As a former teacher and a parent of a twice-exceptional child with an IEP and an ALP, I have always had to be an advocate for my child. However, over the past 7 months, while my child has been at home in a virtual environment, my support and advocacy have had to look different. Navigating an IEP in a virtual environment has required even more!
As I have been navigating these new waters, I have found a few strategies that help me be a better advocate. Every situation is unique, but as a SpEd parent, here is what I have found to be helpful in advocating for my child.
Know your child’s IEP or ALP
You likely already know your child’s IEP well. Knowing my child’s IEP or ALP helps me prepare before I meet with providers and teachers. I make a list of things that need to stay the same. I also make a list of things that need to be modified given our current situation.
Ask for accommodations that are not in the IEP if they make sense for your current environment
You can ask for what your student needs. These accommodations can be written in later if needed. There is no reason for your student not to have what they need because something is not on paper yet.
Make peace with the fact that not every service can be provided virtually according to the original IEP or ALP
You don’t have to write services into the IEP or ALP that likely cannot be provided. Rather, ask for compensatory services and/or extended school year.
Read and respond to emails with extra grace.
Tone and intent can be hard to come across in emails. As teachers and parents are not able to do quick “check-ins” during this time, email is more widely used. Teachers and parents are both being asked to navigate a fragile time with grace. Giving grace will go far.
Communication smooths many bumps.
Over-communicate anything you are doing at home to support your child. Communicate with providers on a regular basis, especially if you feel like something is not going well. It is more difficult for providers to see what is working and what is not working in a virtual environment, so give them as much information as you can.
You may even want to put a reminder in your calendar to send your child’s teachers and providers a weekly update. Or let them know you’ll be using Possip to provide your routine updates.
And pat yourself on the back! Your child, your child’s teachers and providers, and your community thanks you for all you are doing to make your children successful.
Check out some of our other blogs for how to support your children now. Here is another one: https://possip.com/addressing-childrens-social-emotional-needs-during-school-closures/
Adie Tate is a Possip Team Member, former teacher and Mom to Henry, 11 and Owen, 8.