Preparing for the Future: Exceptional Advice on the Final IEP Meeting
Updated: May 26
By Meshell Baylor, MHS
Every exit is an entry to somewhere else. - Tom Stoppard
The time has come for the very last Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting. As you sit across the table from your grown child, it's hard not to reflect upon your first IEP meeting and all the life choices you had to make for your child over the years. As you gaze at this IEP or 504 Plan, you travel back through time, remembering when you were a new parent, meeting with professionals who assessed and made recommendations for your child. All while trying to keep it together on the inside.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), parents play a vast fundamental role in the intervention and welfare of a special need child with a physical or developmental disability. It is during that first initial assessment and IEP that the parent and team, which consists of the special education teacher, principal, language and speech pathologist, and various entities, assist you in mapping out a plan with a shared goal: to help your child succeed and live a healthy life.
Whether the plan is to help the child into an able day program, trade, or college, the IEP is a document that details your child/young adult's levels of performance, strengths, needs, areas of concern, and goals. This document highlights the objectives you and your child's team made to track levels of performance in reading and mathematics,
In the last IEP, if your child is 18 years old, it will be determined that your child has to make final corrections to their plan. The parent can attend this last meeting as a support; however, if the child is 18, it will be their final say and signature in their educational plan. If a parent has limited or full conservatorship, they can advocate and intervene in the IEP.
Conservatorship is a legal agreement that the court/judge has mandated or appointed a person to act or make decisions for the persons who need help. The person the judge appoints is called the Conservator. The person who receives the support is the Conservatee.
Conservatorship only is determined if there is a need if the child/adult needs guidance and assistance.
The Conservator will reside over the following:
Residence or specific dwelling
Access the Conservatee's confidential records and papers.
Consent or withhold consent to the Conservatee to marry
Exercise the Conservatee's right to enter into a contract
Give or withhold medical consent on behalf of the Conservatee
Exercise or limit the Conservatee's right to control social and sexual contacts and relationships
Make decisions about the Conservatee's education
All of these components are important, but for a parent, education is one of the many aspects that you want to help your exceptional child continue to navigate. It's vital to determine what kind of future your child would like to pursue, such as vocational training, trade school, or college. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) from the 2015-2016 school year, 19% of undergraduate and 12% of graduate students reported having a disability.
If you are a parent who cares about ending this last high school IEP on a positive note to ensure that life after high school transfers over to a new journey into a program, trade school, or college, here are some tips in the last IEP to add that will help.
If your child is pursuing a trade or college make sure that all provisions are added to the IEP, such as
Assistive technology for in-class learning, such as a recorder
Testing accommodations - time to take the test, exams in a quiet environment
Accessible materials formatted large print materials, books, tapes, cd's
Adding these things to the final IEP will help your exceptional child/adult prepare for college or trade school. The goal is to help your child exceed all expectations that life has to offer. When we as parents advocate for our children's education, we change the narratives of CAN'TS into CANS.
Bold: Bold.org is a site for students to apply for exclusive scholarships, fellowships, and grants, in minutes.
National College Resources Foundation: www.collegeexpo.org is a 501c3 nonprofit educational enhancement organization geared toward helping students with access to college through educational resources, scholarships, and assistance.
Department Of Rehabilitation (DOR): www.dor.ca.gov, The California Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) is an employment and independent living resource for people with disabilities.
Upward Bound: www.upwardbound.org is a college preparation program that helps high school students prepare for college.
Meshell Baylor, MHS, is a mother of four children—two of whom are on the autism spectrum. She serves her community as a social worker and advocate within the Los Angeles area. She has a bachelor's degree in human services from Springfield College and a Master of Science in Human and Social Services. Meshell continues to volunteer and give within her local area while serving the special needs community. Meshell’s third son, Christopher, who is diagnosed as high functioning, recently graduated from high school, and is headed to Cal State Dominguez College. Meshell adds, “I am the very proud parent of child with autism headed off to college. This experience has truly been a wonderful journey, and like many parents, we all want them to have an exceptional, wonderful life.”