do it the same way, they need to do it the same way as well. Otherwise, we can think, “Oh no, that was a silly goal, it didn’t work”, but everyone was doing it differently.

Rita Harris, Support Parent, Mum to Kasey:
It’s really important that those small details were captured and that everyone understood about them because it could be so easy to get it wrong.

And for everyone to have that understanding of why those things were important, I think. But also having the input from say the speech language therapist about why it was important to start at a certain place before getting to this place. And understanding what that was about.

So each person, including myself, could understand why you can’t just get here – you need to start here and move towards it.

I think I would talk to my support person if I knew beforehand about it, and talk about why it is that it’s not a priority for me, so we’re really clear before we go in to be able to express what we feel.

But I guess it’s just having the confidence to do that, and I think that's the worry, that not all parents can do that or feel that they are able to, especially if it was a large group of professionals sitting there.

I think that's where the team comes in.

It depends on where the group’s at, and if you’re still forming a group, and you’re not really that close trusting team.

It can be really hard to say, “Well, that’s not so important to us. This is really much more important and I’d rather we focused on this for now.”

And I think too, as parents we need to think about what’s important from the school’s perspective, as well as from the other members of the team’s perspective because really they’re there for our child, too.

But if we can have those trusting relationships and just discuss it all.

There will be times when it’s not necessary, but what is necessary is that there is still a team around that kid and that people are putting stuff in place – there is some planning happening.

And I think most importantly that the family are very much involved in all of that. And I think that if the school are thinking “We don’t need the whole formal process of an IEP”, and for families that can be a little bit intimidating too, and they might like a wee rest from it. I think there needs to be that commitment from both sides to make sure that everyone’s still communicating and talking.

And it is because there’s a reason why we’re not needing to meet quite so often, but we are actually working on this, and working on something else, and we are communicating how we’re going.

And that they have an avenue so that if something comes up that they feel is really important, that they know who to go to first. Or having that relationship with the teacher that they can just go at any time and say, “Look, I know you’ve said we’re not having an IEP for a while, but I really feel this is important, what can I do?”

It’s really important that parents know what their child is achieving. And if they’re feeling that they’re not, then then need to go and talk to the teacher first about “This is what is not happening”, or “This is what is happening and it’s probably not what we want”.

So, then I think it’s about looking at what’s the best way forward. And it might be to have an IEP, or it might be to do something else, to have some other sort of plan. But families will know that.

And so the other thing, too, that is important is that those relationships are good, and the families have the confidence to actually go to the school and do that and raise it with them.

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