Dr. Akweta Hickman is the executive director of special education at DeSoto Independent School District.
Being a parent of a student eligible for special education services requires parents to have a great understanding of the special education process. The unfamiliarity and novelty can cause extreme emotional turmoil for families. However, challenges are made to be conquered. Preparing for Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD) meetings beforehand will help you manage the stress of navigating the special education journey.
Before the meeting:
Take steps to gain control.
Ask for the data supporting the school’s recommendations and bring your data to be considered by the ARD committee members. This will give you some control of the meeting by requiring that all decisions made are data-driven.
Give yourself time to process your emotions.
Request a full explanation of your child’s disability and its characteristics. By doing so, you will have had time to emotionally process this information and will be less likely to make an emotional decision.
Don’t be a stranger.
Being a part of the school’s community will make you feel more at ease with the individuals serving on your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) committee. As a result, when an ARD meeting is held you will not feel like a stranger, but an active participant in your child’s education.
Remember, no one is perfect!
This article was originally published in May 2018.
Illustration by Mary Dunn