FCSN // Newsletter // 2017 // August 2017 // Getting Your Transition Age Student Involved in the IEP Process

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Getting Your Transition Age Student Involved in the IEP Process

By Nancy Mader, Director of Transition Projects

It’s that time of year again! School has started, and parents and students are navigating the new year’s challenges. The transition team at The LINK Center would like to remind parents and families of the importance of student involvement in the IEP process, especially for transition age youth (age 14 to 22). In Massachusetts, students aged 14 or older must be invited to attend all IEP meetings where the IEP Team discusses transition planning. Ideally, students will be involved in their IEP development and meetings as early as elementary school. Below we have collected some best practices and advantages to getting your student involved in their IEP.
Prepare students for the IEP meeting by helping them:

  • Read and understand the IEP language
  • Understand progress made on goals
  • Understand why some goals may not have been met
  • Understand their disability and how it will impact their transition to adult life
  • Know their personal strengths and challenges
  • Know their preferences and dislikes
  • Advocate for needed accommodations
  • Voice their vision for life after high school (future goals for employment, education, and independent living)

Students of all abilities can participate in the IEP meeting and some are even able to take a leadership role. Here are some ways a student can take charge:

  • Decide who they would like to invite to the IEP meeting
  • Create the invitation to the IEP
  • Deliver the IEP invitations
  • Prepare food or coffee for the meeting
  • Attend the meeting
  • Keep track of time
  • Take meeting notes
  • Introduce the attendees at the meeting
  • Develop IEP goals and identify needed services
  • Identify their postsecondary goals regarding education, employment, and independent living
  • Advocate for supports and accommodations

Self-determination is an important skill for young adults of all abilities, and full participation in the IEP process can help students feel empowered and independent. Benefits from involvement in the IEP process include:

  • Learning to self-advocate
  • Learning how and when to self-disclose
  • Experiencing empowerment and leadership
  • Ownership of their goals and motivation to achieve them
  • Understanding their rights under IDEA and state education laws
  • Increasing self-awareness of strengths, preferences, interests, and needs

There are many more ways in which a student can participate in an IEP meeting. Considering their strengths and interests and offering choices on how they can participate may increase their motivation to attend and be an active member of the IEP Team. The most important thing is to get them participating and being active in their educational decision-making process in any way possible.