Future Reflections         Fall 2008

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IEP Comebacks That Work

Editor’s Note: Are there certain phrases that you hear over and over again at an IEP meeting, but no matter how well prepared you are, these phrases always seem to blindside you? When you go into your next meeting, be prepared with a few polite, but firm, comebacks for stock phrases that usually leave you speechless or spinning your wheels as you try desperately to think of a way to get the focus of the meeting back onto the needs of your child. These “comebacks” were contributed to us from a New Jersey parent who found them in a newsletter from Helping Hand, a statewide parent advocacy network. In a few places we have added, in brackets, examples especially appropriate to parents of blind children.  Here are the tips:

Statement: We don’t do that.

Comeback: I realize that none of your current students are receiving a program like this one, but since IDEA requires an appropriate education which meets each child’s needs, there are no encompassing absolutes. If the IEP team agrees that this service is appropriate and meets a need, then it can be done.

Statement: This is the only program we offer.

Comeback: I realize that this is the program that other students are currently receiving, but since it is not appropriate for this child and does not meet his need we need to discuss other options. Individualized Education Plans are just that--individual--and perhaps if a new program is started, you will find that it will also meet the needs of others.

Statement: We don’t have the funds.

Comeback: Gee, I thought that discussing funding during an IEP was illegal. Let me just get that on tape.

Statement: You have to find a summer school.

Comeback: Let’s discuss my child’s eligibility for extended year services in order not to regress over the break.

Statement: One half-hour per week occupational therapy [orientation and mobility, Braille, etc.] is all students get.

Comeback: I realize that most students do not require the extensive occupational therapy [orientation and mobility, Braille, etc.] that my child does, however I hardly find that offering him the same amount of therapy [special instruction] that the other children need is individualizing his education plan, or it is certainly not appropriate for him. Let’s discuss HIS needs.

Statement: You have to find a social skills group.

Comeback: Since my child has an identified need in social skills, and it has an impact on his education. I ask that the [school district, the Local Education Agency or LEA] meet this need by providing social skills training.

Statement: We don’t need to write that down.

Comeback: I will note it right here in my parent’s notes. One moment while I get your comment on tape, too.
I.E.P. [When writing the IEP, these stock phrases are sure to show up.]

Statement: …where/when appropriate…

Comeback: Let’s modify that to make it more concrete.

Statement: …in a timely fashion…

Comeback: Let’s qualify that to give us a deadline. What would you consider a timely fashion?

Statement: He lacks motivation.

Comeback: Let’s make up a plan to motivate him, write a goal, get a behaviorist to work with the teacher to help find his motivation, and support her efforts.

Statement: We do that naturally.

Comeback: Great! So then let’s just add it to the notes in case of future staff changes.

Statement: If we do it for one, we have to do it for all.

Comeback: The beauty of an IEP is that it is an individualized plan, and only what a child needs is required. I would like the name of the person [who can authorize this service] and the date on which I will hear a reply from that person written into the IEP notes.

Statement: There’s not enough time to discuss this issue; moving on…

Comeback: Well then, let’s schedule a meeting to finish it up when you can take time to address all of the issues at hand. Here is when I am available…

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