As a Military wife, practicing Education Advocate, and special needs mom, I have experience with transitioning my child’s IEP to new schools, a new staff, and with new goals. I have moved all over since my son Jayden was born, due to my husband’s service in the U.S. Navy. We even moved to Florida to then move back to California, due to the lack of available resources or benefits for children with special needs.
With these moves, I’ve learned what strategies can help bring everyone involved with your child’s IEP together.
Here are my top 5 tips to make the transition of moving with a child with additional needs as smooth as possible.
1. Let your IEP team know about the move sooner than later.
A lot of people believe they should wait to inform the IEP team of possible moves. I have learned that informing them and holding an IEP right before you leave has many benefits.
The team is a lot more accommodating and willing to dig deep and write in all the child’s needs when they are not going to be the district responsible for the IEP any longer.
Is it right? Nope, but it is the truth of the matter.
2. Contact the new school district as soon as you have your new address.
This allows them to review your child’s current IEP. It also gives the district plenty of time to ensure they get all accommodations, supplemental supports, and related services ready for your child’s arrival.
I afford the school district as much of a heads-up as I can so they understand our situation and are prepared to accommodate every need when we arrive.
3. Request tours of all placement options when you arrive.
Correct placement is vital to a successful transition. The school will probably already have a placement option in mind, and it could be exactly what your child needs, but seeing all placements is important because you know your child the best.
I tell every parent I work with you are the expert on your child and are an equal member of the team with equal decision-making power.
Although it may not seem that way, it is. I want to encourage every parent to own their seat whenever you come to an IEP table.
4. Let the front-loading begin.
I have learned a lot through my many moves. But, one vital thing I have learned was that front-loading everyone from your child to your new IEP team is beneficial.
When we move, I request a few opportunities for my son to see his new classroom and meet the staff. The more time my son has to become familiar with his new classroom and the staff he will be working with, the easier the transition will be for everyone.
It also gives his team time to observe him before he enters the classroom on the first day. These “previews” can be so helpful for everyone.
I have seen great differences in the start of school when front-loading is implemented well.
5. Prepare for an IEP meeting in 30 days.
You will have a meeting in about 30 days after your child has started at their new school. This is when you’ll discuss the current IEP and how it is working in the new placement and if anything needs to be changed.
Every district is different so I would take that into account. However, I would also be prepared to have data from home and/or outside providers in case their vision does not match yours.
Also, a strong parent input statement is very important in this meeting. This will ensure everyone is on the same page moving forward and the IEP team knows what expectations you have.
During the first 30 days, I recommend you be very observant. If you have any concerns, the 30-day IEP review is a great place to get them on record for the team to address. It allows for any necessary changes to be made without calling an additional meeting.
Moving with a special needs child is no easy feat. I hope these tips help to make one important aspect of the moving process less daunting.
*This post was originally published on Beyond Autism: Jayden and Jaxon’s Journey and is shared here with permission.